October 25, 2021

With many fairs canceled, the food comes to Cortlandville

Colin Spencer/staff reporter

Randy Cox, left, hands a blooming onion to Orilee Ireland-Delfs and her mother, Jane Ireland, both of Homer, Saturday during the drive-through fair food event at the Cortland County Fairgrounds in Cortlandville.

Corn dogs, fried dough and blooming onions all are marks of classic fair foods.

While fairs may have been canceled across the state this summer due to the coronavirus pandemic, including the Cortland County Junior Fair, people came Saturday to the Cortland County Fairgrounds in Cortlandville to get their share of fair food.

The event marked the second day of a three-day set up at the grounds, said Martha Bush, the president of the Cortland County Junior Fair board.

“We haven’t had any negative feedback so far,” she said. “I hope it continues throughout today and tomorrow.”

Attendees were handed menus from the different vendors and then could drive up in their cars to their station of choice, she said. Runners between stations also came to people’s cars directly to get orders ready.

The first day of the event — Friday saw 185 cars come through in just four hours, Bush said.

She hoped for the same kind of volume across eight hours Saturday.

“With the weather, though, we don’t know,” she said, cautioning about Saturday’s potential afternoon and evening rain.

The event was put on to help support the Junior Fair that had to be canceled this year because of COVID-19. Around the beginning of August, Bush got the idea to hold the event after seeing a similar event in Afton.

She talked with other board members and they agreed to put on the event and got vendors from Gillette Shows, a Massachusetts-based carnival rides and food vending company, to come and sell food.

“We thought ‘why not?’” she said. “It’s not going to be too hard and it’s money we really need” to support the Cortland County Junior Fair.

Colin Spencer/staff reporter

Cherrie Houck, left, and Harmony Thibodeau make lemonade Saturday at the drive-through fair food event.

Larry Banks of Cortland was the first in line Saturday. He went straight to the last vendor to order a foot-long hot dog with bacon, french fries and a soda.

“It’s a good idea,” he said. “I’m glad they’re doing it.”

Banks said he was sad to see the regular fair canceled but thought Saturday’s event was a good way to get people out during the pandemic.

Others came to satisfy a summer craving.

“I just really wanted some fair food,” said Nina Oliver of Cortland. She was upset, like Banks, that this year’s fair was canceled as she comes each year with her family.

“But it’s cool they’re trying to do something here,” she said.

She was undecided though on what to get as she was surprised to see Mexican and Mediterranean food offered.

Bush said that having to cancel this year’s Junior Fair was hard on the kids who participate in it as they work all year for it. But she hopes to have it back and running next year.

“I hope that people figure out we have a fairground and that next July they come back,” she said.