Walk softly this weekend, but carry a big stick

Skewered fare is huge at the Minnesota State Fair. Chocolate cheesecake, frozen grapes, wild-rice corndogs, deep-fried Milky Way candy bars, pork…

Skewered fare is huge at the Minnesota State Fair.

Chocolate cheesecake, frozen grapes, wild-rice corndogs, deep-fried Milky Way candy bars, pork chops, shrimp, even spaghetti and meatballs — all served on a stick.

And when a tourist from the mid-western state came north this summer to visit Whitehorse, she gave Old Fire Hall Market organizer Deanna Slonski a unique fundraising idea.

“They have over 50 vendors and that’s the only way you can sell food there, if it’s on a stick, and I thought, ‘well, that’s interesting,’” said Slonski.

“I’ve been fundraising for a lot of different organizations over the past few years and I know how hard it is,” she said.

She’s tired of the run-of-the-mill bake sales, car washes and bottle drives, so Slonski is offering local organizations and charities a way to raise a few bucks by serving up skewered treats.

Slonski knew the strange idea would be a hit in Whitehorse and went to work on the Yukon’s First Annual Food on a Stick Fair, which will be held this weekend on the south patio of the Old Fire Hall building.

Although things like candy apples, kabobs and cotton candy are welcome at the fair, Slonski is looking for folks to go the extra mile — to think outside the stick.

Imagination is the only limitation, she said.

Over the course of the event — which will last Saturday and possibly Sunday if there’s enough interest — customers will vote on their favourite creations.

And the vendor who garners the most votes will be given all of the rental fees for their charity or non-profit.

Slonski is not sure what skewered treats will be on offer at the fair; because it’s a competition, the vendors are keeping their creations a secret.

And anything is allowed as long as it’s skewered.

Slonski also managed the Old Fire Hall Market, which drew nearly 400 people per day to the new location on First Avenue.

“Tourists loved it,” she said. “It was in an ideal location between the tourist information centre and the hotels.

“And the artists and vendors that were there were manning their own booths so people got to meet the creators of the products.

“People like that,” she said.

“We have more artists in this town than we have anywhere in Canada and there are not enough venues for people to show their work.”

And the Old Fire Hall’s central location allows for a lot of foot traffic, it also sits on the trolley’s path.

Slonski hopes this weekend’s fair will also let more local people know about the new venue.

Opening the location this summer was a pilot project to see whether the public would use the space.

“The numbers that we got this summer were great, but I would have liked to see more Whitehorse people there,” Slonski said.

“I’m really adamant that heritage buildings, like the fire hall, should be left as public spaces.”

The food on a stick fair will run Saturday and Sunday (if there’s enough interest) from noon to 8 p.m.

All vendors must have a permit from Environmental Health — permits are free and available online or at its office.

Rental fees are $20 per day and all booths must be clearly marked with the charity or organization they are representing.

Call 334-7851 to register.

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