The Arkansas State Fair is one of many events that have been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. But an alternate event is being hosted this weekend at the state fairgrounds where people can eat their favorite fair foods.
The fair's Director of Sales and Promotions Will Hornburg said he wanted to have an event where people could come out and enjoy food, while also giving vendors the opportunity to generate business since they’ve been severely impact by the outbreak.
“We’re doing what we’re calling Taste of the Fair as an alternative, just a small event because that’s about the only thing you can do these days, but still gives people a chance to come out and eat some of the food,” Hornburg said. “Now the restrictions have loosened a little bit where we can allow people to sit here and eat it, and they don’t have to just take it with them. But we just want to be able to try and keep ourselves front of mind and help our partners as well.”
Many safety measures are being enforced when people arrive. Hornburg said only 500 people will be allowed in the event at a time, people will have to social distance in the lines, attendees will have to wear face masks, and food vendors are required to sanitize their counters every half-hour.
“All the food is going to be packaged in to-go containers so it’s all covered,” Hornburg said. “Any of the condiments, that kind of stuff, are all going to be individual condiments. There’s no open bars where people can get mustard and ketchup and all that stuff because we’re trying to be very conscious of what we’re doing, and then any of the tables that we have, if anybody wants to sit down and eat, they can sit down and eat. But as soon as they’re done, we’re going to have somebody there to clean the table and have it ready for the next person.”
With the cancellation of the Arkansas State Fair, fair officials have had to make financial decisions to stay within their budget. Hornburg said some employees were furloughed, and that the fair could no longer do any special projects.
“You know, the state fair—it probably accounts for 85 to 90% of our revenue,” Hornburg said. “This has just been a really hard year. Our rental revenue’s been down, we’ve been able to take advantage of some of the government assistance programs, the payroll protection, and things like that. But yeah, we had a good fair last year, so we’ve got some money in reserves, we’re okay, and we’re just hoping to weather the storm and get through to next year.”
Funnel cakes, corndogs, turkey legs, and fried lasagna are some of the many food choices people will have. Taste of the Fair will take place at the state fairgrounds, just off West Roosevelt Road in Little Rock. It will be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day.