The food booths inside the Puyallup Fair’s gates aren’t the only places where fairgoers can buy fries, burgers and even scones.
A handful of vendors – who aren’t affiliated with the fair – set up on the streets outside during the 17-day run in September.
Like their counterparts inside, running stands outside the gates can be a family tradition.
Tom Creighton owns a lot across from the fair’s Red Gate. For decades, he’s been selling treats – this year he has everything from corn dogs to elephant ears – during the event.
He said he doesn’t aspire to sell his food inside. He can offer lower prices where he is because he doesn’t have to share profits with the fair and can use his own product suppliers, he said.
Down the street, across from the Gold Gate, Ginny Vrieze recently stood behind the deep-fryer in her Vrieze’s Fleischkuechle truck. (Fleischkuechle, a German-Russian dish, is a deep-fried turnover.)
Vrieze took over the truck and business with family members after the previous owners retired after the 2010 fair. Those previous owners – sisters-in-law Pat Jorgensen and Pat Tuthill – had taken over the operation in 1993 from Tuthill’s aunts, who started it three decades before.
At the Vrieze truck, diners can take their pick between meat and fruit versions. Vrieze said customers come from around the region and beyond for their annual fixes.
Business was steady at the truck last week, and there was a familiar face behind the counter. Jorgensen, one of the retired former owners, was on hand helping out.
She said she and Tuthill once considered trying to secure a spot selling their turnovers inside the fair, but being outside ultimately worked better for them. They liked the freedom, she said.
About four food vendors were operating outside the gates last Monday. At one point, they had a lot more company.
The streets outside the gates years ago were a “mini-fair” unto themselves, with numerous vendors, Jorgensen recalled.
“You could get anything,” Vrieze added. “It was great.”
Now much of the space immediately around the grounds is covered in parking or other fair uses, including the spot off Fairview Drive by the Red Gate where the fleischkuechle truck used to email@example.com 253-552-7058 blog.thenewstribune.com/street @TNTschilling