Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Marc's Take: State Fair Food Guide

This week’s guest post is the writing debut of my brother Marc. While he has made cameos on the blog over the past three years, this marks his first official article! My brother is a fantastic cook, expert meat and fish smoker, and all around great guy. He shares the family love for food adventures and this post covers one of his annual traditions. With the Big E running in Massachusetts, I asked him to share his guide to state fair eating. If you follow his guide, you'll be sure to have a great time. He currently lives in Indianapolis and shares his guide to the Indiana State Fair. I hope you enjoy!

State Fair Food Guide

The end of summer brings one of America’s great traditions, the State fairs. The Big E began this past weekend in Springfield. In Indiana our state fair takes place in August, so below are some highlights to help you guide your way through the Big E over the next few weeks.

State fairs began as a way to celebrate and promote local agriculture and products available in each state. They were a way for local farmers to showcase the crops and animals they raise. They were also way to educate each other on the best practices in farming. State Fairs continue to serve this function today, although it is more of an education for those of us that are not part of the agricultural industry on a daily basis. As you visit the fair be sure to take a walk through the animal barns and vegetable displays to see this first hand.

Yes, even Lambs have Snuggies (animal print snuggies)

Now let’s talk about what makes the state fair great, the food and in particular the deep fried foods. The Indiana fair offers a great way to enjoy the fair and try many different foods, Two Dollar Tuesday. Each Tuesday of the fair vendors offer a different item for $2, usually it is a smaller portion of their signature dish. This not only allows you to save money but also try significantly more items. I recommend checking the specials at your state fair for an opportunity like this.

For the past few years a group of friends and I have made the trip to the fair. Luckily the fair grounds are in Indianapolis just a 10 minute drive. Even if you are further away the state fair is a good day trip and is worth experiencing. Here are some highlights from our trips to the fair:

Appetizers- Always start with something sweet, that’s why you came to the fair to begin with right?

Deep Fried Butter- This is by far one of the best deep fried treats, imagine a frozen pat of butter coated in cinnamon and sugar dipped in funnel cake batter and deep fried. The resulting golf ball sized treat tastes like a gooey cinnamon roll. The best way to eat it is to bite off one end take the liquid center as if it were a shot and chase it with the fried dough. 5 out of 5.

Deep Fried Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup - Right up there with the deep fried butter. People rave about the Snickers Bar and the Twinkie. But the Reese's cup surpasses both. The full size Reese’s cup dipped is dipped in a funnel cake batter and fried until the outside is crisp. The inside of the dough is soft and the peanut butter and chocolate melt together to create an unforgettable combination. 5 out of 5.

Deep Fried Cookie Dough - This was actually found at Progressive field in Cleveland, home of the Cleveland Indians. We all love raw Chocolate Chip cookie dough and this hits the mark. A generous portion of raw cookie dough is covered in funnel cake batter, fried and served with powdered sugar. The cookie dough come out warm and tastes like a partially baked cookie. If you are at the ball park this is a must have. 5 out of 5.

Entrees- Time for something a bit heartier
Chicken Eggo Sandwich- A deep fried chicken breast coated in a Captain Crunch Batter between two eggo waffles. This was worth the hype and had a nice crunch on both the eggos and the chicken. I would recommend giving this a try if available at your fair. 4 out of 5

Donut or French Toast Cheeseburger- As it sounds a burger with maple syrup between two pieces of French toast or two krispy crème donuts (your choice). This has become more popular in recent years and really isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. The sweetness of the donuts overpowers the burger and doesn’t offer the right balance of sweet and savory. 2 out of 5

Burgers and donuts on the flat top.
Gotta love the ads.


Ya Ya’s Deep Fried Tomato Balls - Greek inspired combination of diced tomatoes, cheese onions and bread crumbs fried to a crisp golden brown. These come served with a tzaziki sauce that makes it extremely refreshing after all the sweet items you had before. 4 out of 5.

Corn on the Cob - I know what you are thinking. Corn on the Cob that is too healthy for the fair, why waste your time? Well remember the fair is about celebrating the harvest and the local farmers. Oh and they have crock pots full of melting butter that your corn takes a bath in before it gets to you. Throw that health concern out the window, nothing healthy about it. 5 out of 5

Hopefully this helps you navigate the state fair and narrow down some of the choices. What are your favorite fair foods?

Here are a few more fair offerings.

Deep fried brownie

Freshly fried Saratoga chips


  1. I love it! And have heartburn just from reading this :)

  2. holy fried food! I have never been to a state fair. maybe I shouldn't admit that actually...


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