The strong aroma of smoked meat and barbecue wafted out of the colorful Piggly's concession stand Wednesday afternoon and through the Benton Franklin Fair & Rodeo.
Customers lined up to get a taste of the Sawyers' family recipes, which were crafted in Pasco 50 years ago and have been perfected through four generations.
A red and yellow plaid billboard with giant pictures of everything from a turkey leg to fried zucchini loomed over them.
At a nearby table, covered by a rare spot of shade, Craig Sawyers reminisced about how his family's company has grown in the half-century since his grandpa first started serving hamburgers and hot dogs around the Tri-Cities.
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"It's been nothing but family recipes and secrets through the years," he said, dressed in a Piggly's apron. "We don't stray too far off from those recipes."
Piggly's was first started in Franklin County in 1964 and has developed into a fixture at fairs and events on the West Coast. They are celebrating their 50th year at the Benton Franklin Fair with oyster cookouts and giveaways.
The barbecue joint is a mobile concession stand that offers a wide variety of foods, including burgers, jumbo onion rings and polish dogs. One of their most popular items is a two-pound turkey leg.
The company's website says it is one of the largest award-winning concession companies on the West Coast.
The business has been so successful that the Sawyers family even opened a restaurant in Mesa, Ariz., that serves carnival-style cuisine.
Craig Sawyers, 55, took over the company from his grandpa and dad in the early 1990s when they retired, he said.
His family apparently had one of the first food trucks to roam the Tri-Cities.
Sawyer went to Pasco High School and Columbia Basin College, he said. He worked as a welder locally before taking over Piggly's.
Now, Sawyers and his crew of around a dozen employees travel to events and are almost done with their summer fair circuit, he said. His sons, Zach and Riley, are part of the business, as well as his wife, Janine, who runs the restaurant in Arizona.
The Piggly's clan just came from a fair in Lynden and will go to Walla Walla after they leave the Tri-Cities. They caravan their trailers from state to state, bringing along the concession stand, which takes about 10 hours to set up, Sawyers said.
"We definitely get to see the life and the towns," Sawyers said. "It's kind of like the gypsy lifestyle."
The company buys a lot of local products, including meat, from wherever they end up, Sawyers said. They get custom sausage from Texas and a special rub from a family owned business out of Los Angeles. He purchased meat from the URM Cash & Carry in Kennewick for this year's fair.
"We always have a couple hundred pounds of beef spinning," Sawyers said.
Sawyers is gearing up for the monthlong state fair in Arizona, where he lives, he said. But he and his family are appreciative they get to celebrate their 50th anniversary in Benton County with friends.
"This is probably one of the best five-day fairs in the entire state of Washington," he said.
Fun Fair events
10 a.m. -- Kid Zone opens.
Noon -- Davis Carnival rides open.
7 p.m. -- Horse Heaven Round-up starts in the rodeo arena.
7:30 p.m. -- Montgomery Gentry on the main stage.
Free with admission to the fair, reserved seats additional $10.
Fair hours -- 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
General admission -- $13 ages 13 and older, $5 seniors and kids 12 and younger. Parking is $8.
More fair coverage: www.tri-cityherald.com/benton-franklin-fair
-- Tyler Richardson: 509-582-1556; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @Ty_richardson