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Fairs & festivals are serious business for food safety

Snohomish Health District ensures safe food prep and handling at fun events

SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. – Grilled turkey legs, pulled pork sliders, juicy wedges of fresh watermelon, elephant ears, cotton candy, teriyaki chicken, German sausages, pierogis stuffed with cheese—the menu at a county fair defies self-control and fuels you up for Ferris wheel rides, animal exhibits, and game concessions.


Getting sick from the food would sure ruin the fun.


Snohomish Health District helps you stay healthy by inspecting food vendors for safe and sanitary preparation of the food you eat. They check food temperatures, refrigeration, hand washing and food handling procedures, permits, and about 40 more items to be sure the vendor and staff maintain best practices for food safety.


“Our 10 environmental health specialists spend most of their summer weekends inspecting the food vendors at local events like AquaFest and the Stanwood-Camano Fair,” said food safety team leader Randy Durant. “If they find any critical food safety failure, it has to be corrected immediately. We are just as thorough at a temporary event as we are in a brick-and-mortar restaurant."

In addition to inspecting 3,000 permanent food establishments, the staff is busy inspecting  nearly 1,000 temporary food service vendors including those at 40-plus community events.

The Health District also provides training for food workers. Food handlers must pass a test to earn a state food worker card before they can work in food service.


“We do our part to keep people healthy,” said Durant, “but every individual has an important part, too – and that’s washing their hands.” Hand to mouth contact after touching animals, a bathroom visit, or changing a diaper, is a frequent source of the germs that make people sick. Always wash your hands with soap and water BEFORE eating.


The Health District supplies portable hand washing stations at some of the larger events, like the Evergreen State Fair, Aug. 22-Sept. 2.  Look for the large blue-and-white umbrellas that cover the stations near animal barns and dining areas. The Health District’s food safety team inspects daily at the Evergreen Fair.


Established in 1959, the Snohomish Health District works for a safer and healthier community through disease prevention, health promotion, and protection from environmental threats. Call 425.339.5260 to hear the food worker class schedule, or check out the online training option. Find more information about local public health programs and services at