RHS students get hands-on with Fair fare
By Thorn Compton
RAWLINS — Fairs are a feast for the senses.
Watching people compete in rodeo events, hearing cheers from the stands when their favorite animal is picked as the winner of a show, smelling the — aroma — of animals present.
The most enjoyable and well-known sense appeased by fairs is definitely the sense of taste. Fair food is widely regarded as delicious, greasy, and terrible for you in all the right ways.
The Carbon County Fair is no exception to that rule, and Steve Sanger, owner of Huckleberry’s in downtown Rawlins, has worked to continue that tradition in the two years he has run the concessions for the Fair.
“You have certain expectations when you come to a fair,” Sanger said of the fare he provides. “Fried food is an expectation, but good fried food and bad fried food are quite different.
“If I just hand you a bun, cheese and patty and you do everything else its not satisfying. We went with the ‘Five Guys’ system — you choose everything on your burger and we build it for you.”
Sanger took over the concessions for the Fair last year, after “about five years” of the fair board goading him to take the position.
He said with taking over, he wanted to also include RHS in the running of the concessions and he wanted to provide them with funding for some of their lesser-known organizations.
“I got in contact with assistant principal Travis Moore, my brother-in-law, and we set up a way for kids to do the work in the concessions,” Sanger said. “All we do is order food from the supplier, we teach the kids what to do and turn them loose on the stand.
“Basketball, football, their fundraising is simpler to do. If you’re in FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America), if you’re a band kid like I was in high school, it’s a little more difficult to raise money. Its not something that people donate to often.”
Sanger said all of the proceeds from the concession stand go to the high school to fund those programs that are less likely to receive donation.
He also said he thinks teaching these kids to work together in a somewhat stressful environment prepares them for work later on in life.
“A lot of times these aren’t kids that interact with each other inside the school,” Sanger said. “They are kind of divided, we have some freshmen, some upper-classmen. They learn to work together in order to provide people that come to the stand with a quality product.”
Recent renovations to the concessions have made the second year for Sanger much easier he said. They now have a walk-in freezer to keep their food up to standards, which Sanger said is much better than their previous technique of storing food at the high school and running back and forth between there and the fairgrounds.
“It’s such a great thing for us because we are so used to running all day long to get stuff,” Sanger said of having the walk-in. “Now it feels like we aren’t even doing anything because it’s all here and we don’t have to go anywhere.”
They also have simplified the work for kids from the high school to more easily pick up how to run the stand.
“We tried to simplify our ordering system so there is minimal training, because we knew we wouldn’t get any,” Sanger said. “The kids walk through the door and we tell them where they are working and what they do and they get to it.”
Sanger still has grand plans for the concessions moving forward, like lifting the ceiling and expanding room in the kitchen for extra work.
“A lot of really good, really smart people are helping us do what we want to do, which will just make us faster and give us more opportunity to do different kinds of food and not necessarily just fair food,” Sanger said.
Patrons need not worry though — Sanger promised the traditional fair food would continue to be a staple of the Carbon County Fair for years to come.