Fans of fair food rejoice

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 21, 2011

By Sarah Campbell
SALISBURY — By 7 p.m. Tuesday, Brandie Jordan was devouring her third funnel cake with the help of friend Jaquan Wilson.
“I could live off these,” Wilson said. “They are sweet and delicious.”
Like many, the two look forward to getting the sweet treat every year when the Rowan County Agricultural and Industrial Fair opens up.
“They are crispy and chewy and the powdered sugar just makes them amazing,” Jordan said.
Tyler Arnott satisfied his sweet tooth with piece of chocolate covered cheesecake Tuesday. The cheesecake is frozen on a stick before being dipped in chocolate.
Although it was Arnott’s first sampling of the dessert, he suspects it wouldn’t be his last.
“It’s really good,” he said.
Salisbury-resident Victoria O’Neal said she doesn’t just stick to one favorite, she likes to try different food each year.
She tested the ribbon fries.
“They have a really good flavor,” she said.
Cindy Velazquez said she gets a bloomin’ onion at the fair every year.
“It’s the only time I really eat one,” she said.
Richard Hicks can’t walk past the roasted corn without stopping to buy an ear.
“It’s the perfect mix of sweet and savory because of the butter,” he said.
Hicks doesn’t add any toppings to his corn, but everything from garlic pepper to cayenne pepper to seasoning salt is available at the stand Triple B’s.
The Cabarrus County-based family has been roasting corn at the fair for the past six years.
Co-owner Cynthia Buckwell said the family sells about 40 cases of corn during the fair.
“Of course, we provide toothpicks,” Buckwell joked.
While some flocked to sweets and snacks, others opted for meals.
The Ware family enjoyed chicken and dumplings made by the Millbridge Ruritan Club.
“They’re excellent. We look forward to getting them every year at the fair,” John Ware said. “It’s just a tradition for us to get them out here.”
George El-Khouri of Salsbury has been getting chicken and dumplings at the fair since he moved to Rowan County 31 years ago, back when the Liberty Fire Department cooked them.
“They’re one of my favorite things,” he said.
So what makes the chicken and dumplings so great?
“I think it’s the atmosphere, there is just something about the fair,” El-Khouri said.
Amanda Bowman, who works for the Spencer Jaycees, said Hoff’s pork chop sandwich is the fair food she craves the most.
“I don’t consider it the fair until I’ve had one,” she said. “It’s crispy, but the inside is gooey, it’s just really good.”
Hoff’s became a traveling operation when the family operated restaurant based in Lexington closed in 2005.
Jennifer Hines, who served as restaurant manager, says patrons of the Hoff’s continue to flock to the fair and other events to satisfy their hankering for a pork chop sandwich.
“We built that reputation at the restaurant and it continues to follow us,” she said.
Owners Larry and Teresa Hoffner start preparing food for the fair each day by about 10 a.m. with the help of family members Jennifer Hines, Zach Hines and Dean Hoffner.
“We cook the food continuously all day because everything is fresh and made-to-order,” Jennifer Hines said.
Larry Hoffner said it’s hard to explain the hype surrounding “signature” pork chop sandwich made with mustard, chili, slaw and onions.
“You just have to try one,” he said.
Doug Moses did just that Tuesday. The Salisbury resident had tried pork chop sandwiches from other places, but never Hoff’s.
“I like it, it’s worth a repeat,” he said.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.
Today at the fair
9 a.m.-noon — Kindergarten/Head Start day; free admission to exhibits and barn.
4 p.m. — Gates open; School Days: Public school children from designated area schools admitted for $1 or two cans of food with special ticket.
5 p.m. — Rides and food open. Wristband for unlimited rides $20.
5 p.m. — Children’s barnyard.
5 p.m. and 7 p.m. — Health System Cooking Show.
6:30 p.m. — To be announced.
7 p.m. — Figure 8 racing.
7:30 p.m. — Nojoe’s Clown Circus.
8:30 p.m. — To be announced.
9:30 p.m. — Nojoe’s Clown Circus.