Elephant ears are synonymous with carnivals, festivals and fairs. The fried, sugary confection, if prepared right, practically melts in your mouth.

There may not be a more sought after elephant ear in Eaton County than the homemade ears sold by Mary Stalhood, who for the past 40 years has served up the tasty treat at Mary’s Gourmet Ears at the Eaton County Fair. Always in the same location — a few hundred feet from the 4-H show rings — Mary’s Gourmet Ears have been a staple of the Eaton County Fair.

Sadly, Mary said this week that this year may have to be her last. 

“The Fair Board has been so good to me over the years,” Mary said. “I really like all of the other vendors. I hate to give it up.”

Mary, who travels to festivals and fairs throughout Michigan and northern Ohio, worked this summer with the youngest of her six grandchildren to work at Mary’s Gourmet Ears. Caiden Bauer, 19, completed his first year of college and is the last grandchild to spend a summer slinging elephant ears. 

Though she still loves serving her customers, Mary said the travel and long days have become too much.

“I started doing this after my youngest daughter graduated from high school, and I didn’t have anything to do,” Mary said. “I’ve really enjoyed it.”

There is still time to get one last Mary’s Gourmet Ear, as the stand will be open throughout the final day of the Eaton County Fair, Saturday, July 13.