Fair offers healthful food choices

Two booths offer options beyond the traditional fried food

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian health reporter



Clark County Fair food vendors are offering healthier options this year. Will you try them?

  • No way. It’s the fair. Bring on the onion rings and elephant ears. 30%
  • Maybe, if they look tasty. 29%
  • Absolutely. I’m always looking for healthier foods. 25%
  • They aren’t taking away the Dairy Women milkshakes, are they? 17%

84 total votes.

If you go

What: Clark County Fair.

Today’s hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Carnival opens at noon.

Where: 17402 N.E. Delfel Road, Ridgefield.

Admission: Adults, $10; seniors 62 and older, $8; kids 7-12, $7; kids 6 and younger, free; current and past military and one guest, $7 each with military ID; parking, $6; C-Tran shuttle, $2 per person round trip from area park-and-ride lots; children 6 and younger ride free. $1 discount on admission with a bus fare stub. Unlimited rides today, $25.

Highlights: Demolition derby, 2 and 6:30 p.m., 99.5 “The Wolf” Grandstands. Jest in Time Circus, noon, 2:30 and 4 p.m.

Pets: Not permitted, except for personal service animals or those on exhibition or in competition.

Information:Clark County Fair or 360-397-6180. Download The Columbian’s mobile app for the Clark County Fair.

The Clark County Fair isn't all corn dogs and curly fries this year. One food vendor specializing in salads and wraps has made sure of that.

While other fair booths continue to serve deep-fried meat on a stick, greasy finger foods or sugar-coated treats, the Food 4 You and Fresh 4 You booths have taken a different approach.

Greg and Traci Taylor's booths feature leafy greens, local veggies and lean protein such as chicken and hummus. They also offer gluten-free options, and their sweet treats feature berries, cream and Nutella, a sweet, hazelnut-based spread.

"We've had a great response," Greg Taylor said, "an overwhelming response for people wanting healthy options."

The Taylors debuted the Food 4 You booth in the fair's main midway in 2011. When a spot in the food court opened up this year, they were chosen to open the Fresh 4 You booth there. Now, more than halfway through the 10-day fair, Taylor

said the booths are doing great and on track to meet sales goals.

While some other vendors are also now offering some healthier options — adding chicken, salads and fresh fruit to the menu — the Taylors' booths are the only two at the fairgrounds specializing in fresh Northwest products, said Matt Ferris, marketing manager for the fair.

"Obviously, some people are catching on that not everyone wants to have just (traditional, greasy) fair food," Ferris said.

Among that group is Vancouver resident Jill Sughrue, who will spend three days working at the fair. If not for the Food 4 You booth, Sughrue said she wouldn't eat at the fair.

"When I found out they had a healthy booth, I was like, 'Yay! I can eat something,' because I don't eat the other stuff," Sughrue said.

Seventeen-year-old Aeryelle Erdman of Longview said she prefers healthful food and would've skipped lunch if not for the booth's Mediterranean salad wrap.

"It's good for (the business) if people are choosing to get healthier," Erdman said. "But some people come to the fair for the greasy food."

Fried food has a novelty about it, Taylor said, but for the people who work at the fair or have dietary restrictions, having an alternative is important.

"There are people who have legitimate health issues and legitimate diet restrictions, so let's try to meet that crowd," Taylor said.

Debbi Spence of Ridgefield is among the group with special dietary needs. She's had gastric bypass surgery and must be careful about what she eats.

"We need more healthy foods," Spence said.

"Everything here, you can't come (to the fair and eat) if you have a special diet," she added about traditional fair food before the Taylors' booths arrived.

Spence said she'd like to see other booths offer more healthful foods, such as salads, fresh fruit and crisp vegetables. Fair-goers such as Sughrue, a self-proclaimed "health nut," echoed the sentiment.

"I think we need to show people you can have good, healthy food, and that corn dogs and French fries aren't what it's all about," she said. "We need to promote healthy food."

Marissa Harshman: 360-735-4546; http://twitter.com/col_health; http://facebook.com/reporterharshman; marissa.harshman@columbian.com.