Some go to the Benton Franklin Fair & Rodeo to see the livestock, others for the rides and games. But if you're like Jason Bergan of Pasco, you go for the food.
The more exotic it is, the better Bergan likes it.
"I used to come for the beefalo burgers, but the people who had them stopped coming. When I walked through the gate today and heard there was deep fried alligator on a stick, I had to have some," he said.
So how was it?
"It really has a bite to it," he joked as he shared a skewer of the crispy meat with his son, Ronnie.
"No, actually, it's like chicken gizzards, a little chewy," he said.
"It tastes good," Ronnie said.
The alligator and its companions on a stick -- deep fried bacon, pickles and mushrooms -- are all new to the fair this year. They're the brainchild of Craig Sawyers of Mesa, Ariz., who owns the Piggly's concession booths.
"I don't know where he gets his ideas," said his son, Zach Sawyers, who was in charge of the deep fryer Wednesday afternoon.
Also new to the fair are Faith Haney's deep fried butter balls. The Yakima vendor created the sweet treats last year, introducing them at the Central Washington State Fair.
"They were a hit," she said.
Haney serves her fried butter balls topped with cinnamon-sugar or raspberry jam but Tracy Dokie of Kennewick liked them plain.
"They're delicious, buttery in the middle -- not unlike a pre-buttered roll -- and tasty," Dokie said.
Her great-niece Reagan Schwartz, 41/2, and great-nephew Brayden Schwartz, 8, both of Kennewick, who were attending the fair with her Wednesday, agreed.
The three also had a fondness for Haney's Chips on a Stick, baker potatoes scrubbed, skewered, spiral cut, deep fried, then seasoned. Haney's most popular seasoning is garlic-parmesan but a close second is salt and vinegar.
To eat the chips, hold one end of the skewer and pull them off one at a time.
"It's real finger food," Dokie said.
In the five years she has been selling foods at fairs and festivals Haney's found, "you have to have a gimmick."
"Unless you have the market on ice cream and that's all you do, you have to compete with every other food vendor. My foods on a stick are definitely a walkable fair food," Haney said.
To make her deep fried butter balls, Haney wraps sweetened dough around about two tablespoons of butter and deep fries it.
"The dough absorbs most of the butter, but right out of the fryer you get a small burst of butter flavor when you bite in," Haney said.
Haney said she gets a lot of funny looks when people first read her sign, "Deep Fried Butter, Heart Stopping Good."
"I wish I had a nickel for every time people say, 'Oh, my gosh,' " she laughed. "Yet those same people never think twice about eating a corn dog or a big plate of curly fries."
"When I say my butter balls are just what the doctor ordered, they always come back with, 'Not my doctor.' I just tell them they need a second opinion. You have to have fun with them," she said.
Over at the deep-fried-alligator-on-a-stick booth, Zach Sawyers gets a lot of questions too.
"They always ask if it's fake alligator. Now where would we get fake?" he asked.
The alligator, tail and leg meat, is shipped in from Florida.
It's their best seller, followed by deep fried bacon.
Spotting the bacon skewer, Alejandra Quiroz of Kennewick, called it "heart attack on a stick," and opted for the deep fried mushrooms instead.
-- Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; email@example.com