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Fair Vendors Offer Unique Products

A Little Bit of Everything: Deep-Fried Butter, Emu Oil and More Vie for Attention at Southwest Washington Fair

By Lisa Broadt / lbroadt@chronline.com

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Between the neon and the noise, it’s tough to stand out at the Southwest Washington Fair.

To cut through the blur of activity and rows and rows of vendors, you need something unique.

For Faith Haney, that’s deep-fried butter.

“There’s already corn dogs and curly fries. Doughnuts have been done,” Haney, Yakima, said Wednesday afternoon. “You have to bring something new.”

Stand by her booth near the expo hall and inevitably, within seconds, you’ll hear: “Deep fried butter?”

“Just what the doctor ordered,” answers the sign on her booth. “It’s heart-stopping good!”

Despite its name, the snack is not, in fact, a fried stick of butter.

Rather, it is a battered and deep-fried ball of butter — a donut hole with an “explosion of butter when you bite in,” Haney said.

The $6 snack is served with cinnamon, sugar and raspberry topping, and, according to Haney, has already proved one of her most popular items.

Creagle Concessions, Haney’s food vending company, offers an array of deep-fried delicacies, including potato spirals with savory toppings, waffle sticks and deep-fried ice cream.

Deep-fried Twinkies — an endangered snack ever since Hostess went bankrupt — also have been popular this year, most likely due to their increasing rarity, the food vendor said.

Haney is a woman of many talents. In past years she was a balloon artist, turned circus performer turned clown. Now, she splits her time between running a Yakima hair salon and selling treats at fairs throughout the Pacific Northwest.

She also is a lifelong fried food lover.

“When I was clowning, I always said that one day I’d buy a deep frier and make doughnuts,” she said.

After hanging up her red nose and floppy shoes, Haney, true to her word, went on eBay and bought an Orbitz fryer.

Standing at her booth with her mom, Sandy Kohn, also from Yakima, on Tuesday, Haney said it’s too soon to know if sales will be good — but she’s off to a promising start.

 

Down the road, Nusulah Kinene also had an eye-catchingly unique sign. Her’s read: “Fair Trade.”

Kinene, of Kampala, Uganda, is in the United States to sell wares that she and other Ugandan artists created.

“We’re committed to making sure artists get paid fair wages for their work,” Kinene said. “We’re committed to being transparent and creating a safe workplace.”

At her booth on Wednesday were lines of brightly-colored woven baskets.

Sales have been slow so far, but, Kinene hopes, will pick up as the week goes on.

Kinene has been in the United States for a little over a month and will return home in a few weeks. This is the third and final fair of her trip, she said.

 

Nearby, Janean Parker offered all things emu: Emu oil, emu lotion, dried emu eggs.

The products come from 3 Feathers Emu Ranch and Farm, near Adna, which Parker, her husband, Tony, and daughter Emily run.

The family got into emu farming about four years ago; emus, Parker said, seemed to be a profitable choice for a small plot of land.

About 80 birds live on about 2 acres at 3 Feathers, Parker said. Many of the products for sale on Wednesday were from Parker’s emus — the oil is made from processed emu fat.

Others were from other commercial lines; 3 Feathers is still working to be self-sustaining

“We make our own soap and body butter,” Parker said. “Our goal is, as we learn more, to slowly add in lotions and balms.”

When the Parkers first started selling emu products, many potential customers were leery.

“It’s an unusual product, but it’s growing,” Parker said. “People have to be exposed to it several times. But it’s a national industry that’s growing as people learn about its benefits.”

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