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Food, glorious fair food!

On Wednesday during the Ravalli County Fair parade, food booth workers at the fairgrounds were setting up, slicing up and preparing to serve up unique and tasty food as fundraisers for nonprofits.

Fair food booths are open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. or until they sell out.

“All our food vendors are excited,” said Melissa Seville, fairgrounds manager. “We have a huge variety from noodles to snow cones to artesian pizza, bacon burgers and tri-tip. Some of the food you can’t get anywhere except at fair, that’s the fun of it. We are 100% supporting nonprofit and are helping the local economy.”

The Knights of Columbus and American Heritage Girls share the first booth to the south on the west side. They serve up rib eye steak sandwiches, French fries and coleslaw with a special deal for families (four sandwiches and plates of fries and slaw for $18).

The Knights of Columbus have multiple service projects. and the American Heritage Girls focus on making polar fleece blankets that they donate for kids who visit the emergency room at Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital. They have made more than 2,500 blankets but had their 2,000th at the food booth.

Isabella Urso, Shannon Urso and Vonnie Gulli were prepping the booth and food for sale.

Isabella Urso said this was her second year in the food booth.

“I think it is awesome,” she said. “My favorite part is hanging out with a few of my best friends and making food for people that is easy to afford. I see people happy at the fair.”

Shannon Urso said usually five to seven people work the fair food booth.

“We have so much fun together that most of us just come, hang out all day and pitch in,” she said.

The Bitterroot Kiwanis Club is selling beef kabobs, fries, corndogs and drinks and the funds raised go to more than 50 projects in the valley, including Christmas Food Baskets and Youth Soccer.

Hamilton High School Key Club President Molly Craig was scrubbing potatoes for making fries on Wednesday.

Craig said scrubbing potatoes was fun because of the supportive adults in the booth.

“Key Club is a community service club; it’s like a younger branch of Kiwanis,” she said. “Right now, we’re the biggest club at Hamilton High School. The Kiwanis are very nice people who make work very enjoyable.”

Sharon Holland, secretary of Kiwanis, was slicing potatoes for fries and said the number of volunteers in the booth depends on the busy sales times, usually five to 10 workers.

“Guys bring their wives and it works good,” she said. “This is our big money maker for the year.”

Kiwanis member Betsy Kratofil was skewering beef for booth sales and said she recently joined the club.

“I joined Kiwanis because Kiwanis gave quite a bit to my kids so I’m giving back to Kiwanis,” she said. “They give a lot to the kids in the Bitterroot Valley.”

Kiwanis members Keith Lyumn and Bryce Satter were setting up the fryer units for food sales.

The Groovy Nanners booth across the way donates to Emma’s House and sells chocolate-covered frozen bananas rolled in candy.

Denise Thibodo was stirring melted chocolate for second dipping.

“As a kid this was a dream come true,” Thibodo said. “I thought what a better dessert than that? To have a banana inside quick-hardening chocolate.”

Topping choices include M&Ms, Butterfingers, Oreo cookies, coconut, peanuts and rainbow sprinkles.

The bananas can come on a stick or sliced on toothpicks (rolled in any variety of toppings) and served in a dish with whipped cream and caramel sauce.

“This is just our second year,” Thibodo said. “Emma’s House is very dear to us. My grandson Max (Nadil) has tap-danced there and Thad and Val are so great. This is an easy booth to work in. We added extra lights. We’re hoping it will be good sales, especially people my age who think, ‘I remember those as a kid.’”

Thibodo said having food row freshly paved cut down on the amount of silt in the booth.

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“I hope the people of the valley notice such a great difference,” she said. “It is so much easier to walk on.”

The Boy Scout Troop 1962 food both on the north east corner of food row has stir-fried noodles on one side and Montana-made Wilcoxson’s ice-cream on the other.

Spokesperson Brenda Fisher said the food is only available four days of the year.

“We have Sriracha sauce for the noodles if you like it hot,” she said. “Come to the Boy Scout booth for your extreme dining pleasure. We have hot and cold.”

Denise Mowat was the head chef for Wednesday.

Cub Scouts (under fifth grade) sell the ice cream with flavors like coffee, sea salt caramel truffle, cotton candy, chocolate, strawberry and huckleberry.

The Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital Auxiliary has been making and selling caramel apples for the Ravalli County Fair for more than 25 years.

“We’ve had a booth for more years but we started out with ice cream,” said volunteer Jan Amoss. “We raise money for the hospital — new equipment and things like that. This, the gift shop and bake sales are the only fundraising projects that we do now, we used to do a whole bunch of things.”

Johnnie Leinan’s husband, John, built their white and red booth several years ago.

“It is the perfect spot, right before the grandstands and in the shade,” Ammos said. “I think we’re still a good deal for $5 — the whole sliced apple with warm homemade caramel sauce.”

Mary Thomas and Peg Doerflier served up the caramel apples Wednesday morning.

Bitterroot Swim Team makes and sells the fried doughy treats called “elephant ears.”

“An elephant ear is just a little piece of heaven,” said booth volunteer Tiffany Jette. “It’s just the best kind of doughnut-pastry thing you can have. They are fried dough covered in cinnamon and sugar. You can’t beat that. They are best served with gobs of butter and tons of honey.”

A typical shift has a mix of parents and swimmers stretching the raised dough in to the biggest frisbee shape possible without any holes, a couple of parents frying the dough, someone coating it with cinnamon and sugar, the youngest swimmers up front getting drinks and middle-age swimmers taking the money.

“It’s a whole family affair and the main fundraiser for the swim team that allows us to keep our team going,” Jette said.

Spuds-R-Us is a group venture by three nonprofits — the Corvallis Grange, the Daly Mansion and the Historic St. Mary’s Mission — merged together to have enough workers for their fundraising booth that sells baked potatoes with topping choices (loaded, veggie, chili and naked).

Joan Lee Nicholson and Carol Page readied the large baked potatoes in the Spud-R-Us food booth Wednesday.

The 4-H food booth has a hefty menu of breakfast, lunch and dinner items with Montana fresh beef and lamb burgers and cheese curds. They also sell fried pickles, and pretzels with cheese.

Mineshaft Pasty Co. is paired up with the nonprofit Hamilton Playhouse with a “Wicked” and mouthwatering line up of food and drinks. The menu has a great theme to bring attention to the Hamilton Players including fresh baked scones and cookies, barista-mixed items like coffee, blended lemonades, Boba teas and Italian sodas, and they are debuting their “Wicked” pasties.

“They are specific to the Hamilton Players and only available at the fair,” said Kristen Hoenstine, owner of Mineshaft. “The ‘Wicked Pasty’ is chicken, garlic, mozzarella, parmesan and potatoes. It will come with ruby red slipper sauce (marinara) or green elixir (pesto alfredo).”

Sweet Sensations sells kettle corn, lemon shakers, funnel cakes and three deep-fried items, ribbon fries, Snickers and Twinkies. They raise funds for the SAFE House.

Manager Billy McCord said funnel cakes have been fair food for many years. Lemon shakers are fresh-squeezed lemonade that can be flavored with strawberries or have an energy drink added, then called a “lemon blaster.”

Up N Smokin BBQ has been at the Ravalli County Fair for nine years and they support Bikers Against Bullies.

Brett Schreyer and George Hebuck man the grill at Up N Smokin BBQ supporting Bikers Against Bullies at the Ravalli County Fair. Turkey legs, pulled pork shoulder and tri-tip are cooked fresh on site and they have two specialty sauces and seasonings.

Other food vendors include Bitterroot Celtic Society, Bitterroot Snow Balls, Corvallis School District, Goody Goo Goo Gumdrops, Grub Guy, Huckleberry jamboree, Kamoon Arabian, Host Trail Hot Springs, Moose Creek BBQ, O’Leary’s Kitchen, Polar Bear Treats, SKC Teriyaki, Snow To Go, Summer B’s, Taste of the Old World and Tony’s Poppin’ Poppers.

Find your favorite food to eat or nonprofit to benefit and sink your teeth into adventurous new items and delicious food at the Ravalli County Fair.

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