Elephant ears have been a staple at the Latah County Fair for years.
While likely not doctor-recommended, the cinnamon sugar, deep-fried dough treats served up by Troy FFA members are taste bud-approved.
Halee Bohman, a Troy High School sophomore and FFA member, said people have told her they waited in line for three and a half hours to get their hands on an elephant ear.
She said the busiest times are typically Friday and Saturday nights and midday Saturday, when the line will loop around the back of the barn.
“It’s just a fun fair treat I think,” said Sam Hoffman, Troy FFA adviser and agriscience and technology teacher at the high school. “It’s pretty unique. ... It’s got a reputation as well, like people want to come to the fair to get an elephant ear, so we try to keep that going.”
Hoffman said the agriscience and technology teacher before him purchased the elephant ears trailer in 2011. The FFA chapter first purchased an elephant ear booth in the early 1990s, he said.
“This is like the really new and improved elephant ear booth,” Hoffman said. “It’s pretty state-of-the-art custom built for our chapter.”
The roughly 18-inch diameter sugary treat is the only item on the menu besides a couple of beverage options to wash it down.
“We try not to mess with too much of a good thing,” Hoffman said.
He said the FFA members mix the dough in the booth, roll it out and toss it like pizza before they put it in the fryer and then on the cinnamon sugar rack.
“It’s quite the process,” Hoffman said. “You need about eight or nine kids to really make it run really good.”
Bohman, who has sold elephant ears since the seventh grade, said she typically sticks to rolling and flipping the dough inside the trailer. She said the treats need to be large enough to satisfy customers but small enough to put several in the fryer at once.
“I really enjoy it for the main reasons that you have that sense of leadership among your peers, but you still get to work together for one common goal, and that’s just satisfying people at the fair,” Bohman said.
Hoffman said almost all of the roughly 60 FFA members will sell elephant ears throughout the four-day fair.
Parents and other former FFA members help out too. He said Troy FFA alumni take the trailer down to the Lewiston Roundup every year to sell the treats.
Fair attendees Kyle and Sam Martin tried the ears for the first time Friday afternoon.
“My dad used to make them all the time growing up, so I was like, ‘We have to get one when we’re here,’ and they’re really good,” Sam Martin said after munching her first bite.
Kyle Martin said he also enjoyed it, and for its massive size, $5 is a good deal.
Hoffman said the elephant ear sales, which benefit Troy FFA, go a long way in funding travel costs and other FFA expenses. He said members travel across the state and the country.
Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to email@example.com.