Food trailer blues

Proprietors struggle as fairs canceled due to virus

Staff photo / Guy Vogrin Erin Cotterman of North Bloomfield sprinkles powdered sugar on French waffles during Friday’s Fair Food Frenzy event at the Trumbull County fairgrounds.

BAZETTA — Several food-trailer proprietors were hopeful this strange COVID-19 summer of 2020 would be just be a blip and things could get back to normal soon.

About a dozen trailers set up along the main drive Friday afternoon for the Trumbull County Fair Board’s third and last “food frenzy” of the summer. For pasta hustler Ron Wolf of Niles, who has been taking his Lobo’s Pasta Concessions food trailers to fairs and festivals across the state for 29 years, this Bazetta event has been the only game in town.

“We haven’t done any other ones this year. We are still waiting to see what happens at Wooster and Ashland,” Wolf said talking about the Ohio county fairs that were set for September prior to Gov. Mike DeWine’s order to cancel all fair events other than junior fairs on Tuesday.

Wolf, who runs the pasta operation with his wife Pat, said they have been thinking seriously about selling their business, which got its start at the Canfield Fair.

“We have to get somebody to do as well as we have,” Wolf said, noting their sauce has been made from scratch.

Tina Starr of Boardman, who was at Friday’s event selling ice cream cones and apple dumplings, said she has to go to different places around the Mahoning Valley to make up for the lost fair and festival businesses.

“It was hard to get four cancellations last Friday,” Starr said saying they still regularly set up at the Rogers flea market in Columbiana County. “The world is not the same.”

Starr said her business was devastated by the recent cancellation of the Canfield Fair.

“I thought that I could make a go of it this year if we could only get to Canfield, but it was not to be,” Starr said.

The Cottermans of North Bloomfield, Erin and Travis, had their original waffle stand on the Trumbull County midway. The original Buckeye waffle recipe has been used by only three people since 1895, Travis Cotterman said.

He said he hopes that the Great Geauga Fair can be opened because he said the operators of the Burton event, the oldest fair in Ohio, may go to court to overturn the health rulings.

In the meantime, Cotterman said his business was limited to the Bazetta food events as well as two food fairs in Jefferson.

Jacki Mitton of West Farmington, who has been part of her family’s Burbach Concessions since 1973, said she has used the extra income from the food trailers for family expenses like college tuition and dance lessons.

“It also keeps the kids busy,” she said, pointing to her three children who were working the corn dog stand with her Friday.

Jack Richardson, who is the fourth generation of his family french fries business, said the summer of 2020 has been unique and he’s seen a lot through the years at festivals and fairs. He noted his dad’s aunt, Ethel, started the famous french fry stand at the old Idora Park in Youngstown.

“My dad got started in 1946 at Craig Beach,” he said.


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