WASILLA — Longtime Alaska State Fair vendor The Original Gourmet Ice Cream Bars, Inc. is one of several vendors looking for creative ways to make up for the loss of the two-week 2020 Alaska State Fair.
Gourmet Ice Cream Bars will be one of several vendors typically at the state fair each year setting up at the upcoming Mat-Su Fall Festival at the Alaska Raceway Park.
Janelle Griffith has been selling ice cream near Brew Ha Ha in downtown Palmer as one of several ways to cover losses from the fair cancellation.
“The reality is we’ll be doing about half of what we’re normally doing,” Griffith said. “The state fair vendors are feeling it.”
Griffith said that people can visit her at the stand Wednesday through Saturday from 12 to 6:30 p.m. She also plans to participate in the Friday Fling for the remainder of its run.
“I will say that we’ll be okay. I can’t speak for other fair vendors,” Griffith said.
Griffith is taking over the iconic stand from Patricia “Pat” Perry who’s currently working on her buyout plan for retirement.
She said that Perry established the ice cream stand in 1983 and became a returning vendor at the fair in 1985. She said that Perry set out to provide only the best selections of ice cream, putting the Gourmet into Gourmet Ice Cream Bars.
Griffith said they’ve kept a small but selective menu over the years, specializing in high-quality ice cream that’s shipped in from the Lower 48. There have been some expansions over the years, including chocolate-covered bacon, frozen dipped bananas, and dairy-free sherbet bars. She said they even handcrush their own Oreos for toppings.
“Our topping, unbeatable,” Griffith said.
Griffith said Perry’s exit may extend another year due to COVID-19, but she’s confident whatever she does, it will be efficient.
She said that Perry has employed over 400 youth since she started her business, and she brings on about 30 to 50 new employees a year.
“She’s not only a brilliant business mind, she tracks everything,” Griffith said.
Griffith started working for Perry over 21 years ago. What started as a summer job became a fun-filled, independent career she’s helped build her life with.
“It just fit,” Griffith said.
Griffith is spearheading the next era of Gourmet Ice Cream, which has made a name for itself across the state. Perry and Griffith have set up at numerous locations and events all the way from Forest Fair to Fairbanks.
“It just grows every year,” Griffith said. “We just hope people are able to see that same success we’ve had over the years.”
Griffith was born and raised in Palmer. She said that she loves traveling the state with her two boys. She said her favorite part of being a vendor at so many places is getting to meet all the people, noting the experience has been helpful in her kids’ development.
“We’re gonna get creative this winter… We’ll see what happens,” Griffin said.
Griffith said that she was thankful for all the support they’ve had from the public since the outbreak started affecting Alaska.
“We are incredibly thankful and humbled by the community,” Griffith said.
The Mat-Su Fall Festival takes place on the weekend of Aug. 28 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. all three days.
“This is a great opportunity for Alaskans to meet, greet, and to get great stuff from their favorite vendors, to dine from Alaska’s fantastic gourmet food trucks, and to listen to some of the best local music talent that Alaska has to offer,” stated on the event page.
For more information about the Mat-Su Fall Festival, visit matsufallfest.com
Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at firstname.lastname@example.org