Food & Drink

Taste This

I don't care what new thing they've come up with to deep-fry at the State Fair this year. I won't be trying it. I lost interest in that annual fad the year a deep-fried Snickers bar darn near sent me into sugar shock.

I wouldn't have room for it anyway. My list of "must have" State Fair foods has grown so long over the years that I'm too full by the end of the day to try more than one or two new foods. It's admittedly a quirky list, but these foods define the experience for me just as much as corn dogs and funnel cakes do for others. Without them, it just wouldn't be the State Fair.

First, I've got to have the strawberry shortcake at the green trailer with the giant strawberry on top, near the Village of Yesteryear. It's made with locally grown strawberries, scratch-baked shortcakes and real whipped cream. As soon as I've polished it off, I'll head right back to the same trailer, which -- as luck would have it -- sells the best bloomin' onions at the State Fair. They're fried to order, so I know I can expect a wait of at least 10 minutes (which explains why I start with the shortcake).

Then, I'll follow my nose to the fragrant smoke wafting from the nearby roast corn vendor. The corn on the cob is so good (I always hope to get an ear with a few charred kernels) that I always get it without the dip in butter and seasoning salt. As a bonus, I know that this pre-emptive stop will silence that voice in my head (which sounds eerily like my mother) reminding me to eat my vegetables.

A smoked turkey leg is a must -- OK, I'll admit, partly because eating it makes me feel like a caveman. And I've got to have my maple sugar cotton candy fix from the husband-and-wife vendors in the Commercial building, who drive down from Vermont each year. And, of course the soft serve ice cream that's made in churns attached to converted John Deere tractor engines. I hope they have peach. Oh, and fried apple pies and fresh-pressed cider -- hot or cold, depending on the weather -- from the historic village down by the lake.

Last year, I couldn't find the vendor who sells my favorite sweet potato biscuits with country ham. I'm going to make it a point to find it this year, if it still exists. And if I have time, maybe I'll even ride a couple of rides and catch an exhibit or two.