Local News

Highlands County fair features fare staples

SEBRING - For Chaise Faircloth, food definitely adds to the experience of attending the Highlands County Fair.

She loves corn dogs, pop corn and ice cream.

The same is true for George White, who said every year he eats chicken and yellow rice at the Strawberry Shack. On Thursday night, however, White said he couldn't resist getting barbecue parfait at Porky's Barbecue, which consisted of a cup-shaped container with pork, mashed potatoes and barbecue sauce.

Those who enjoy funnel cake, a fair staple, and were looking for a Valentine's Day gift for their spouse, could buy a heart-shaped funnel cake from Kathy Ross, who owns Ross Concessions in Sarasota.

But for some, the food experience went beyond fair staples of hamburgers, hotdogs, cotton candy, funnel cakes, french fries, ice cream, popcorn, kettle corn and many other items.

Such was the case with Kimmy's Sugar Shack.

J.B. Benton of Sebring, said the concession stemmed to a large degree from his wife, Kim Benton, being a cancer survivor.

He said that after recovering from cancer, his wife extensively searched for a job, but couldn't find one. He said he believes her being a cancer survivor had some impact on that.

So to help out his wife, he said, he used several thousands of dollars from his excavation business to finance the start of the concession.

Kim Benton said it has meant a lot for her to work outside of the house.

"We both came up with it to together as a way to make some extra money and as a way to find me some employment out of the house," she said. "It has meant a lot and it meant a lot that my husband was willing to finance it for me to do work outside of the work out of the home."

She said she believes being a cancer survivor hurt her chances of getting a job.

"Once people find out you are a medical risk, they try to find employees elsewhere," she said. "It's a sad thing, but its true."

She said she has to take time off work for doctor's appointments and "there are times I just don't feel good, and again that's time off of work. There's a lot of employers who just don't want to deal with it," she said.

At Kimmy's Sugar Shack, fair attendees could get kettle corn, sweet tea and a caramelized apple shaped like a bloomin onion.

White, who said he enjoyed the kettle corn, said he also likes the chicken and yellow rice at the Strawberry Shack. Part of the reason he gets the chicken and yellow rice, he said, is that proceeds from the sale of items, such as the chicken, hamburgers and hotdogs, goes to Project Graduation. The money collected for that provides graduating seniors a free trip on graduation night to Wet n' Wild in Orlando.

The students travel to and from there by bus and have no opportunity to get alcohol, an organizer said.


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