Tennessee Valley Fair food vendors feel the pain of inflation

Mamma Jane and her famous funnel cakes are costing her more to make.
Published: Sep. 13, 2022 at 7:58 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Food vendors at the annual Tennessee Valley Fair at Chilhowee Park & Exposition Center are dealing with rising food costs due to inflation.

Courtney Norris, a veterinarian at Zoo Knoxville, visits the fair almost daily during her lunch break and noticed the increase in the price of food.

“We have noticed maybe a couple of places have been maybe more expensive than they have been in the past,” Norris said.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) report released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that food prices have risen 11.4 percent in the United States from Aug. 2021 to Aug. 2022.

The year-to-year increase in the price of food is now the highest in 43 years, according to the CPI.

Two guests at the Tennessee Valley Fair walk by Mamma Jane's funnel cake trailer on Tuesday.
Two guests at the Tennessee Valley Fair walk by Mamma Jane's funnel cake trailer on Tuesday.(Richard Mason)

However, inflation is an ingredient The Funnel Cake Trailer Manager Jane Harris hopes you won’t notice.

Customers refer to Harris as Mamma Jane. She said she looks for deals whenever possible to keep her prices low and not pass that off to customers.

“We’re trying to do a nice compromise where they don’t take the full hit for it because we don’t think it’s fair. You know it’s happened. We can’t control that but we can at least control how much we go up on our food,” Harris says.

Harris hopes prices will get back down to pre-pandemic levels sooner rather than later.

However, customers like Norris are very supportive of Mamma Jane and other vendors who are just trying to stay in business during tough times.

“I say we are all thankful to them for trying to keep prices as low as they possibly can, while also giving us good ingredients and worthy food to eat while we’re here,” Norris said.

Mamma Jane speaks with customers at the Tennessee Valley Fair on Tuesday.
Mamma Jane speaks with customers at the Tennessee Valley Fair on Tuesday.(Richard Mason)