LUMBERTON — The bill of fare at the county fair is hard to ignore.
There is no shortage of food vendors tempting fair-goers with something tasty. There seems to be something for everyone from pastel colored cotton candy and powdered funnel cakes to tilapia and cheese fries.
Officials with the 67th annual Robeson Regional Agricultural Fair said that they have increased the variety of things that people can eat.
“You’re not just seeing things. We do have more speciality foods in this year,” said Everett Davis, a member of the fair board for more than 40 years. “For example we now have seafood plates and things like corn-on-the-cob and red velvet funnel cakes. The variety is just a lot bigger.”
Howard Hammonds of Lumberton was cooking up one of the new fish specialities — tilapia and whiting. He also offered grilled or fried chicken tenders, chicken wings and chili cheese fries.
“We cook at fairs and festivals and park events,” said Hammonds, who named his business Lee’s Cooking, after his father. “The response has been good and we stay busy. You can’t beat that.”
Fair-goer Haynes Deese said he noticed some of the new choices, but decided to stick with fair favorites like barbecue and freshly made cheeseburgers.
“After a while you just know which places have the best food,” said Deese, who lives between Rowland and Pembroke. “They keep coming back and I do too.”
As Deese talked at Friday night’s fair, he held a tight grip on two huge Italian sausage dogs wrapping in aluminum foil.
“If I had gone home with one and my wife tried to take it, there would be a fight,” Deese said. “To keep everyone happy, I got two.”
Robert “Day Day” Edwards, a long-time fair vendor, said the bad weather hindered his food sales at the beginning of the week, but business had been brisk most of Friday. He expects to do even better today.
Edwards was manning a huge outdoor grill. When he lifted its lid, there were rows of sizzling turkey legs, chicken pieces and ribs. He was slathering some of the meat with “a secret sauce.”
“The rides and the exhibits are fun,” said Edwards, who lives in Marietta. “But it’s the food that really makes the fair, the fair. Everyone might not get on a ride, but everyone eats something out here.”
In addition to the fair’s offering, home cooks will have a chance to show what they can do.
There will be a number of cooking competitions today, including the 19th Annual Chicken Bog Cook-off from noon to 6 p.m. and the Youth Steak Cook-off beginning at 2 p.m.
Also today, the 37th annual Diaper Derby returns. It will be held from 3 to 4 p.m.
The fair opens at 8 a.m. and closes at midnight, ending its nine-day run. General admission costs $6 and children 3 and under get in free. Daily events include a petting zoo, antiques display, 4-H shows and The Barn Yard Review, a new children’s show.
Visitors will still have a variety of live entertainment to enjoy. Comedy hypnotist Alan Sands will put people to sleep at least twice a night, and the Puppetone Rockers will perform three shows a day.
For information or to buy tickets, visit www.robesoncountyfair.com.