LUMBERTON — There are three things people can expect to enjoy at the fair — live entertainment, fun rides and good food.
This year’s 71st annual Robeson Regional Agricultural Fair doesn’t disappoint, particularly when it comes to the food. Barbecue, funnel cakes, pizza, and collard sandwiches are just some of the culinary marvels waiting to tantalize the taste buds.
At the entrance fairgoers can turn to the right and see Dayday’s offering up chicken wrapped in bacon, barbecue sandwiches, turkey legs and whole slabs of ribs. Owners Robert Edwards and his wife, Felicia Edwards, have been grilling up pork for over 15 years and they are no strangers to the Robeson Regional Agricultural Fair. This will mark their 10th year coming through from Florence, S.C.
“It doesn’t get tiring,” Edwards said Thursday as he watched over the meat and the steady stream of customers. “When tiredness starts to come over me, more people come in.”
Robert and Felicia started out with just one small grill and now they have up upgraded to a three-section grill that can cook about 60 turkey legs on each section. The family bought 60 cases of meat for the fair and the couple already have been forced to place a new meat order.
“Hopefully we have enough,” Felicia said.
Their best sellers are the turkey legs that sell for $9 per leg and the ribs that cost $30 for a full slab, Felicia said. The ribs are coated in the Edwards’ famous barbecue sauce, which can be bought by the bottle.
When they’re not consigning the couple are selling their products, Dayday’s pork skins and cracklings.
“We fry them up every week right in our back yard,” Felicia said.
They start preparing their meats the day before, she said. They get all the meat thawed out and ready for the seasoning and then they heat them up right before the dinner guests arrive.
“I give thanks to our customers and all their years of support,” Robert said.
Fairgoers who still have room for dessert can walk farther down to J&L Concessions, where funnel cakes, Oreo cookies, and Snickers and Milky Way bars are deep-fried. Wyatt Grant, of Florida, said he and his girlfriend, Caitie Bently, travel up and down the East Coast in his uncle’s food stand all summer and sell the popular fair sweets.
J&L Concessions has been to 20 of the 71 Robeson County fairs and has built a following among the fairgoers.
Grant said food tastes are different every place they go.
“In New York, they love the elephant ears, but here it’s all about the funnel cakes,” he said. “They just want funnel cake with powdered sugar and they’re good.”
They sell about 600 funnel cakes on a typical weekday. On Saturday, they sold about 1,200.
“It was a good day for us,” Bently said.
It’s because they are well-known, she said. Customers are loyal to the stand and usually come through whenever they can. Some customers come as many as three times a day.
“I don’t remember the names but I remember the faces,” Grant said.
“And what they’re going to order,” Bently said.
Grant said he grew up in the business. J&L Concessions began in 1984 with Grant’s grandparents, Jim and Lona Grant. The couple started out with only a stick tent and some tarp. Grant’s uncle, Bryan Coker, later took over and now they have multiple stands that travel around the United States.
Lona came up with the recipe for the funnel cakes and Jim made the dough recipe used to dip the sweets. The funnel cakes are made with a pancake-like batter and funneled into the fryer. The fried cookie dough is made by just freezing the cookies or candy bars and dipping them in the batter and deep frying them.
“If you don’t freeze them, they’ll just melt in the oil,” Grant said.
“We haven’t changed anything. We’ve been doing it the same way for 30 years,” Grant said.
Gates open at 4:30 p.m. today and the local entertainment will take the stage starting at 6 p.m. Foxy 99 will have their “Big Night Out” on the main stage starting at 7 p.m.
Fair weather is again in the forecast. Saturday is the last day of the fair.
Tomeka Sinclair can be reached at 910-416-5865