With some events canceled this year due to the pandemic, people are missing their usual favorites from state and local festivals.

Give guests the carnival magic they crave with a limited-time menu of fair favorites, and make a fun, memorable event for your patrons to enjoy! Here’s how to do it:

Fair Menu Design

Let the fair be your guide as you create a small, limited-time menu of carnival-inspired fare. Think candy apples and corn dogs but put your own spin on it! One big carnival category is fried foods. They will literally deep fry anything at the fair (Oreos! Pickles! BUTTER!?), so join in on the fun by frying unexpected things in your own deep fryer. Look for unexpected or even elevated ingredients on your existing menu that might be ripe for a dip in the ol’ fry-o-later, and serve with fun dipping sauces. The fair is also a natural place for indulging your sweet tooth, which means you can find a ton of dessert inspo, from cotton candy to elephant ears to ice cream.

A Festive Environment

The fair is all about fun, from the rides to the games. Look for opportunities to bring that fun to your decor. Maybe there are some games you could provide at the table or a simple DIY photo opp that looks like a roller coaster ride. Get in the spirit of the fair, and decorate around that vibe with hay bales, pumpkins, and quilts!

One way to bring in the game-play element is to gamify your menu and/or experience. Offer guests a prize (maybe a dessert or gift certificate) for checking off a certain number of menu items or visits, and don’t forget to share the winners on social media. You could also offer prizes for guests who share on social media — You could give a “blue ribbon” (which could translate to a certain reward of your choosing) to the best post within a certain timeframe.

Spread the Word

A clever, unique idea like this is exactly what local media and influencers want to share with their audiences. Give them a heads up about your plans, including a sneak peek at menus and a special offer to come enjoy your carnival menu early in its run so they can get the word out. And don’t forget to tease menu items on social media and share the details with your newsletter subscribers.

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