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Increasing ingredient costs weigh on Muscatine County Fair vendors

Many vendors say they've had to increase their menu prices to keep up with increasing ingredient costs.

WEST LIBERTY, Iowa — The Muscatine County Fair is returning for its 2022 event, but many vendors are forced to adjust their operations this year as inflation increases ingredient prices. 

Owner of Jada's Concessions, Jada Smith, said she had to raise her menu prices to make up for the skyrocketing costs of ingredients. 

"We have upped our prices between $1 and $2, depending on the fair. If it's a smaller fair, then we try and stay at a lower price just so people will buy," said Smith. "At the bigger fairs, we have to raise it just because of, you know, we have so much chicken and funnel cake mix and corndogs and stuff like that. So our prices kind of go up and down. But I raised them between $1 and $2."

Just last year, Smith paid just $40 for frying oil. Before the pandemic, she paid roughly $25.

"We try and find it from other companies. I found it as high as $112 this year."

Owner of Lugo's Gourmet Popcorn Lemonade stand, Ruben Lugo said he's been hit with price increases on nearly all his ingredients.

"The biggest surprise is probably the ice, the price of the ice. Not only did the price go up, but also the bag size went down," said Lugo. 

But finding reasonably priced ice is only one of his struggles.

"We're doing our best to put out a nice good quality product for the consumer here at the Muscatine county fair. You know, everything's going up: sugar, lemons, strawberries all of what we do, cups and things like that -- they are hard to get a hold of with the shortage of supply," said Lugo.

The Muscatine County Fair lasts from Wednesday, July 20 to Sunday, July 24.

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