Fair eats a big hit

By Loretto J. Hulse, Tri-City HeraldAugust 21, 2013 

Anyone who believes a visit to the fair isn't complete without funnel cakes and elephant ears, don't worry. Several booths are frying them up at the Benton Franklin Fair in Kennewick, which runs through Saturday.

There's plenty of places to find burgers, corn dogs and cotton candy, too.

And if -- like Steve Martinez of Kennewick -- your day isn't complete without a pound and a half turkey leg to gnaw on, head for Piggly's in the main food court. It'll set you back $11.

Many fair foods have their origins in a deep fryer -- one vendor fries everything from Oreos to ice cream to butter.

But several vendors offer tasty fare that isn't fried. One of those is John Probasco of Pasco, owner of Mr. Pro's Philly Cheesesteak.

He has been grilling his sandwiches -- thin-sliced beef, onions and peppers -- at the fair for eight years and has quite a following, judging from the line at his booth.

Linda Parks of West Richland said his booth is her first stop at the fair.

"I come just for these. They're the best," she said, handing over $8.

Mornings, Probasco features breakfast burritos and biscuits and gravy for $5 each. New this year are softball-size cream puffs filled with strawberry, or Bavarian cream pie filling, generously topped with whipped cream for $5.

"I wanted to diversify my menu and did some research on the internet and found cream puffs were the top sellers at fairs in Illinois and Wisconsin. I thought, 'Why not try them here?' " he said.

As his wife Mary handed the treats to two children, the looks on their faces said it all -- the Probascos have a hit. One that will likely give vendors selling ice cream cones, deep fried brownies and even frozen cheesecake on a stick a run for their money.

Another vendor kept busy Wednesday afternoon is new to the fair, Jerky Hut, out of Hubbard, Ore. The company offers 16 flavors of jerky and beef sticks, all vacuum packed to keep them moist and fresh. The meats range from grass-fed beef, to alligator, turkey, elk and venison. Cost ranges from $8 for a 4-ounce package to $20 for a one-pound package.

"The alligator has already sold out and another of my bestsellers, Chernobyl beef jerky, is going fast," said salesman Russ Thompson.

Eric Slater of Richland sampled the Chernobyl, declaring it "awesome. Spicy but not too hot."

Fairgoers also will find some of their favorite vendors from past years, including Woody's World Famous Hand Dipt Corn Dawgs for $6; Beaver State Burritos, $8; Yakisoba Noodles with noodles and chicken teriyaki, $8; and Sahara pizza by the slice, $3.

-- Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; lhulse@tricityherald.com

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