LADSON, SC (WCSC) - Some of us go to the Coastal Carolina Fair for the rides, but others make the drive for the food.
Elephant ears, gyros, turkey legs, giant donuts and just about anything fried are included per usual on the menu at the fair, which runs through Nov. 6.
For the more daring — scorpion pizza, macaroni and cheese with gator meat, shark kabobs and pig butt on a stick are also options.
Chairman of outside concessions Ernest Beck says attendees have about 100 different food vendors to choose from at the Exchange Park fairgrounds.
All vendors are carefully selected. Organizers get a large stack of applications every year, but few are accepted in addition to the stands that have been there for years.
Members of the concessions committee visit fairs across the country to see which food stands get people excited, and recruit the vendors for the Coastal Carolina Fair.
Beck says cleanliness and food quality are deciding factors in whether a vendor can set up shop at the fair. Organizers also look at references and how professional the workers are.
Many of the vendors take pride in making made-to-order foods. The pork loin sandwich at Chuckie's Famous Pork Tenderloin and mozzarella fingers — pieces of Wisconsin cheese dipped, battered and fried at Hot Wisconsin Cheese — are made from only fresh ingredients. Never frozen, food stand managers said.
Together, the vendors bring millions in revenue.
The food stands can make between $10,000 and $50,000 during the fair, and a portion of the revenue is donated to local charities every year, Beck says.
Attendees love trying the novelty food items, but Beck and outside concessions assistants Ralph Mellard and Laurence Moser said not every gimmick has been successful among Lowcountry residents.
Pumpkin waffles did very well up north, they said, but not so much on the South Carolina coast.
Local establishments Jack's Cosmic Dogs, Sticky Fingers are Ye Old Fashioned will also be dishing food out at the fair this year.