Eat cute: Cotton candy animals join food lineup at the fair

Sweet Art Cotton Candy is one of 78 food booths at the Evergreen State Fair, which begins Thursday.

Find Sweet Art Cotton Candy’s animals in the food court at the Evergreen State Fair. (Sweet Art Cotton Candy)

Find Sweet Art Cotton Candy’s animals in the food court at the Evergreen State Fair. (Sweet Art Cotton Candy)

It has a round head, two round ears, two eyes and a cartoonish smile.

It’s a cotton candy animal — just as delicious as its traditional counterpart, but also cute.

Look for Sweet Art Cotton Candy, owned by Seattle resident Mimi Jackson, at the Evergreen State Fair, today through Sept. 3. She’ll be spinning sugar into bears, ducks and rabbits with her husband at the west end of the food court in booth 338.

Flavors include pink vanilla, blue raspberry, banana, strawberry and marshmallow.

Jackson started Sweet Art Cotton Candy in May. She’s already gained some momentum selling the cute, edible animals at regional fairs and festivals this summer, including the Vashon Island Strawberry Festival, Rhubarb Pie Festival in Sumner and Alki Art Fair in Seattle.

They’re a hit among kids.

“They love it,” Jackson, 38, said. “It’s so much fun. Obviously cotton candy is a fun thing anyway, but their eyes light up.”

The business is just a passion project for now, but Jackson hopes to make Sweet Art Cotton Candy a year-round venture.

The irony is that Jackson has a career as natural health practitioner. But, she believes in the 80-20 rule — make 80 percent of your diet healthy, then eat whatever you want the rest of the time.

Life is short,” Jackson said. “There are pieces of it that we have to enjoy.”

Jackson was traveling in Asia when she saw cotton candy animals being made. She was immeditately inspired.

“I thought it was really cool,” Jackson said. “I personally love crafting, and sugar is my first love.”

The Bacon booth, offering various ways to enjoy America’s favorite breakfast meat, will be among 78 food vendors at the Evergreen State Fair, which runs through Sept. 3. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

The Bacon booth, offering various ways to enjoy America’s favorite breakfast meat, will be among 78 food vendors at the Evergreen State Fair, which runs through Sept. 3. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

She practiced for hours on end in her garage before she felt comfortable. Jackson said the trick is controlling the sugar as it starts to flair out from the cotton candy machine.

“We’re able to guide it and shape it the way we want,” Jackson said. “Once they come alive, they’re pretty happy.”

Jackson attaches stickers for the nose and mouth, and black dots for the eyes. They’re easy to remove.

“We’re in the process of making them edible,” Jackson said. “It’s been a little bit challenging getting exactly what we’re looking for.”

Sweet Art Cotton Candy is a new addition to the fair, joining 78 booths, eight of which are new, in the food court of the Evergreen State Fair food court, selling everything from strawberry shortcake to fried chicken skin — not to mention the fair classic: scones.

Brielle Dodge, spokeswoman for the Evergreen State Fair, recommends checking out Sultan’s 2½ Men BBQ.

“My personal favorite is the pulled pork mac and cheese,” she said.

For the first time ever, fairgoers also will be able to enjoy beer and wine gardens, which flank the grandstand.

Two beer gardens, operated by Evergreen Speedway owners Traci and Doug Hobbs, will offer craft and domestic beers and wine for $7 or $8. They will be open every day from noon to 9 p.m., except for Labor Day, when it will close at 5 p.m.

Those with VIP tickets to the concert series, featuring five days of live music, can return to their seats with beer and wine.

Fairground management and Snohomish County Parks and Recreation Department officials decided to offer libations after researching state and county fairs across the country.

“We wanted to explore what it looked like while still keeping it family-friendly,” fair spokeswoman Shannon Hays said. “I think it will add to the enjoyment of the fair. As long as people drink responsibly — which we have no doubt they will — we’ll be able to offer it for our concerts.”

Evan Thompson: 360-544-2999, ethompson@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @evanthompson_1.

If you go

What: Evergreen State Fair food court

Where: Evergreen State Fairgrounds, 14405 179th Ave. SE, Monroe.

When: Aug. 23 to Sept. 3

More: www.evergreenfair.org

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