Chowing down at the fair |

Chowing down at the fair

Close to dinner time, the tiny, make-shift kitchen behind the tempura booth at the Nevada County Fair is a riot of boisterous voices, merry faces and swift hands chopping, frying and serving traditional Japanese food to a steady stream of customers.

Tempura, a dish of battered vegetables and seafood, is just one of the several multi-cultural cuisine featured this year at the Nevada County Fair.

From stir-fried teriyaki beef from the Far East to hot, crunchy tacos from Mexico, to steaming pasties from Cornwall, fairgoers have quite a mix of food to choose from and indulge their fun-stoked appetites.

“I think people are hungry for all different flavors and experiences, and for something they don’t cook at home,” said Julie Zumwalt, a volunteer at the tempura booth. “People love our tempura onion rings and the zucchini.”

About 15 volunteers work in shifts to cover more than 12 hours each day at the tempura booth sponsored by the Nevada County Association of the Developmentally Disabled, Zumwalt said. The proceeds from the sales will be divided among several local groups working with the disabled in Nevada County, Zumwalt added. Each of those nonprofits has volunteers helping out at the booth.

The taco shack at the fair is also popular with foodies.

“By the end of the fair, we’ll have sold 10,000 to 12,000 tacos,” said Chuck Woerner, vice-president of the Nevada City Lion’s Club, the sponsor of the booth.

“I think people are very diverse (in their tastes),” Woerner said. “I don’t like to just try hamburgers. I like Thai food, Chinese food.”

Money raised from the Lion’s Club booth will go to various nonprofits including Child Advocates of Nevada County, Cub Scouts Pack 23, Krisis Kare Nursery and the Nevada Union High School choir.

The fair also will get its customary 12 percent of sales, Woerner added.

“When you come to the fair, you relax your tastes and try new things,” said Tom Allen, a volunteer at the pastie booth. “It’s like you’re on vacation.”

The pasties stuffed with roast beef, potato and onions is a particular favorite with fairgoers, said Amberlie Allen, Tom Allen’s daughter and a 16-year-old student at Bear River High School.

“On the opening night, we sold 300 pasties,” Tom Allen said. “We get the pasties frozen from Cousin Jack Pasties on East Main Street and cook them here in two ovens.”

After the fair – formally known as the 17th District Agricultural Association – receives its percentage, proceeds from the sales at the pastie booth will benefit the Meadowlarks 4-H Club in south county, Tom Allen said.

Dressed in dapper cowboy attire, 17-year-old Seth Nix stood outside the Lions Club booth waiting for his taco.

“I’ve eaten at almost all the booths here,” Nix said, scanning the long line of food stalls. “I like Mexican food a lot. I try different things all the time.”

“My boyfriend and I, we tried the teriyaki and the bratwurst,” Amberlie Allen said. “Personally, I like different flavors. I want to be a chef when I’m older.”


To contact Soumitro Sen, e-mail or call 477-4229.

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