In the Neighborhood: Behind the Kettle Corn at WV State Fair

Enjoy 10 days of fun at the WV State Fair beginning Thursday, August 9th through Saturday the 18th. You’ll have memorable fun with Grandstand concerts (see AGENDA), performances on Sprint Center Stage, carnival rides, livestock and garden competitions, a variety of contests, and an abundance of fair food from cinnamon rolls to the famous Mountaineer Burger, and everything in between, including locally owned/operated Blue Ribbon Kettle Corn.

Owned and operated by Carmela and Artie Shires (pictured above), Blue Ribbon Kettle Corn is in its 16th year, offering fairgoers with local kettle corn and homemade lemonade. Carmela tells us, “This year marks our 16th year at the WV State Fair. Our Kettle Corn is popped fresh daily at the fair in the red tent by our Kettle Corn and lemonade log cabin trailer.” She goes onto tell us about her other concession stand, Swanky Franks. “In addition to Blue Ribbon Kettle Corn, we have a permanent stand Swanky Franky’s where we sell corndogs and fried green tomatoes and Grandstand Concessions serving concessions for all of the shows.”

“It is not an easy process but it is possible to have a food business with the fair if you are very dedicated to your business and willing to work hard.” – Carmela Shires

Carmela says her and Artie started the concession stand venture in the early 00’s when she met with Ed Rock, the former WV State Fair CEO. She explains, “He very helpful in providing information and advice on how to get started. He encouraged me to look for a food that the fair did not have. That search led me to Kettle Corn and the beginning of our business. I then completed a concessionaire application with the fair.  It is not an easy process but it is possible to have a food business with the fair if you are very dedicated to your business and willing to work hard. I think finding something new and different is very important. I also think that anyone seriously interested in getting started in the business should contact the concessions manager and meet with them. Ask for advice and suggestions. Their knowledge will help you decide if this is something you want to pursue.”

This state fair season, be on the lookout for the red tent so you can enjoy the best kettle corn and homemade lemonade around. For the full state fair schedule, visit

– HashtagWV #104. August 2018.

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