OCA Beef Tent: Tulsa State Fair Tradition Since 1993Wed, 21 Oct 2015 16:45:06 CDT
If you have been to the Tulsa State Fair, you've likely stopped by the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association beef tent for a ribeye sandwich. It's an annual tradition that dates back to 1993. Ester Miller remembers how the whole thing got started on the midway.
"The first trailer space, some people had a hamburger thing and they retired and we were able to get their space," Miller said.
That first year, they built their own trailer. Bonnie Mullendore remembers that first year of the old cook shack.
"We had an old trailer, it was a serving trailer," Mullendore said. "And, we would be selling hamburgers right along with the ribeyes, course you'd have all the lettuce and tomatoes and stuff, you know. You just had walking room to get through and whenever someone had to go outside, well we all had to move out, so they could get out."
Through the years, they've tried serving other things, like burritos, kabobs,and even tacos, but nothing sold as well as their tried and true ribeye sandwich, where they always serve it "hot off the grill". They have even changed locations. In 2005, OCA moved the beef tent near the cattle arena and while the location changed, avid beef eaters tracked it down.
"People would come and say, I've been looking for you guys all over you know, but when you smell them cooking, we just came right to it," Mullendore said.
Loyal customers will often share how this is the favorite place to eat and their first stop at the Tulsa State Fair, but for Miller it's always easy to spot a new comer to the beef tent.
"When people walk up to the window, you can tell by the looks on their faces if they have had a ribeye sandwich before, because they know what they're coming for and they want it," Miller said.
And boy, do Oklahomans love their beef. OCA's Jeff Jaronek said it's impressive what Oklahoma ranchers do to keep with demand.
"We go through about 9,500 pounds of beef and that equates to about 420 cows that it takes to get that many pounds of ribeyes," Jaronek said. "So, we go through that in 11 days of the fair."
Since 1993, OCA has sold about 280,000 ribeye steak sandwiches. This year OCA sold 19,225 steak sandwiches at the Tulsa State Fair.
Radio Oklahoma Network's Leslie Smith caught up with the OCA Beef Tent crew at the Tulsa State Fair. Click or Tap on the LISTENBAR below to listen to this special feature.
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