British Columbia

Donut drama at the PNE: Longtime vendor won't be returning this summer

Those looking to taste "Those Little Donuts" at this summer's PNE will have to look elsewhere after the Vancouver fair rejected the vendor's application.

Vendor disappointed to learn application was denied by Vancouver fair

Those Little Donuts will not return to the PNE this year after the company's application was rejected. (Those Little Donuts/Facebook)

If you were to ask a Vancouverite what treat the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) is known for, odds are they'll say mini-donuts.

The fluffy treats, dusted with sugar and cinnamon, are a PNE staple.

But this year, longtime mini-donut vendor Those Little Donuts will not be making an appearance.

The Calgary-based company, which has been serving up sweets at the PNE since 1976, says it received notice from the PNE late last week saying its application to participate in the fair this summer had been rejected. 

"It was really shocking," co-owner Nathan Maier said Monday in an interview with CBC's On The Coast.

He said the PNE told them they were denied because the fair offers similar products.

"We can't discuss the reasons a particular booth wasn't approved but can say we have a number of mini-donut vendors who will be on site at the fair," PNE spokesperson Laura Ballance said in a statement. 

According to a tweet, Ballance said the fair already has three independent mini-donut vendors, one of which she calls "the original mini-donut family."

Maeir and his father took over Those Little Donuts in 2012 and he says they have worked hard to keep the mini-donut tradition alive at the fair.

"These are the original machines, the original product, the original recipe," he said. 

"There may be other ones out there that are trying to compete with us … but we are the original." 

Customers buy mini-donuts at a drive-thru event at the PNE in Vancouver on May 22, 2020. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Maeir says that although they had success attending the Calgary Stampede earlier this summer, he's worried that missing the PNE could have a negative effect on his business.

"It's a huge impact on our business, especially going through two years of COVID … We have been set back so far by not being able to have mass gatherings or mass events," he said. 

Maier says he remains optimistic they'll be able to return next year.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brittany Roffel is a digital journalist with CBC Vancouver. Get in touch with her on Twitter at @BrittanyRoffel or at brittany.roffel@cbc.ca.

With files from On The Coast

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