Food vendors struggle as fairs shut down due to COVID-19 restrictions

Kim Barr Fair Food Fest Yakima

YAKIMA, Wash. — Fairs across the state have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving food vendors who rely on income from fairs at a loss.

Pacific Crest Concessions owner Kim Barr was scheduled to provide food at 25 fairs this year, but almost all of them were canceled or postponed, save one in February prior to the shutdown and the Fair Food Fest this weekend at State Fair Park in Yakima.

“It’s been an emotional roller coaster for us this year, for sure,” Barr said.

Barr’s fair-filled journey began in 1986 with the purchase of a Hawaiian teriyaki trailer and started her business the following year. She said it’s been 34 years since her first time serving food at the Central Washington State Fair.

Providing fair-goers with Hawaiian teriyaki and funnel cakes across the region continues to be Barr and her husband’s sole source of income. Their daughter-in-law and two sons year-round work for them and also rely on that income.

“They have since had to go out and get jobs to support them through the winter,” Barr said. “It is all of the income for all three families.”

But this weekend, Barr said the family’s all back together, serving Yakima residents at Fair Food Fest and getting to see their “fair family.”

“Yakima has supported us for so many years and the people love our food — the teriyaki and the funnel cakes,” Barr said. “This is our home, this is our family.”

Barr said this event is the last one of the season for her, but that she hopes the family will be back together for next fair season, starting in April 2021.

“Next year, we’re going to rock it out of the park,” Barr said. “I believe it.”

Fair Food Fest is open Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. More information about the event can be found at fairfun.com.