Bring the delicious food of America’s state fairs home with these recipes
Give us your fried, your hungry, your huddled masses yearning for the perfect deep-fried pickles.
Nothing says “definitive American summer” like the good old-fashioned state fair. Every year it seems that state fairs come up with wackier fair treats (Texas, we’re looking at you), proving that pretty much anything can be fried or served on a stick. Some of the stranger state fair snacks include deep-fried bubblegum in Texas, fried Girl Scout cookies in North Carolina, and, of course, deep-fried butter at multiple Southern state fairs.
9 Classic State Fair Foods You Can Make at Home (Slideshow)
Crazy state fair foods aside, sometimes you just want to stick with the classic carnival foodstuffs, like fried Oreos or caramel apples. The Daily Meal has rounded up recipes for nine of the most iconic foods that you’ll spy at just about any state fair across the country. That way, you can bring the best fair fare home and chow down without having to worry about making yourself sick from the lethal combination of unhealthy food and spinning teacup rides.
From the fried and sweet to the classic Southern treats, these recipes will allow you to enjoy the best parts of the state fair long after the cows have gone home and the fryer has been turned off.
What would a fair be without caramel apples? Also popular at Halloween, these sweet treats are the stuff dentists' nightmares are made of. Even so, they’re not too hard to make if you have the right ingredients. Remember to always start out with Granny Smith apples, and check out our caramel apple guide here.
Corn dogs are the quintessential edible element to most American summer outings. You can find them at street fairs, on the boardwalk, and, of course, at your local state fair. Sure, you could go for the classic corn-battered frankfurter, but why not kick it up a notch with our recipes for bratwurst beer-battered corn dogs? Or, get tiny with these mini corn dogs.
29 Incredibly Popular Carnival Food Recipes to Try This Summer
Both kids and adults enjoy attending carnivals, festivals, state fairs, Winter celebrations, and street fairs.
If you’re like me, you consider chowing down on some delicious snack food while listening to some good music to be one of the joys of life.
With that in mind, we have compiled an extensive list of the most popular carnival foods!
Whether it’s hotdogs, candied almonds, donuts, or cotton candy, all of these items can be made at home regardless of the time of year! We think there is something here for everyone. Let’s dive in!
15 Deliciously Intense State Fair Food Recipes
These homemade recipes for classic state fair foods are sure to satisfy any unexpected cravings.
State fair season is here! But if you can't make it to the fairgrounds, these homemade recipes for classic state fair foods are sure to satisfy any unexpected cravings.
With only three ingredients, this extra-indulgent treat couldn't be easier to make.
Add some pep to your grilled corn on the cob with ground chipotle, lime, and manchego cheese.
The only thing that could make thick-cut, maple-glazed bacon better? Drizzling it in chocolate.
These mini versions of the classic state fair treats make the perfect&mdashand easiest!&mdashkid-friendly Halloween party desserts.
How do these state-fair-worthy shots work? Just dunk bite-sized pieces of angel food cake in tequila, fry to a golden brown, and dust with powdered sugar. Don't like tequila? This recipe works with virtually any liquid, including cola and apple cider.
Carnival Treats You Can Make at Home
Bring the carnival home with these state fair-inspired recipes. From sweet treats to deep-fried delights, they're sure to make you smile — no ferris wheel required.
Photo By: Matt Armedariz ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.
Photo By: Tara Donne ©FOOD NETWORK : 2012, Television Food Network, G.P.
Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved
Crispy, golden and slightly sweet, corndogs are an iconic carnival dish. Trisha serves hers with both ketchup and mustard sauces for dipping.
Homemade Funnel Cakes
Bring the carnival home with this classic fair dessert. Fried dough is crisp and golden brown on the outside and soft and cakey on the inside. Covered in a shower of confectioners' sugar and sprinkle of cinnamon, it's the perfect fun dessert for a casual get-together.
Barbecued Turkey Legs
These massive barbecued bird legs are a street fair staple. Now you can make them at home with an easy dry brine that eliminates the need for submerging them in a big pot of salted water.
Cotton Candy Lemonade Slushies
Consider these slushies the ultimate two-in-one treat: frozen lemonade concentrate gets blended with cotton candy to make a bright pink beverage that screams of carnival fun.
Fried Apple Hand Pies
Hand-held apple pies in a flaky, deep-fried crust? Yes, please! You can even make these pies ahead (and stock them in your freezer for up to 6 months) so that the only thing you have to do when you're craving a carnival-inpsired sweet, is fry them.
Spiced Kettle Corn
Melissa's sweet-salty kettle corn is a crowd-pleasing 10-minute treat.
These gooey deep-fried treats are the perfect excuse to buy another box of Tagalongs® at the next Girl Scout cookie sale. The chocolate-covered peanut butter cookies are dipped in a sweet batter that gets an extra peanutty boost from powdered PB. They're fried until golden and served with a dusting of powdered sugar and chocolate sauce for dipping.
Fried Cheesy Pickles
For a Southern-style snack, wrap pickle spears in cheese and egg roll wrappers and fry until golden.
Mexican Grilled Corn
Tyler adds tons of flavor to in-season grilled corn on the cob by making it Mexican-style with cheese and chili powder.
Deep-Fried Cheesecake Bites
As Ree says, this recipe &ldquois absolutely ridiculous in a really delicious way.&rdquo And really, isn&rsquot that what carnival food is all about?
Sausage, Peppers and Onions
Giada says these street-style sandwiches are a staple in Italy, but we've been known to see them around the fair. She starts by browning sweet Italian turkey sausage, then simmers the meat and veggies in tomato paste and marsala wine for added depth of flavor.
Fried Ice Cream with Cereal Crust
Hot and crunchy on the outside, cold and creamy on the inside &mdash these cereal-crusted ice cream balls are the perfect project for someone with a sweet tooth. Choose one of our fun combinations &mdash or create your own!
A deep, rich caramel makes for a classic shiny caramel apple.
Double-Fried French Fries
If you&rsquore looking for a classic French fry, Guy&rsquos recipe can&rsquot be beat. He fries potato slices twice to ensure a crispy finish and perfect consistency.
Frozen Banana Ice Cream Sandwiches
Giada coats the tops of her cookies with chocolate-toffee candy bars before assembling these decadent ice cream sandwiches.
Fried Elvis Banana on a Stick
Elvis goes to the county fair, when his favorite flavor combination is deep-fried and served on a stick.
Soft Pizza Pretzels
Who doesn&rsquot love a pillowy pretzel? For a fun spin on the classic recipe, season the pretzels with Parmesan, garlic and Italian herbs and serve with marinara for dunking.
Mini Chicken and Waffles
Chicken and waffles are a match made in heaven &mdash so why not chicken and waffle fries? To make this easy app, bake chicken nuggets and waffle fries as the labels direct. Top each waffle fry with a nugget, skewer with a toothpick and drizzle with spicy honey.
Giada coats mozzarella in Italian-style dried breadcrumbs and freshly grated Parmesan cheese before frying. These cheesy sticks can be made and frozen before cooking up to two days in advance.
Funnel Cake Ice Cream Sandwiches
Vanilla cake mix makes up the batter for Trisha&rsquos funnel cakes, which sandwich a big scoop of sweet vanilla ice cream.
Idaho-Style Finger Steaks
These golden and crispy deep-fried steak strips are what happens when chicken-fried steak meets chicken fingers. We like them dipped in a homemade "fry sauce" or bottled cocktail sauce, but ranch dressing would be great too.
50 States of Fair Food
Fair food’s deep-fried reputation has gotten a makeover, thanks to food line-ups that highlight pride-of-state agriculture, regional foodways and local vendors. Fairgoers can sip California wine slushies in a wine garden, order a Nebraska beef Reuben burger from a chuck wagon or savor Vermont maple syrup soft serve in a sugar house. The fried goodies are here too, but even deep-fried fair classics like funnel cake, burgers and candy get the local treatment. Step right up to fair bites worthy of the blue ribbon.
Photo By: Kristin Hagy of Kristin S
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Florida: Strawberry Lemonade Sweetcake Sundae
Whimsical food creations are as common at fairs as oversized stuffed animals, but the Florida State Fair features a real showstopper from DeAnna&rsquos Food. Owners Ryan and Shawna Hagy, aka the Sundae Squad, put their food truck on the culinary map with their inventive savory creations served in sundae cups. But at the Florida State Fair, they switch it up with the Strawberry Lemonade Sweetcake Sundae inspired by Florida&rsquos peak strawberry season that coincides with the fair&rsquos February calendar date. Each one starts with a homemade sweetcake that hits the pastry trifecta: it&rsquos made from a biscuit-style dough, fried like a doughnut but eats like a flaky croissant. The Hagys coat fried sweetcake pieces in cinnamon sugar and drizzle them with lemonade buttercream, then pile on fresh Florida strawberry slices and homemade whipped cream. Lemon zest and a squirt of lemon juice add a bright finish.
Ohio: Deep-Fried Buckeyes
Ohio&rsquos Buckeye State nickname is inspired by the state tree: the buckeye. The tree produces buckeye nuts, and though they&rsquore inedible, they&rsquove inspired a namesake treat that&rsquos made in chocolate shops and home kitchens statewide. To mimic the appearance of a buckeye nut, the confection&rsquos peanut butter center is partially dipped in chocolate. And at the Ohio State Fair, this iconic treat gets the deep-fried treatment, thanks to the Bulk Candy Store. The buckeyes are battered, deep-fried, then drizzled with chocolate and sprinkled with powdered sugar. It has become such a popular treat that the vendor travels to other state fairs to spread the buckeye love.
New Mexico: Green Chile Navajo Taco
The smoky scent of bonfires may mark the arrival of fall in other states, but in New Mexico, it&rsquos the smell of roasting green chiles that heralds the change of season. Mounds of the freshly-roasted peppers beckon from roadside stands and grocery store parking lots, and they also get plenty of play at the New Mexico State Fair held in Albuquerque every September. For the quintessential New Mexico bite, opt for Navajo tacos topped with roasted, peeled and chopped green chiles. Made of Navajo fry bread, a fried round of dough that&rsquos pillowy-soft inside and golden-crisp outside, the tacos come topped with seasoned ground beef, pinto beans, cheese, lettuce, onions, tomato and plenty of the spicy peppers. Look for Navajo fry bread and tacos in the Indian Village at vendors like Zina&rsquos Blue Corn Café, Navajo Café, Native Café and Harvest Café.
Texas: Injectable Great Balls of BBQ
The "everything is bigger in Texas" motto rings true at the Lone Star State&rsquos fair. Held for 24 consecutive days, the State Fair of Texas draws more than two million people annually and features a mascot known as Big Tex, a 55-foot talking cowboy who dons a 95-gallon cowboy hat and size 96 cowboy boots. The fair is also known for its outsize creativity, particularly showcased during the Big Tex Choice Awards food competition, which features such over-the-top treats as Injectable Great Balls of BBQ (a 2016 finalist). To make them, smoked-then-shredded beef brisket is mixed with bock barbecue sauce laced with a German-style lager. Once thoroughly drenched, the brisket is rolled in seasoned bread crumbs and deep-fried until golden, then served on a bed of coleslaw. The kicker? Each order comes with its own pipette of bock BBQ sauce to inject another blast of barbecue flavor.
For a sweet taste of Washington tradition, look no further than the Washington State Fair. Commonly known as the Puyallup Fair after its namesake town, it is one of the largest state fairs in the country. But more importantly for food-minded attendees, it also happens to have scones on lock. Fisher Scones have been a fair staple for more than 100 years, with more than one million sold annually over the course of the 20-day festivities. Served hot from the oven, each scone comes slathered with whipped sweet honey butter spread and raspberry jam.
Nevada: Basque Fries
Gardnerville is home to the Basque Fry, an annual festival that honors Nevada&rsquos Basque heritage, concentrated in the northern part of the state. For a classic taste of Basque country, head to Liberty Food & Wine Exchange&rsquos booth for a serving of Basque fries, also known as lamb testicles. The meat is thinly sliced and tenderized with a mallet, marinated in milk overnight, battered and dredged in lightly seasoned bread crumbs, then fried until golden. No ordinary ketchup will do for this delicacy. Instead, each order is accompanied by a Basque ketchup seasoned with smoked paprika and piment d'espelette. This classic dish not only nods to Basque tradition, it also reflects the whole animal philosophy of Mark Estee, chef and owner of Liberty Food. He puts it into practice at his brick-and-mortar spot in downtown Reno, which offers festival-ready Basque chorizo as part of its in-house charcuterie program.
Wisconsin: Original Cream Puffs
Food has become its own attraction at the Wisconsin State Fair, which draws more than one million attendees to West Allis every August. There are more than 200 food and drink vendors to choose from, but for a taste of Wisconsin&rsquos best-known agricultural export, focus on dairy-inspired dishes like deep-fried cheese curds, grilled cheese sandwiches and buttery corn on the cob. An absolute must, though, is the Original Cream Puff. Created in 1924 by the Wisconsin Bakers Association to highlight the state&rsquos wheat and dairy industries, the treat remains the longest continuously offered food item at the fair. Stop by the Original Cream Puff Pavilion to snag this pillowy pastry, which features a sweet, whipped cream center sandwiched between two pate a choux shells dusted with powdered sugar. The staff literally works 24/7 for two weeks to keep up with demand, dishing out 350,000-400,000 cream puffs annually.
South Carolina: Shrimp n Grits Sundae
Ryan Hagy, owner of DeAnna&rsquos Food, was inspired to create his food truck&rsquos signature dish so that he could enjoy two of his favorite offerings on the go. He loaded French fries and grilled sirloin steak into a sundae cup and a fair favorite was born &mdash the dish has even been featured on Cooking Channel&rsquos Carnival Eats. Hagy has given other classic meals this same treatment, even tackling that iconic Southern staple: shrimp and grits. Find his Shrimp n Grits Sundae at the South Carolina State Fair and the Coastal Carolina Fair. Hagy starts with local stone ground grits, which he soaks before cooking to ensure a creamy texture. He simmers them with crumbled bacon, cheddar, Gouda and cream cheese, then piles them in a sundae cup along with marinated white shrimp. As for the shrimp, Hagy sautees them with Cajun seasoning until the marinade reduces into a sauce. Order like a pro and ask for extra Cajun sauce, then add optional "sundae toppings" like garlic-butter mushrooms and grilled onions and peppers.
Arizona: Fry Bread
The Sunset State spares fairgoers from soaring summer temperatures by holding the Arizona State Fair in October, but you&rsquoll still find plenty of sizzle at the food stands in the form of fry bread (aka Navajo bread). Typified by a texture that&rsquos somewhere between a doughnut and a tortilla, this iconic treat features a simple dough made of flour and water. It&rsquos fried in hot oil, then festooned with sweet toppings like powdered sugar and honey or a sundae-inspired medley of strawberries, ice cream and whipped cream. Fry bread can also go savory with taco-inspired fillings, in which case it&rsquos known as a Navajo taco. Score classic and creative renditions of both preparations at the following stands: B&J Kokopeli, J&L Teepee Village, Maile & Son Indian Frybread, Navajo Taco Stand and MAE Indian Frybread.
Maine: Blueberry Crepe
The small town of Fryeburg put itself on the festival map back in 1851 when it started hosting the Fryeburg Fair. It&rsquos a long-standing tradition for many Maine natives, including vendor Melanie Roy, who started her Crepe Bar business after years of attending the event as a regular fairgoer. She goes all out by stuffing her homemade crepes with gourmet fillings, such as spiced Maine blueberry compote and signature vanilla bean whipped cream. Get a taste of both with the Maine Blueberry Crepe, which also features fresh blueberries. Craving a classic? Stick with the Date Night Crepe, which brings together the traditional combination of Nutella, strawberries and whipped cream (albeit Roy&rsquos vanilla bean version). While you wait for your order, grab a piece of chalk and add your artwork to the truck&rsquos handwritten chalkboard menu.
California: Wine Slushie
For more than 160 years, the California State Fair has highlighted the state&rsquos deep agricultural roots &mdash there&rsquos even a three-and-a-half acre working farm where attendees can visit stations and talk to farmers to learn about seasonal produce and earn a piece of farm-fresh fruit. For farm-to-glass refreshment, head to the Save Mart Wine Garden to sip on winning state wines from the California State Commercial Wine Competition. Anyone is welcome to enter the garden (though you must be 21 to consume) and it&rsquos a particularly popular spot for its shade and cooling misters. The real refreshment, though, comes in the form of wine slushies, including WiLD Vines&rsquo blackberry or strawberry and Madria Sangria Moscato, an icy white sangria with peach and apple notes.
Missouri: Black Walnut-Topped Salad
The Missouri State Fair prides itself on its deep agricultural roots and its commitment to Missouri-grown products. While all vendors are encouraged to source locally, perhaps no booth does it better than the AgriMissouri Bistro, a sit-down restaurant that serves farm-to-table breakfasts and lunches created in partnership with a local culinary school. Ingredients from more than 30 Missouri farmers and ranchers are transformed into fresh meals that go well beyond basic fair food. Case in point: the build-your-own Bistro salad gets a touch of bold, earthy flavor (and hearty crunch) from the American Black Walnut, which is the official tree nut of the state. Additional toppings for this popular salad include pulled pork, goat cheese and fresh blackberries. Fairgoers can also stock up on locally-made staples like jam, barbecue sauce, beef sticks and cheese from the adjacent AgriMissouri Market.
Vermont: Maple Creamee
With Vermont being the country&rsquos largest producer of maple syrup, you can bet this sweet staple gets plenty of play at the state fair held in Rutland. In fact, the Vermont State Fair is home to the world&rsquos largest working sugar house on any fairgrounds. It&rsquos operated by the Rutland County Maple Producers, who turn out maple confections like maple peanut brittle, maple cotton candy and maple cream-glazed donuts. You can even get your licks of it in a frozen treat that also showcases the state&rsquos top-notch dairy. The Maple Creamee is a vanilla-based soft serve blended with dark-grade, pure Vermont maple syrup. It seems like a simple combination, but many hours of recipe testing went into ensuring that the syrup&rsquos robust maple flavor just overtakes the vanilla. Want to keep the maple magic going? Buy a bottle of syrup to take home a portion of the proceeds are donated to the Foley Cancer Center.
Springfield, Illinois, may well be the original source of a beloved fair staple: the corn dog on a stick. The Cozy Dog Drive-In claims to have served the first one in 1946, thus setting the trend in motion. It&rsquos fitting, then, that Springfield is also home to the Illinois State Fair where long-time vendor Vose&rsquos Korndogs serves its take on the classic. The stand has been owned by the same family for more than 50 years, with three generations learning the secret to frying up a perfectly crisp corn dog. It all starts with making sure the hot dog is completely dry before dipping it in the signature batter. Once coated, the dog is fried for exactly three minutes to ensure just the right amount of crunch. Fairgoers aren&rsquot the only ones who can&rsquot get enough of this coveted treat &mdash performers including Montgomery Gentry and Willie Nelson have requested Vose&rsquos Korndogs by name.
Massachusetts: Pumpkin Whoopie Pie
Every fall, the Topsfield Fair hosts the All New England Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off, boasting winners that have weighed in at 2,000 pounds or more. Prefer a taste of fall tucked into a smaller package? Head to the cleverly named Whoopie Wagon, where local bakery Topsfield Bakeshop turns out a pumpkin-inspired treat so popular that it sells out daily. This pumpkin whoopie pie features a cream cheese-and-vanilla buttercream filling sandwiched by two pumpkin spiced cake rounds generously dusted with powdered sugar.
Idaho: Idaho Ice Cream Potato
With Idaho being one of the top-producing dairy states, ice cream is a no-brainer at summer fairs. But one booth at the Western Idaho Fair in Boise goes all out with a frozen treat inspired by the official state vegetable. The Idaho Ice Cream Potato is a sundae cleverly disguised as a baked potato: vanilla ice cream stands in for the potato, cocoa powder dusted on the outside mimics potato skin and a mound of whipped cream calls to mind sour cream. The ice cream potato comes perched on a slick of chocolate syrup and festooned with nuts and crushed Oreos, not to mention more chocolate sauce. Though it&rsquos a longstanding fair tradition, the dish took home top honors at The Fair Food Showdown in 2017 for Best Sugar Rush and Best Crowd Pleaser. In addition to its annual appearance at the fair, this ice cream potato is available year-round at Westside Drive In.
New Hampshire: Lobster Roll
Reel in a restaurant-worthy taste of classic New England coastal cuisine at the Seacoast Extreme Country Fair, where Coast2Coast Caterers serves an impeccable lobster roll from Chef Dan Crook. The Maine native sticks close to tradition by tossing claw, tail and knuckle lobster meat with aioli, finely diced celery, parsley, lemon zest and lemon juice, then piling it all on a buttered, toasted hot dog bun. For a twist on the classic, ask to have your lobster meat tossed with Crook&rsquos Asian-inspired sauce made with lemon grass, makrut lime, chili and fish sauce. Complete the New England experience by adding on a cup of Crook&rsquos clam chowder featuring a creamy base festooned with Maine steamer clams, fresh thyme and dill, house-smoked slab bacon and a squirt of Tabasco sauce.
Indiana: Roasted Corn on the Cob
Located in the heart of the Corn Belt, Indiana produces nearly one billion bushels of corn annually, so it&rsquos not surprising that corn on the cob is a common sight at the Indiana State Fair. Saying these ears are farm-fresh is no exaggeration, since most of the sweet corn served &mdash to the tune of 100,000 ears &mdash comes from a local farm that picks and delivers to the fair daily. Many of the vendors roast the corn in its husk to keep the kernels tender, then shuck the ears and dip them in butter while they&rsquore still hot fairgoers can customize them with garlic salt, lemon pepper, hot sauce, mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese and more. Find these golden cobs at booths operated by Carousel Foods Inc., Indianapolis Washington Township Lions Club, J. Wilson Group LLC and Wagner Food Service, among others.
Hawaii: Panko-Crusted Ahi Tuna Plate Lunch
The Hawaii State Farm Fair holds its annual festivities at Kualoa Ranch, an idyllic farm setting in Oahu&rsquos Jurassic Valley that underscores the importance of agriculture in the Aloha State. The fair is also known for celebrating Hawaiian culture through its hyper-local food line-up &mdash even burgers and chili are made with Kualoa Ranch beef. Land and sea are represented in equal measure, with a particular focus on fish plucked from the Pacific Ocean waters that surround this archipelago state. Get a taste of ahi tuna at Grandma G&rsquos Ono Grindz, where owners Robyn and Eric Ishisaka serve it in five different preparations. The Panko Crusted Ahi with Sweet Wasabi Drizzle is the most-popular pick. To make it, the Ishisakas prepare a Hawaiian ahi filet katsu-syle by dipping it in flour, egg and Panko bread crumbs, then pan-frying it until the interior is medium-rare inside and golden-crisp outside. A splash of sweet wasabi sauce adds depth of flavor to this fried favorite. Each order comes served like a typical Hawaiian plate lunch with two scoops of rice and local greens. Round it out with a can of passion orange juice made in Hawaii.
North Dakota: Poutine
North Dakota may be known for its tater tot hotdish, but it&rsquos a spud-centric dish of a different sort that has captured the spotlight at the North Dakota State Fair. Poutine, a Canadian dish of French fries topped with fresh cheese curds and brown gravy, is a fitting addition to the fair&rsquos food lineup, given that the fairground&rsquos Minot location is just a little more than 50 miles away from the Canadian border. Longtime fair vendor Walleye on a Stick won the annual Food Frenzy food contest in 2012 with its classic rendition, which has earned a loyal following among fair attendees.
Nebraska: Reuben Burger
Nebraska is known for its beef, so don&rsquot miss out on the burgers at the Nebraska State Fair. Cactus Jack&rsquos Chuck Wagon has earned a following for its roster of gourmet burgers, several of which deliver a double helping of beef. One standout is the Reuben Burger, which reimagines the Omaha-born sandwich as a seasoned steak burger topped with thickly-sliced smoked brisket, a gooey mound of white American cheese, a tangy heap of sauerkraut and a signature bistro sauce. First offered at the Nebraska State Fair in 2017, the top-selling dish has earned a permanent spot on Cactus Jack&rsquos menu alongside another brisket-topped spin: the Cactus Jack Burger featuring melty smoked cheddar cheese, spicy jalapenos and sweet barbecue sauce.
Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania Dutch Funnel Cake
Pennsylvania has more than 100 agricultural fairs, but arguably no treat as iconic as the Pennsylvania Dutch Funnel Cake. Get a taste at The Great Allentown Fair. To make this traditional cake, a batter featuring a blend of flour, milk, eggs, sugar and baking powder is piped through a funnel into hot oil in a circular coil shape the swirl is fried until golden-crisp, then served hot with a sprinkle of powdered sugar. The funnel cake earned its signature status thanks to a woman named Alice Reinert, who was a regular on the Eastern Pennsylvania fair circuit from the 1960s to the early &rsquo90s. Known for her showmanship, she would narrate in her Pennsylvania Dutch accent while turning out her famous funnel cakes made from a family recipe.
Oklahoma: Indian Taco
Oklahoma is home to The National Indian Taco Championships in Pawhuska, so it&rsquos no surprise that Indian Tacos are one of the Oklahoma State Fair&rsquos signature dishes &mdash with an average of 45,000 to 50,000 sold annually. Indian tacos are made with fry bread, a traditional Native American staple used as the base of many meals. Typically, the fried round of dough is layered with standard taco toppings like seasoned ground beef, beans, lettuce, tomatoes and cheese, though you can also find versions made with brisket, steak and grilled or shredded chicken, as well as less common add-ons like sliced black olives, jalapenos and serrano chiles. Look for Indian tacos at vendors like Manny's Elephant Ear, Tad&rsquos Indian Tacos and Dan&rsquos Indian Tacos, where you can also order fry bread with sweet toppings like honey and powdered sugar.
Wyoming: Rotary Club Hamburger
Where&rsquos the beef? It&rsquos in Wyoming. Lasso plenty of beef-centric eats at the Wyoming State Fair, held every August in Douglas. The vendors keep it classic with BBQ beef sandwiches, prime rib sandwiches and steaks, but nothing quite satisfies on a summer day like a good old-fashioned burger. Follow the meat-loving herds to the Douglas Rotary Club booth, where volunteers serve the fan favorite: a grilled, locally-raised beef patty topped with cheese, lettuce, tomato, and onions on a bun.
Louisiana: Bayou Balls
Since its inception in 1906, the State Fair of Louisiana has drawn hundreds of thousands of visitors from across the state and neighboring Arkansas and Texas to the city of Shreveport. For a true taste of Louisiana, head to Ms. Piggy&rsquos Catering, where owner Brenda Brown offers Cajun-inspired fare like the fan-favorite Bayou Balls. Coated in crisp Panko breadcrumbs and drizzled with Brown&rsquos signature Good Times Cajun sauce, this deep-fried trio serves as a tempting introduction to regional flavors. Brown offers her take on a Southern Louisiana specialty with the Boudin Ball packed with ground pork sausage, liver, rice and the holy trinity (bell peppers, onions and celery), all laced with plenty of Cajun seasoning and cayenne. She showcases another state staple with the Crawfish Ball that combines tail meat and jus with the holy trinity and crawfish boil seasoning for added depth of flavor. The Gator Ball features yet another regional delicacy &mdash alligator meat &mdash which Brown mixes with mild-flavored Monterey cheese. Balance the rich savory flavors by tacking on a sweet option to your order. Brown reimagines bread pudding by delivering cinnamon-and-sugar-sweetened pieces of the classic dessert as a deep-fried ball drenched in Kentucky bourbon-spiked caramel sauce. Add to the decadence with an optional sprinkling of raisins and powdered sugar.
Minnesota: Sweet Martha’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
Nearly two million people visit the Minnesota State Fair annually, so it&rsquos no wonder a staggering amount of food is served by the 300-plus vendors on the premises. Case in point: Sweet Martha&rsquos Cookie Jar. Owner Martha Rossini Olson and her team bake 2,000 cookies per minute (yes, minute) to keep up with demand. Her signature warm chocolate chip cookies can be ordered by the cone or bucket. Want to supplement your sweet snack with more sustenance? The fair offers more than 500 different dishes, ranging from the typical deep-fried and on-a-stick bites to gluten-free, vegetarian and global foods.
North Carolina: Cheerwine Funnel Cake
The North Carolina State Fair turned 150 in 2017, the same year that local soda Cheerwine marked its 100th anniversary. To celebrate, longtime fair vendors Beth and Nancy Tapp created the Cheerwine Funnel Cake for their Beaver Concessions booth, where they&rsquove been turning out funnel cakes and deep-fried pies since their father started the business in the 1950s. This celebratory funnel cake features, you guessed it, Cheerwine as its special ingredient. The soda imparts a double dose of cherry cola flavor and pink tint to both the funnel cake batter and the buttercream icing. The sweet treat proved so popular that it&rsquos earned a permanent spot on the Beaver Concessions menu.
Colorado: Deep-Fried Pueblo Chiles
Fair food is practically synonymous with fried fare, but none embody regional flavors and a sense of place quite like the deep-fried pueblo chiles served at the Colorado State Fair in the town of Pueblo. The pueblo chile (named for the town in which it grows) is a go-to ingredient across Southwestern Colorado, lending a zesty kick to dishes like eggs, burgers, pasta and salsa. But the regional staple gets star billing at the state fair, courtesy of the Chiles en Fuego booth, where local pueblo chiles are dipped in a signature batter created by owner Tom Giodone Sr.&rsquos daughter, then fried until golden-crisp. The fiery chiles live up to the vendor&rsquos name with a creeping, tangy heat, but you can counter the burn with a side of ranch or cheddar cheese dip.
Delaware: Scrapple Sandwich
Nestled between the Delaware shore and the capital city of Dover lies the quaint town of Harrington, where the Delaware State Fair draws more than 300,000 attendees annually. And the fair food that always attracts the biggest crowd is scrapple. While Delaware didn&rsquot invent scrapple, a meatloaf-type dish made of pork and corn meal created by the Pennsylvania Dutch, it is the nation&rsquos largest scrapple producer. Scrapple is commonly eaten for breakfast in many mid-Atlantic states, but in Delaware, it&rsquos also a fixture on lunch and dinner menus, finding its way into tacos, burritos and sandwiches across the region. The Delaware State Fair is no exception, with Haass&rsquo on the Go offering an exemplary take on the scrapple sandwich. Its version features scrapple from sister operation Haass&rsquo Family Butcher Shop, where they make the delicacy with pork meat, water, flour, cornmeal, black pepper, salt and sage. They pass the mixture through a meat grinder, then form it into a loaf that&rsquos chilled overnight. Opt for a scrapple sandwich at Haass&rsquo food truck and they&rsquoll thinly slice and fry the scrapple before placing it between slices of white bread. Customize it with condiments like mustard and mayo or sweet toppings like grape jelly and maple syrup.
Georgia: Black-Eyed Peas
The Granny&rsquos Apple Dumplings booth has been a fixture at the North Georgia State Fair for more than 25 years, and while they&rsquore known for their namesake sweet treat, it&rsquos a savory dish that has become their sleeper hit: black-eyed peas. The dish was born out of necessity for owners Michelle and Joe Cornett, who needed a practical way to feed themselves during festivals (and later, their daughter, who helps run the covered wagon trailer). Little did they know their go-to meal made in a crockpot would attract so much attention, but word soon got out about their black-eyed peas simmered with bacon and served with chopped fresh onions and homemade cornbread muffins. After multiple requests, the Cornetts added the dish to their menu. Order the Sweetheart Special for a bowl of black-eyed peas served with two pieces of fluffy buttermilk cornbread, which are made with garlic salt instead of sugar for an added savory touch.
Get a free(!) taste of tradition at the Mississippi State Fair, which boasts bragging rights as one of the oldest fairs in the South. Founded in 1859, the fair kicks off in the capital city of Jackson every October (on the third Wednesday of the month, to be exact). And since 1983, employees from the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce and the Mississippi Fair Commission have been treating attendees to a Southern specialty at no charge. They knead, roll, cut and bake fluffy Southern-style biscuits, then drench them in sweet syrup and serve while still warm. An average of 100,000 biscuits are made and given away to fairgoers every year. Hundreds of gallons of buttermilk, pounds of shortening, cases of syrup and thousands of pounds of flour are donated every year so that the free treat can continue to be a fair tradition.
Virginia: Butt Fries
Virginia has a strong history of pork production, so it&rsquos no wonder the prized meat is on prominent display at the state fair. Pork is a menu mainstay at various food booths sprawled throughout Meadow Event Park, home to the annual Virginia State Fair and a landmark in its own right as the birthplace of the Triple Crown-winning racehorse Secretariat. If shredded pork&rsquos your thing, head to Hog Wild BBQ and order the Butt Fries. Hickory-smoked-then-shredded pork comes heaped on a pile of French fries, along with sour cream, cheese sauce, barbecue sauce and green onions. Fry toppings go beyond pork, with options that include the brisket-laden Bull Fries.
Arkansas: Peanut Patties
Take a sweet bite out of Arkansas at the Four States Fair in Texarkana, where Elve&rsquos Candy peddles a special state-shaped version of its peanut patties. Fans across all four states repped at the fair &mdash Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana &mdash make a beeline for the Elve&rsquos booth to score this Southern specialty that looks like peanut brittle but eats like a praline. The confectioner has been making its peanut patties since 1956, following a recipe developed by original owner Elve Otwell. The ingredients are simple &mdash sugar, corn syrup, vanilla and red-skinned Spanish peanuts &mdash but the recipe and time-tested technique are a well-guarded secret known only to three people, including owner Shelly Hickey (even her husband isn&rsquot privy). The diminutive confections are typically round, but for the Four States Fair, Hickey crafts them into the shape of the Natural State. The candies are sold at fairs across Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana, and also available online.
Iowa: Pork Chop on a Stick
Iowa may be nicknamed the Corn State, but grain isn&rsquot its only game. Case in point: Iowa is the top pork producer in the country. Look no further than the Iowa State Fair&rsquos Pork Tent, where local pork farmers show their chops, literally. The nine-ounce, Frenched bone-in chops are cooked on rotisserie grills, so that they slowly cook in their own juices to tender, juicy effect optional salt, pepper and barbecue sauce are available for seasoning. The bone acts as a built-in stick, making for a portable porky snack that&rsquos become as much a tradition as the fair itself &mdash 50,000 to 60,000 pork chops on a stick are sold every year.
New Jersey: Meatball and Mozzarella Bread Cone
With Italian-American food being one of New Jersey&rsquos most-famous cuisines, it&rsquos practically a prerequisite to sample a meatball or two at the New Jersey State Fair/ Sussex County Farm and Horse Show. Get your fill at Cone-Utopia, where owner William Grzybowski simmers beef meatballs in a rich, homemade marinara sauce, then piles them into a steamed Italian bread cone and tops them with shredded mozzarella. Comfort foods are a favorite inspiration for Grzybowski, who also offers cones stuffed with pulled pork topped with coleslaw, bacon mac 'n' cheese, and shrimp po&rsquo boy fixings.
Oregon: Hemp Burger
Every July, approximately 45,000 visitors gather on 500 wooded acres outside Veneta to attend the Oregon Country Fair. This rustic-meets-artsy event features 19 stages for entertainment acts that range from vaudeville to spoken word, as well as a one-of-a-kind craft fair and more than 80 food vendors catering to a diverse range of tastes. A tempting array of global cuisines and local favorites beckon from vibrantly adorned wooden booths, with options that include gluten-free, raw and vegan. One standout is the vegan-friendly hemp burger served at the Hemp House Grill (hemp production is legal in Oregon). The organic patty&rsquos signature ingredient is the hemp nut (the diminutive nut left after de-shelling hemp seeds), which is combined with quinoa, garbanzo beans and fresh herbs to ensure a tender texture that mimics a well-cooked burger. The burger&rsquos earthy-nutty flavors are complemented by a sweet-spicy hemp sauce bolstered with garlic and basil. Go all in by pairing your burger with a hemp nut milkshake (available in tropical or strawberry flavors).
Michigan: Chocolate Covered Cherry Scone
A major player on the country&rsquos agricultural scene, Michigan reps its farmlands hard at the annual Michigan State Fair that takes place every Labor Day weekend. Farmers show off the fruits of their labor, literally, with rows upon rows of apples, blueberries and more. Don&rsquot miss out on the cherries, which show up in a number of treats, including the Michigan cherry scone offered at The Great Foodini booth. Owner Renee Chodkowsi studs her flaky-crumbly pastries with dried Michigan cherries and dark chocolate chips, then finishes them with a decadent chocolate drizzle.
Montana: The Viking
Every year, more than 70,000 people descend on Great Falls to attend the Montana State Fair, and for many of them, a trip wouldn&rsquot be complete without the Viking. This meatball on a stick draws the crowds to the Sons of Norway booth, which packs Nordic-inspired flavors into the deep-fried snack. It starts with a ball of ground beef that&rsquos bound with egg and oatmeal, seasoned with onions and a signature Scandinavian spice blend, then dipped in batter and deep-fried. This portable snack has proven to be so popular that some fairgoers order the Viking by the dozen to take home.
Utah: French Fry-Stuffed Burger
Many a concession stand operator embraces the deep-fried side of fair foods, but Rocky Mountain Concessions celebrates on the next level with its French-Fry Stuffed Burger offered at the Utah State Fair. Owner Ken Copeland creates an all-in-one portable treat by stuffing a cooked hamburger patty piled with shredded cheddar-jack cheese, pickles and pre-cooked fries into a scratch-made dough. He crimps the edges to ensure the fillings stay inside, then deep-fries the dough until it&rsquos golden-brown. Ketchup, mustard and mayo are served for dipping. Or you can make your own version of Utah&rsquos famous Fry Sauce (which is practically the state&rsquos official dip) by mixing ketchup and mayo together.
New York: Buffalo Wing Sauce
One of the highlights of The Great New York State Fair is Taste NY, where fairgoers can sample and take home some of the top food products made in the Empire State. Vendors change daily throughout the 13-day fair, but for a taste of one of New York&rsquos great food exports &mdash Buffalo wing sauce &mdash stop by Abigails Restaurant&rsquos booth to sample Chef Marshall Grady&rsquos Bleu Bayou sauce. Wings are swapped for tortilla chips due to fair restrictions, but this Louisiana-style hot pepper sauce blended with bleu cheese and fresh celery can hold its own against any snack. The sauce comes in mild, medium and hot the secret to the hot version&rsquos fiery flair is the addition of locally-grown jalapeno, ghost and scotch bonnet peppers.
Though Pelham&rsquos Oak Mountain State Fair is one of the new fairs on the block (it launched in 2012), it&rsquos already earned a reputation for its live music and family-friendly atmosphere. But even with all the entertainment on offer, the main attraction for some fairgoers is the Mi&rsquo Pueblo food stand. Fans line up for the locally-famous esquites (a creamy corn salad), tacos and tamales. Made fresh daily from a family recipe, the tamales feature homemade masa wrapped around one of two equally enticing fillings: shredded pork with red salsa or shredded chicken with tomatillo salsa. Once assembled inside individual corn husks, the tamales are evenly stacked and steamed in a large pot for two hours and served warm. They&rsquore great for eating on the go just peel back the corn husk and add toppings like hot or mild salsa, sour cream and guacamole. Pair with an agua fresca (try the lemonade or horchata) or a freshly-cracked coconut, served with a straw for sipping, and you&rsquove got the perfect portable meal for exploring the fairgrounds.
Maryland: Crabby Patty
Horse racing may be a major attraction at the Maryland State Fair, but we&rsquod rather place our bets on the regionally-inspired crab cakes. Get a taste at the Maryland Foods Pavilion, which turns out the Crabby Patty. To make this sea-kissed sandwich, a no-filler crab cake and a fried soft-shell crab are piled onto a roll with lettuce and tomato. Round out the meal with other locally-accented fair favorites, including a corn on the cob dusted with Old Bay and a peach sundae featuring slices of fresh Maryland peaches and whipped cream perched on a mound of yogurt.
South Dakota: Smoked Roast Beef Sandwich
To say that South Dakota is a state that likes beef is an understatement: cows outnumber people by nearly five to one. To wit, one of the most sought-after dishes at the South Dakota State Fair is a smoked roast beef sandwich. The South Dakota Cattlemen&rsquos Association has been serving its signature creation at the Huron-based fair for more than 15 years, to the tune of one thousand sandwiches per day. Locally-raised beef is seasoned with a top-secret rub and slowly roasted on a hickory wood-fired pellet grill for eight hours. Sandwiches are made to order, so still-warm slices of the beef served au jus are tucked into a bun right before being handed over to the customer. You can customize your sandwich with pickles, barbecue sauce, ketchup or mustard, or upgrade to a Beef Melt that brings roast beef together with sautéed peppers, onions and cheese, all piled onto a hoagie bun.
Tennessee: Deep-Fried Goo Goo Cluster
Since its beginnings in 1855, the Tennessee State Fair has drawn crowds to Music City&rsquos historic fairgrounds, hosting such acts as Sonny & Cher and ZZ Top. But locals sing the loudest praises for the Goo Goo Cluster, a Nashville-made confection invented in 1912 that features a cluster of roasted peanuts, marshmallow nougat and caramel enrobed in milk chocolate. While you can find the chocolate confection statewide, you can only get them deep-fried at the fair. So beloved is the Deep-Fried Goo Goo Cluster that is has earned the title of Official Tennessee State Fair Treat. Head to Strickland's Funnel Cakes where Goo Goo Clusters are frozen, dipped in batter and deep-fried, then dusted with powdered sugar and served on a stick.
Connecticut: Lime Rickey
The Durham Fair is not only Connecticut&rsquos largest agricultural fair, it is also one of the largest all-volunteer fairs in the country. And the 60-strong team of United Churches of Durham volunteers may have the most-rewarding task of all, making and selling a sought-after treat for their annual fundraiser. They combine freshly squeezed lime juice, simple syrup and seltzer to create a tart, refreshing Lime Rickey mocktail. Each drink comes served in a custom 30-ounce cup that&rsquos refilled at a discount year after year, a tradition that has turned the tumblers into collectors&rsquo items &mdash and kept the dollars pouring in. The United Churches of Durham raised more than $26,000 from drink sales in 2017 alone.
West Virginia: Country Ham Sandwich
Fair tradition runs deep in Lewisburg, which first stirred up carnival fever with the Greenbrier Industrial Exhibition back in the 1800s. Now known as the State Fair of West Virginia, the ten-day festival features the usual carnival rides, along with horse shows, harness racing and livestock exhibits. The fair&rsquos deep agricultural roots are underscored by its signature dish, a country ham sandwich that&rsquos prepared by volunteers to support the Greenbrier East High School chapter of the Future Farmers of America. A quarter-inch-thick slice of ham is cooked on a grill, then tucked into a warm hamburger bun and topped with lettuce and mayo.
Alaska: Deep-Fried Halibut
With rugged mountains like the Twin Peaks serving as its backdrop, it&rsquos fitting that the Alaska State Fair puts a rustic spin on its food stands. Log cabin booths house vendors hawking local delicacies: Pristine Products serves Prince William Sound oysters, Indian Valley Meats slings spicy reindeer sausages and Seafood Alaska features the fan-favorite: deep-fried halibut. Seafood Alaska&rsquos owner Annie Ernst sources the fish straight from the shores of the Kenai Peninsula, then dredges it in a scratch-made tempura batter and fries it to order. Get the filet with a side of French fries (aka fish and chips), or tucked into a pita pocket for a lighter take, but don&rsquot miss the homemade tartar sauce.
Kentucky: BBQ Porkchop Sandwich
When it comes to pork-centric food options, the Kentucky State Fair is spoiled for choice. One pigout-worthy option is the pork chop sandwich that&rsquos served at eight different booths operated by the Kentucky Pork Producers Association. Typically, the butterflied, boneless eight-ounce pork chops are grilled low and slow over charcoal and basted in a vinegar-based barbeque sauce, then placed between two halves of a pretzel bun. But when demand reaches peak heights, the chops are also prepared using a shortcut method that involves 500-degree automatic cookers and takes less than an hour. Offered for more than 35 years, this sandwich has reached icon status, with approximately 40,000 made throughout the duration of the fair. Taste it for yourself, but be sure to add a side of coleslaw and baked beans for a truly Southern culinary experience.
Every September, people from across the Sunflower State travel to Hutchinson, or Hutch as it&rsquos locally known, to attend the Kansas State Fair. For a taste of best-in-show local food, head to the Kansas Kitchen & Bakery serving breakfast and lunch in the Pride of Kansas Building. Operated by the crew from local restaurant Wheatfield Bakery, this sit-down cafe has been a fair fixture for more than 20 years. Crowd favorites include cinnamon rolls, biscuits and gravy, and roast beef sandwiches, but if it&rsquos a taste of Kansas&rsquo culinary heritage you&rsquore after, opt for the bierock. First introduced to the state by German and Eastern European immigrants, this baked meat pie comes crammed with savory fillings enveloped in a golden dough. At Kansas Kitchen, they stick close to tradition by stuffing the same sweet dough used for their cinnamon rolls with a mix of ground beef, cabbage, onions and carrots, but veer slightly from the standard by adding grated cheddar cheese before folding and sealing the dough. Other non-conventional additions include the option of nacho cheese on the side or a ladleful of gravy on top.
Rhode Island: Seafood Chowder
Richmond&rsquos Washington County Fair has a few claims to fame, among them being Rhode Island&rsquos biggest agricultural event and home to New England&rsquos largest traveling roller coaster. The fair&rsquos food lineup is distinct in and of itself: all fair food booths are owned and operated by non-profit organizations, with proceeds benefiting their missions and community causes. For a taste of the Ocean State, head to the South Kingstown High School Athletic Booster&rsquos tent for a bowl of seafood chowder made with local clams, mussels, lobster and fish.
23 Mouthwatering Burger Recipes for National Burger Day
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Discover what valuable lessons these small business owners and entrepreneurs took away from the spring session of the Selfmade 10-week course at Selfmade Success Stories.
14 Fun Fair Foods You Can Make at Home
Hush puppies are just deep-fried cornbread nuggets, but that doesn't mean we don't worship every single thing about them.
Here it is, the spongy, fried legend itself. If you have some Twinkies in the pantry (you should because they last forever), you're going to want to whip them out for this.
Like anything deep fried and covered in cinnamon-sugar, these mini churros are dangerously good. It's Spanish tradition to have some kind of chocolate dipping sauce, so don't you dare skip that drizzle.
Fried pies are a staple of the Southern county fair, and life in general. This recipe stays true to tradition using dried peaches (like they do in the South when the pantry is low), but feel free to sub another dried fruit.
Look how dainty these are. You should serve these as an appetizer at your next dinner party, and you should also probably add bacon inside.
If this recipe lineup is giving you chest pains already, you'll be happy to know that these "fried" Oreos are actually baked. They're still encased in pastry and dusted with powdered sugar though, so don't go reaching for that bikini just yet. YOLO.
Nothing says good times ahead like a hot dog. These get extra credit for the quick and easy relish topping which makes them slightly fancier than the ones you'll find on the fairgrounds.
The barbaric act of diving teeth first into a hot, juicy turkey leg is one of life's greatest pleasures. Don't wait until the fair comes to town to experience this nirvana.
Okay, so these might not be exactly like the shaved ice you get at the county fair, but there is booze involved. Plus, that fake-tasting syrup gets the boot in favor of, you know, actual fruit, which makes them even better.
Pretzels are soooo time consuming and hard to make, right? Nope. Just 30 minutes stands between you and these doughy pieces of heaven. Top with salt or cinnamon sugar if that's your game they don't discriminate.
We can think of a dozen reasons to eat fried pickles outside of a state fair. All of them also involve yoga pants and Netflix.
There are two kinds of people in this world: Those familiar with Frito pie (probably Texans) and those who aren't (definitely not Texans). For the latter group, it's essentially a bag of corn chips ripped open and smothered with chili and sredded cheese. It's also called a walking taco for obvious reasons. Get into it.
Outrageous and Fun: Fair Food to Grill At HomeBy Nancy Loseke
Forget cotton candy, caramel corn, and funnel cakes. If you’ve been to a fair or festival recently—the national calendar is clogged with dates in August and September—you know food offered on the midway has veered into “freak show” territory. Fried nuggets of pure butter, beer-battered dill pickles stuffed with hot dogs, and even deep-fried Kool-Aid. (Don’t ask.) With nearly everything on a stick.
I couldn’t help myself: I started trolling newspapers, blogs, and the food press to find the most outrageous fair-type foods that could be replicated at home with a grill or smoker. There were many, but I’ve listed some of the best (and most doable) below. Have fun with them!
Smoked Turkey Legs: Flintstonian-size smoked turkey legs—some weighing as much as 2 pounds—were popularized by the Disney parks. But these ham-like meat clubs are easy to make at home. Simply brine the legs using the recipe from Steven’s Bourbon- and Maple-Brined Smoked Turkey, adding 2 tablespoons of Prague powder or other instant curing salt to the mixture. Submerge the turkey legs (at least 4 to make it worth your time) in the brine and refrigerate for 24 hours. Rinse the legs under cold running water, but do not dry. Set up your smoker or charcoal grill for smoking and heat to 275 degrees. Smoke the legs until the internal temperature is 175 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 3 to 4 hours, depending on their size. If desired, crisp the skin over a medium-hot fire before serving.
Smoked Roast Beef Sandwich: Cattle outnumber people by five to one in this Midwestern state, so it’s no surprise South Dakota’s Cattlemen’s Association sells up to 1,000 smoked roast beef sandwiches a day. For this sandwich—especially if you’re feeding a crowd—we recommend Steven’s recipe for barbecued shoulder clod. Add cheese and grilled onions and peppers, if desired.
Belly Up Burger: Debuted by the Rib Shack, a vendor at the Iowa State Fair, this burger starts with a thick patty made from one-half pound of pork belly. It’s topped with sauced pulled pork, candied bacon, and coleslaw, and served on a bun. We suggest accompanying it with a homemade version of Pickle Pops—that is, frozen pickle juice. Simply insert Popsicle sticks in molds, fill with dill pickle juice (cut with a little sugar), and freeze until firm.
Muddy Pigs: Weave thick slices of bacon or cured pork belly on bamboo skewers. Indirect grill at 350 degrees until cooked, about 25 minutes, depending on their thickness. Let cool, then dip in or slather with melted chocolate. We wouldn’t say no to a sprinkle of chopped dry-roasted peanuts (add before the chocolate hardens).
Smoked Ice Cream: Because, why not? Steven’s been doing it for years. Add it to your repertoire and you’ll never look back.
Barbecue Split (or Sundae): Construct the former in a shallow rectangular bowl (or banana split dish) using scoops of barbecued pulled pork, mac ‘n cheese, and coleslaw. Garnish with a pickle spear and a cherry tomato. Make the latter by layering baked beans, pulled pork, and coleslaw in a sundae glass. Garnish with a barbecued rib and a cherry tomato.
Pork Chop on a Stick: The pork producers’ tent at the Iowa State Fair sold 60,000 of their succulent 9-ounce, bone-in pork chops on a stick last year. If making these at home, we’d brine the chops (see the Maple and Bourbon brine above), make shallow knife cuts in the collars of fat to keep them from curling, then thread the chops on a rotisserie spit for grilling. About 1 hour of spinning should do it. Alternatively, indirect grill these thick chops until the internal temperature is at least 145 degrees. Impale through the side on a sturdy skewer or sharpened chopstick. By the way, you can make a variation of this using this recipe for Monroe County Pork Steaks with Spicy Vinegar Dip. Similar chops have been featured at the Kentucky State Fair for over 35 years.
Reuben Burger: Omaha, Nebraska, claims to be the birthplace of the classic Reuben sandwich, so it’s no surprise that it inspires food vendors at the state fair. Here’s how they make in in Big Red country: Top a grilled beef burger with a slice of pastrami and Swiss cheese. When the cheese melts, transfer the stack of meat and cheese to a toasted bun. Top with drained sauerkraut and Russian or Thousand Island dressing.
Mexican Grilled Corn: Grilled or roasted corn is an extremely popular snack in the nation’s corn belt. We recently shared several of our favorite grilled corn recipes in a blog, including elotes and others. Or, you can simply spiral thin-cut bacon around an ear of corn and direct grill it, turning frequently, until the bacon is crisp. Serve on a stick or sharpened chopstick if you want that fair vibe!
Grilled Caesar Salad: Leave it to the Orange County fair in southern California to tempt fairgoers away from fried foods with a grilled salad. Actually, Steven posted a recipe many years ago for what now seems like health food, comparatively speaking. Find it here.
Krispy Kreme Burger: Popular in several states, from Indiana to Alabama, is this too-good-to-look-away indulgence. Grill your favorite burger and use two glazed donuts in lieu of a hamburger bun.
The Big Beef Rib: Another attention getter at the Orange County fair in southern California is an unnatural meeting of two pounds of grilled USDA prime beef and a 17-inch bone. (The beef is impaled on the bone, not attached to it by any act of God.) Though not an exact copy, you can enjoy Big Bad Plate Ribs from Project Smoke. Lip-smackingly good. Order beef plate ribs from your butcher as supermarkets rarely carry them. The IMPS/NAMP number of this cut is 123A. (Your butcher should know what that means.)
Have a fair-favorite to try at home? Tell us about it on Facebook, Twitter, or the Barbecue Board.
It's a fiesta of fair food in Florida! Noah Cappe samples one of the craziest carnival eats in America: Chicken Wing Ice Cream. Then it's the classic Glazed Donut Burger, complete with cheese and bacon. A Red Velvet Funnel Cake and a Lobster Roll made with local lobster round out the day. Then it's across the state to the Sarasota County Agricultural Fair, where Noah meets sisters who've been on the road since they were kids, selling favorites like Deep Fried Cheesecake and Fried Green Tomatoes. The local agricultural association shows Noah their top seller, the Pulled Pork sandwich and finally Noah wrestles Gator on a Stick.
89er Days/Pungo Strawberry Festival
Funnyman host Noah Cappe indulges in America's favorite carnival eats at the 89er Days Festival celebrating the land run in Oklahoma's historic first capital, Guthrie. He meets a fourth generation Cherokee who teaches him the secret to authentic fry bread for Indian Tacos. He loosens his belt to take on the Giant Texas Tenderloin Sandwich and begs for more as he wolfs down the delightfully decadent Fudge Puppy. Next, he takes his pick from a field of flavours at the Pungo, Virginia Strawberry Festival where he finds himself getting sweet on Strawberry Arugala Pizza, supersizes a Strawberry Shortcake and puckers up with giant Deep Fried Pickles. Finally, it's a race against time as he discovers the crunchy creamy goodness of the Soft Shell Crab Sandwich.
Viva! Vienna! Festival/Contraband Days Festival
This trip, Noah Cappe celebrates Memorial Day weekend at suburban DC's ViVa! Vienna! festival, where the fastest way to his heart is through divine Soul Food. He springs for Loaded Perogies, learns a new spin on an old favorite with Philly Cheese Steak Fries and sees food and eats it with Baltimore-style Crab Dip. Then, he sets course for the bayou where he uncovers some tasty treasures at the pirate-themed Contraband Days festival in Lake Charles, La. There, he gets a lesson in down-home Cajun cooking with Chicken and Crawfish Gumbo, fancies up funnel cake with maple and candied bacon and goes nuts for Creole-style Praline candies with Miss Rita.
Oak Mountain Spring State Fair/Apache Rattlesnake Festival
On this episode, host Noah Cappe travels to Oklahoma for the Apache Rattlesnake Festival. He bravely samples the Deep Fried Rattlesnake, the namesake dish of the festival. Then it's back to more carnival classics like Texas Twister Fries and the spicy Mexi-Dog. Later, Noah takes in the treats at Alabama's Oak Mountain Spring Fair. Starting with Dre's Barbeque Baked Potato, and moving onto cheese-stuffed gilled pork balls, jambalaya stuffed peppers and finishing up with Deep Fried Bread Pudding, it's southern comfort food with a fair flare!
Portland Rose Festival & Got to be NC Fair
Noah Cappe heads to North Carolina for the Got To Be NC Fest. Local pecans top the Cinnamon Roll Waffles and Noah tries the only Donut Sloppy Joe on offer on the east coast fair circuit. Then it's across the country for the Portland Rose Festival. He devours smoked mac & cheese, a dish so amazing it's got the people of Portland dancing in the streets. Next, the classic American apple pie gets the carnival eats treatment and is transformed into Apple Pie Fries. Beef Tongue Tacos prove that Portland is still keeping it weird.
Meadowlands State Fair/Gardendale Magnolia Festival
Noah Cappe jets into State Fair Meadowlands to check out the freak show of food, beginning with Cream Cheese Larvets. He also indulges in the Pig in Mud: chocolate covered, deep fried bacon. Next, it's down south to Alabama. Local Vendor Big Daddy's BBQ Ribs are the talk of the fair, but it's the Sweet Potato Pie Ice Cream churned in a tractor that converts Noah into a believer.
California State Fair/North East Fair
In North East, Penn., host Noah Cappe eats a Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich even The King would approve of, and checks out a Chicken-Stuffed Pretzel so good, it's got Noah all shook up. Next, Noah heads across the country to the California State Fair. The fair highlights the state's fresh produce in dishes like Spaghetti Ice Cream, where California strawberries are the base of the "sauce" in this frozen delight. And the famous Lobster Corn Dog gets crowds lining up to sample some of the freshest seafood on the West Coast.
In this episode, host Noah Cappe arrives at the Stanislaus County Fair in Turlock, CA. He gets his paws into homemade fries topped with lobster claws and tail meat, and devours a delicious donut ice cream sandwich. Finally, he sizes up an 18" corn dog big enough to feed a family and dips his tongue into Cajun cuisine with Deep Fried Frogs Legs. Then it's down to the Gulf Coast for the Texas Crab Fest. Noah savors a soft shell crab taco, coconut encrusted shrimp and gooey Grasshopper pie while enjoying the hospitality of Crystal Beach, Texas.
Ohio State Fair/NC Potato Festival
Host Noah Cappe heads to the Ohio State Fair, one of the country's oldest and biggest fairs, with food that's just as outrageous. Noah samples a perfect combination of savory meat and sweet treats in the Pulled Pork Donut. Fair classics like Funnel Cakes and the Blooming Onion and Funnel Cakes get a Ohio state spin but it's the Giant Deep Fried Gummy Bear that really gets Noah going. Then he heads to the NC Potato Festival in North Carolina, where a local specialty is a big hit: Calabash Flounder.
Indiana State Fair/Old Canal Days
The Indiana State Fair is one of the oldest fairs in the country, with some of the best fair foods around. Noah constructs, and devours a Colossal Grilled Cheese Sandwich with the help of the state dairy association. Next he takes the classic elephant ear to the next level by packing it full of fruit filling before frying it up. YaYa's Tomato Balls, a Greek family favorite, is his final dish of the day. Then it's over to neighboring Illinois for Old Canal Days in Lockport. Noah samples some insanely loaded potato bites before chowing down on Chicago-style pizza pie. A uniquely sweet donut treat rounds out another day of carnival eating.
Illinois State Fair/Erie County Fair
The Illinois State Fair is one of the longest running fairs in the U.S. and luckily for host Noah Cappe, he's able to sample a taste of Illinois history with the Horseshoe Sandwich: a deep fried pork tenderloin topped with French fries and creamy cheese sauce. Then he puts together an over-the-top deep fried peanut butter sandwich, topped with homemade fluff. Next, Noah travels to New York for the Erie County Fair where he chows down on some local Buffalo favourites like Buffalo Chicken Wing Pizza, Beef on Weck Eggrolls and the Bacon Bomber.
K-Days/North Dakota State Fair
In this episode, host Noah Cappe travels to Edmonton, Alberta for K-Days. He starts the day off right with a Canadian specialty turned into brunch: Breakfast Poutine. The creative combos continue with a fusion-inspired Japanese Dog and a S'mores Mini Donuts, with the summer camp favorite topping the perennial carnival classic. Across the border in North Dakota, Wild Rice Burgers, Idaho Tacos and Kettle Corn make up the regional fare in this prairie state.
Canadian National Exhibition/PrairieFest
At the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto, Ontario host Noah Cappe has nothing but appreciation for the Thanksgiving Waffle: a turkey dinner served on a waffle made from classic stuffing ingredients. Ethnic food options abound with traditional Arancini and a vegetarian Tofu Bao Taco. Then it's off to PrairieFest in Oswego, Illinois, where Noah indulges in a Chicago-style Beef and Sausage extravaganza, a Kimchee Korean Dog and some homemade Churros with Deep Fried Ice Cream.
It's the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, and host Noah Cappe has arrived at the Calgary Stampede ready to eat! He starts his visit off with the Stampede's hot new hit, Scorpion Pizza -- a slice of pizza loaded with edible insects. There are fair classics like Deep Fried Butter, Hot Beef Sundae, Deep Fried Mac and Cheese and Saltwater Taffy. Noah partakes of Calgary's cowboy culture in the traditional Stampede Breakfast, and finds some fusion food in the form of the Chicken Tinga Masala Tostada.
North Dakota State Fair/PrairieFest
In North Dakota, host Noah Cappe chows down on Wild Rice Burgers, Idaho Tacos and Kettle Corn, which make up the regional fare in this western state. Then it's off to PrairieFest in Oswego, Illinois, where Noah indulges in a Chicago-style Beef and Sausage extravaganza, a Kimchee Korean Dog and some homemade Churros with Deep Fried Ice Cream.
Go Nuts for Donuts
They're not just for breakfast any more! In this episode, host Noah Cappe explores some inventive dishes featuring one of America's national specialties: the donut. Donuts are the basis for some wacky carnival creations, from savory to sweet. From the classic Glazed Donut Bacon Cheeseburger, to the Grilled Chicken Raspberry Donut to incredible Donut Ice Cream Sandwiches, this episode highlights donut dishes from fairs across the country.
We Deep Fried That!
Fairs and festivals are where the innovators of deep fried delights do their best work. Host Noah Cappe travels the country, sampling some of the most outrageous feats of frying around. From tacos to butter balls, mac and cheese to watermelon, these concessionaires have found a way to include a layer of deep fried deliciousness in every bite.
All American Eats
Host Noah Cappe eats his way across America in this sampling of all American items. From Southern treats like Margaret's Soul Food Fried Chicken, to Big Daddy's BBQ Ribs to Northern surprises like Fried Green Tomatoes, and Eastern classics like Lobster Rolls and Pacific Western Apple Pie Fries, this episode salutes the culinary melting pot.
Stick It to Me
When you're on the midway, you want foods that are built for speed. The simplest solution is to stick it on a skewer. In this episode, Noah Cappe gets straight to the point tasting more fork-free foods than you can shake a stick at. From the enormous Family Dog to the Bacon Bomber, Gator Kabobs to the Fudge Puppy, these carnival creations are worth sticking around for.
All You Can Meat
The midway is home to rides, games and succulent meaty treats. Noah Cappe raises the stakes with these over-the-top meat experiences. Beginning with a Tri Tip Beef Sandwich that has folks in Portland tripping out, to Chicken Wing Ice Cream - the craziest dessert ever seen at a fair, this episode is guaranteed vegetable-free.
Festivals and fairs are the places to pile the yumminess HIGH and host Noah Cappe has found the best examples around. There are savory treats like BBQ Baked Potatoes, fries topped with lobster and a double decker Colossal Grilled Cheese, plus a decadent dessert that combines an ice cream sundae with mini funnel cakes to create a tower of taste.
Please share YOUR best Minnesota State Fair food and drink!
If you have any Minnesota State Fair favorite foods and/or drinks that you think we need to try, please leave a comment below. Thank you!
posted by Brenda Score on August 1, 2019 (updated August 10, 2020)