Column: Healthy fair food and umbrellas are on my mind

I receive mail each week from the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University. I read a lot of them. They’re all filled with interesting information. Some have appeared in the Galion Inquirer.

But the one in my inbox Monday morning made me laugh out loud.

It is a regular featured called Chow Line: The article was titled: “Eating healthy at the amusement park.”

Yes, it was funny to me, too.

The Crawford County Fair begins Sunday.

There will be animals and crafts on display, carnival rides, concerts, tractor pulls, harness racing and more.

What there won’t be is a lot of healthy food being sold on the midway.

There will be traditional fair food: hamburgers; greasy fries with salt, ketchup and malt vinegar; funnel cakes coated with powdered sugar; Italian sausages with onions and peppers cooked together on a flat top with plenty of fat on a 400-calorie hoagie bun; big, fat, oily smoked turkey legs; corn dogs; deep fried apple dumplings; gyros; snow cones; deep-fried Snickers bars or Oreo cookies; cotton candy; and great big soft pretzels with lots of salt.

Except for Disney World, I’ve never ever seen grilled salmon and asparagus at a carnival or amusement park. Nor have a seen a fresh, crisp green salad with arugula; tiny grape tomatoes; a few slices of red onions; an ounce or two of grilled chicken breast; sliced strawberries; toasted walnuts or slivered almonds; and a light vinaigrette dressing for sale. I’ve certainly not seen a skinless chicken breast with steamed broccoli.

Still, according to the article from CFAES, there are alternatives to fatty, sugar-loaded fair food.

“One of the best ways to eat healthy at the park is to pack some nutritious meals to bring with you. While many amusement parks won’t let you bring in outside food, you can pack a cooler with ice in your car and fill it with nutritious, portable foods that you can eat throughout the day. Some ideas for the cooler include fruit, nuts, yogurt, sandwiches, and veggies such as carrots and celery sticks, among others.”

These other items are courtesy of CFAES, via and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:

  • Avoid super-sized sodas, lemonades and other sugary drinks. Drink fat-free or low-fat milk or a nice cold glass of water.
  • If you are looking for something sweet, try a candy apple. While they do pack about 300 calories each, the fiber in the apple will help keep you full.
  • Meat and vegetable kabobs allow you to indulge in the food-on-a-stick tradition of amusement park foods without the extra sugar and calories.
  • Corn on the cob is also a good option, preferably without the mounds of butter.

So good luck to you. As I get older, I occasionally try to eat a healthier diet. But not at a county fair.

That’s almost sacrilegious.

Umbrellas for everyone?

It rained Monday morning in Galion, a lot. As I write this, it was was supposed to rain Monday afternoon, and Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday. I don’t mind the rain — watching it anyway — from my workplace doorway.

On Monday, I saw several people walking around downtown. A few had umbrellas. Most did not. They scurried and dashed from their vehicle to their destination.

I’m one of those who did not, even though I own at least three umbrellas.

  • One — a great big red and white one — I leave by my golf bag. If it rains during my planned golf outing, I know right where that umbrella is … at home, by the back door, where I left it on my way out the door.
  • I also have a black umbrella. It’s a little more formal. I bought it a couple years ago at Macy’s or Kohls or JC Penney, thinking the red and white one would not be appropriate at a funeral, or formal wedding or going in and out of church. Plus they were having a sale. I remember buying that umbrella and bringing it home. I haven’t seen it since.
  • I also have a blue and white umbrella. It’s easily 10 years old. You hit a button and it pops open, or it used to. Now it needs a little coaxing to open, and it’s broken so you have to hold it just right or you’ll get really wet. I use that one when I walk Beatrix in the rain, which isn’t. Miss B is a bit of a prima donna and she is not fond of rain.

Anyway, as I watched area residents trying to dodge raindrops Monday morning it got me to thinking of Easton Town Center in Columbus. The last time I was there it was raining. As is usually the case, I was ill-prepared for precipitation. however, nearly ever store in Easton has a stand by the door holding a bunch of umbrellas.

Shoppers are encouraged to grab one and use it to walk to their next shopping destination. Then then put it in the umbrella rack at that store. When they leave, they can grab another umbrella.

I’m sure the head honchos at Easton didn’t come up with this idea. But it’s a great marketing gimmick. Five years later, I’m writing about it. It’s not expensive, but it’s memorable, and very much appreciated.

Maybe we can do that in Galion. Downtown — or is it uptown — merchant’s can purchase a couple or three umbrellas and leave them by the front door. If a customer or client comes in during the rain, and they are headed somewhere else in the downtown area, just grab a community umbrella and drop it off at your next stop.

They don’t have to all be the same, as they are at Easton. But if someone designed a “Galion” umbrella, that would be kind of cool. And even if someone walked away with it, it’s something with the name Galion on it. That’s always good advertising. Just think of the Galion graders and other road machinery photos that show up on Facebook regularly.

Galion is trying like heck to get people to visit.

Area businesses and restaurants and galleries and shops are trying different tactics to show others the good things Galion has to offer. The one thing that’s constant in all tourist attractions? Customer service. An umbrella in a rain storm is great customer service.

Umbrellas aren’t expensive. And I’m 100 percent I’m not the only Galionite who rarely prepares for a thunderstorm.


Russ Kent

Galion Inquirer



Russ Kent is editor of the Galion Inquirer. Email him at [email protected] with comments or story ideas.