When the state fair comes to town. There are a couple of guarantees, cooler weather, rides, and great food.
Some will skip a meal just so they can enjoy some of the great treats. But for the people behind the grill, it's as much of a fun hobby as it is job.
Whether it's corn roasting over hot coals, deep fried gator, or steak shish kabob over a flame Central Mississippians are serving up their version of fair food.
"It's a lot of hard work. A lot of preparation to get ready for this. I mean this is 12 days," said Sherry Covington, owner of The Whistle Stop.
William Patton and his wife have sold roasted corn at the Mississippi State Fair for 28 years. They travel from Hermanville to sell the sweet corn. He got the idea after seeing another vendor selling the farm favorite in the early 80's.
"I tried it and it didn't taste good at all, and I knew it should taste better," said Patton.
This year Patton invested in a television commercial for his booth, reminding customers the treat would be back.
The state fair is the only event the couple will cook at each year.
"Twelve days is so tiring that, that's all we can handle in a year's time. In fact we decided, my wife and I decided several years ago not to ask each other whether we're coming back to the fair again until about July," Patton added.
The Whistle Stop is where you'll find Gator on a Stick. This business started out as a small project six years ago, but now the Byram residents run this as part of their income for the year.
"It's been a lot of hard work, but we've built a great customer base. We see the same faces every year, after year at the fair. They know our menu, know exactly what we have," said Covington.
Takum Outum has three booths at the fair. It's been on the grounds for 40 years.
Becky Fontaine and her husband, of Pearl, have owned it for nearly half of that time. Like other vendors, they employ metro residents during the fair.
Some booths will have five or up to 30 employees.
"We have three booths here and not only do we have the people that work in the booths, we also have kitchen help," said Fontaine.
Fontaine says it has been a lot of hard work to make a the steak and chicken shish kabob's a favorite fair food.
"There is a lot of repeat customers. We have had people who have been coming to us since day one, and they will come up and hug us and Oh I'm so glad to see y'all," Fontaine added.
And they wait all year for it. It's those same familiar faces the business owners enjoy most about their work at the fair.
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