Rejoice deep-fried food fans! The N.C. State Fair has opened and there are plenty of new treats coming out of the fryer: the Reese’O (a peanut butter cup and two Oreos), the Violet Vampire (a blueberry-infused funnel cake) and deep-fried Jell-O (think jelly doughnut).
And for those who like fried foods but don’t like sweets, fried seafood is a theme among the new foods at this year’s fair. There are crab cake fritters, fried fish and crab claws. For those who avoid fried food, there’s a Lowcountry boil and a crab dip, which was chosen as the best new fair food.
Some vendors are sourcing their seafood from North Carolina fishermen. Capt. Neill’s Seafood, which is selling the crab dip, is connected to a family-run seafood processing plant in Columbia, N.C. Ragin’ Cajun is sourcing the shrimp in its Lowcountry boil from the coast and trying to do the same with the crab in its fritters.
Noting how popular seafood is among the new foods at this year’s fair, Chris Wrenn of Ragin’ Cajun said, “The selection is un-‘fair.’ ”
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One favorite food will be missing this year. Mt. Olive Pickles will not be selling pickles for 50 cents each or handing out any of their scratch-and-sniff pickle stickers. The company, based in Mt. Olive in Eastern North Carolina, pulled out of the fair because so many employees were affected by Hurricane Matthew flooding, according to state fair staff.
All the new foods at the N.C. State Fair
▪ Deep-fried Jell-O, described as being like a jelly doughnut, is being sold by S2 Concessions, located in Kiddieland. Cost: $6.
▪ Deep-fried Reese’O (a Reese’s peanut butter cup between two Oreos), $4, and deep-fried Klondike bar, $5, sold by D&J Concessions at the grandstand, 1853 Grille and at the food stand inside the Scott building.
▪ Crab dip and deep-fried cocktail crab claws from Capt. Neill’s Seafood, near the Graham building and next to the mini-doughnut stand. Both cost $10.
▪ Lowcountry boil (corn, sausage, potatoes and large N.C. shrimp served with housemade cocktail sauce), $14, and crab cake fritters with chipotle butter, $8, from Ragin’ Cajun, outside Sam Rand Grandstand.
▪ Elvis ice cream (banana ice cream with peanut butter swirls) sold by R&R Ice Cream, which makes ice cream using John Deere tractors near the Village of Yesteryear. Cost: $5.
▪ Deep-fried Cuban egg roll with shredded pork, ham, Swiss cheese and pickle wrapped in an egg roll. It is served by Chef’s D’Lites, which is across from the bathrooms near the Sam Rand Grandstand. Cost: Two for $10.
▪ Phoenican fish and chips, $10, with spiced fried fish fillets with sumac and Za’atar herbed fries and served with three dipping sauces (herbed tahini, harissa and tzatziki sauces) at the Neomonde stand across from the permanent row of church food stands. They also will be serving a lamb kofta kebab. Cost: $6 for a skewer and $9 for a wrap.
▪ Deep-fried shrimp bites by N&T Concessions by Gate 9 near the rabbit barn. Cost: $10.
▪ Caramel apple crisp ice cream (apple cinnamon ice cream with caramel cinnamon swirl and crispy pie pieces) at the N.C. State University Howling Cow ice cream tent near the Hobbies and Crafts building. Cost: $5
▪ Bacon pimento cheeseburger egg roll from Woody’s Wings, which is located in a line of stands near the grandstand down to the entrance of midway. Cost: $6.
▪ Chocolate raspberry whoopie pie, $5, with chocolate genoise cake, vanilla bean cream and raspberry filling by La Farm Bakery truck, located on the south side of Dorton Arena. La Farm is also selling a pulled pork barbecue sandwich with a peach chipotle barbecue sauce on chipotle pimento sourdough for $10. They are selling some specialty loaves of bread: an Italian bread shaped like a spider for $15, the chipotle pimento loaf for $6 and Carolina gold rice bread for $9.
▪ Fried chicken-n-waffle kabob with Sriracha sauce maple syrup (two kabobs for $8), and chicken Luau (pineapple, peppers, onion, salsa, jasmine rice served in a pineapple bowl), $12, by Chicken-N-Que truck located between the Midway and the Scott building.
▪ Homemade chicken sausage baguette sold on the Baguettaboutit truck parked between the Graham Building and Dorton Arena. Cost: $9.
▪ Blueberry-infused funnel cake, aka the Violet Vampire, with powdered sugar, homemade blueberry pie filling, whipped cream and white chocolate drizzle and the caramel maple bacon funnel cake with Smithfield’s apple-smoked bacon at the Gobblin’ Gourmet near Gate 1. Cost: $8.
▪ Arepas and churros from Churros to Go in Kiddieland. Churro flavors include strawberry, caramel, chocolate, cinnamon with sugar, served with vanilla ice cream. Cost: $5-$6.
▪ Creme brulee caramel apple, $6.95, and fudge nut brownie caramel apples, $12.95, from Miss Debbie’s Specialty Apples inside the Commercial Building.
▪ The Man sandwich (grilled cheese wrapped in bacon), $10, and bacon-wrapped sausage on a stick, $8, at Bubba’s Bacon in Kiddieland.
▪ Deep-fried hot chocolate (cocoa-dipped marshmallows dipped in cocoa-infused batter and chocolate sauce) at State Fair Foods in Kiddieland. Cost: $6.
▪ Jamaican Jerk Chicken Jumbo Wings and Jerk Chicken Wrap from Cool Runnings Jamaican, which is in a line of stands west of the Scott building headed toward Dorton Arena. Both cost $8.
Today at the fair
Hours: Gates, 8 a.m.-midnight. Midway, 10 a.m.-midnight. Exhibit halls, 9 a.m. to 9:45 p.m.
Tickets: Adults (13-64), $10; children (6-12), $5; military with ID, $6; children 5 and younger and adults 65 and older, free.
Dorton Arena concert: Here as in Heaven: Raleigh, with Elevation Church, 7:30 p.m., free.
Forecast: Sunny, upper 60s.
Friday’s attendance last year: 90,954.
Our favorite new fair foods
Here’s what we liked the best from our sampling this week:
▪ Deep-fried crab claws and hot crab dip from Capt. Neill’s Seafood, near the Graham building.
▪ Lowcountry boil and crab cake fritters from Ragin’ Cajun, outside Sam Rand Grandstand.
▪ Caramel apple crisp ice cream from N.C. State University’s Howling Cow, near Hobbies & Crafts building.
▪ Deep-fried Reese’O available at 1853 Grille and two other locations.
▪ Violet Vampire funnel cake at the Gobblin’ Gourmet near Gate 1.