More than 2.2 million people attended this year's State Fair of Texas and as construction crews broke down displays on the fairgrounds, fair food vendors lined up to donate their excess products.
"This is my happiest day at the State Fair of Texas," said Christi Erpillo with Fernie's Funnel Cakes.
Erpillo said Fernie's Funnel Cakes started donating its extra fair food 15 years ago. Since then, the effort has grown to include more vendors in what is now called the State Fair Cares Food Drive.
"We created an environment where they can come drop things off as they're cleaning up the morning after the fair," State Fair of Texas Senior Vice President of Public Relations Karissa Condoianis said. "We have organizations drive through right after it's dropped off, so it's fresh."
This year, seven community organizations in the Fair Park neighborhood were the beneficiaries. Many of them have increased needs since the start of the pandemic.
"We're not only feeding the homeless," Rev. Andra Johnson of Cornerstone Baptist Church of Dallas said. "We're also feeding families and different individuals that lost income during this time, lost jobs."
Some of the donated items included pasta and marinara sauce, sugar, bread and produce.
"We feed people 24 days out of the year for a profit, for money as a business, but now we're doing it out of the goodness of our hearts and just trying to help them out," Erpillo said. "And we're seeing, like, tangible results of what we can do when we all band together to help the people in Dallas."