Last year, I talked a bit about my undying love for the Minnesota State Fair. The big pig. The giant slide. The fish pond. The butter heads. I didn’t talk much about the food, except to mention that I would recap it in a separate post.
Given that I’m not going to be able to make it to the Middle West this summer, and that the fair is currently going on without me (how could they? sob!), there is no better time to write an ode to food at the fair than now.
Get ready for a caloric-laden food tour of the Minnesota State Fair, in picture form.
First up: Savory Delights.
If you’ve ever been to the Great Minnesota Get-Together, chances are you’ve had these Fresh French Fries. They are an obligatory purchase for many, although I, feeling no great love for potatoes, find them relatively uninteresting. What I do enjoy is dousing them heavily in malt vinegar.
They were apparently voted Best French Fries in America by Gourmet Magazine (a factoid I feel very meh about), but they are the fifth most popular food item at the fair. Find them around the fairgrounds at one of their several locations.
After downing all of those salty fries, make sure to chug at least three glasses at the All You Can Drink Milk (for $1) stand. Over time, the price of drinking as much milk as you can has gone up, from 10 cents, to 50 cents, to the now-ungodly sum of $1. Just as I’m not so big with fries, I’m not terribly into chugging milk… but this is the #3 food item at the fair, people. I’m just doing my part to inform you how all those folks you bump into along the fair’s crowded avenues are spending their cash.
You can always try out these raw meats or giant head radishes. Just kidding. These are part of competitions. Yes indeed, apparently, there is a “dress up a scarecrow in the form of your favorite garden crop” competition. Just kidding.
A few more iconic fair foods include the greasy Cheese Curds (above left, popular fair food #2), and The Big Pepper booth (iconic more in design than in popularity).
To risk sounding like a broken record, I don’t find these options very enticing. I was about to give up hope on savory food fair, when I remembered two of the (in my opinion) most delicious fried options available to fairgoers.
At Harrington’s (shown above, top), there is a little miracle available for purchase known as Fried Green Tomatoes. These are amazing. Served with ranch dressing, it is difficult to resist popping one into your mouth the moment they are placed in your hands. Beware, though, because they will be hot. And you will be burned. I was.
The Perfect Pickle stand (shown above, bottom) hawks giant pickles, as well as fried pickles. Fried pickles! Also amazing. Also also, likely to burn you, in a wicked way. Three types of fried pickles are sold here: I recommend trying the Sampler Pack, so that all three flavors (Perfect aka original, Cajun, and Gourmet) can be sampled. Watch out for the Gourmet Pickle, filled with cream cheese. It is the most delicious, but also the most likely to wound your tongue when hot.
Enough of this savory junk, am I right? Bring on the sweets!
Have you ever dreamed of eating this many cakes? I have. But I have never succeeded. Sadly, these cakes are not for eating, so I may never achieve this important life goal.
Those are not corn dogs shown above (because corn dogs are just another one of those gross savory things that I won’t touch). Those are Deep Fried Candy Bars. Years ago, when the deep fried candy bar stand’s wares rose to prominence amongst the legions of other nearby fried foods-on-stick, I was kind of grossed out. I tried one, probably a 3 Musketeers, and I didn’t think much of it.
That all changed last year, when we indulged in some deep fried Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. These are a must eat, in my opinion. They’re also quite filling, so consider saving them for the end, as we did.
Mini Doughnuts go hand in hand with fairs nationwide. So what makes the Mini Doughnuts at the Minnesota State Fair anything special? They are piping hot and fresh, for one. Secondly, the generous amount of sugar thrown into the bag ensures that the sweet tooth in your group will get an extra meal out of pouring leftover sugar straight from the bag down her throat.
Please invite me to be the sweet tooth in your group.
Additional sweet options include, clockwise from top left, Sweet Martha’s Chocolate Chip Cookies (the #1 fair food), Saltwater Taffy, Lynn’s Lefse, and French Crêpes. Savory menu items exist at the lefse and crêpe stands as well.
There is so much terrific food to enjoy at the Minnesota State Fair. So so so so so much more than I could ever cover while maintaining moderate interest from anyone. Items that didn’t make it into photos because they were so fitfully enjoyed included Walleye Cakes, Spring Rolls, and a Breakfast Burrito.
We had hoped to return this year, to try some Fried Alligator, BBQ Pork & Potato, Lamb Fries (read: testicles), and SPAM curds. Alas, these great foods will have to stick around another year or two to await our triumphant return.
Pssst: don’t forget to visit the SPAM stand!
Minnesota State Fairgrounds
1265 Snelling Ave N
St Paul, MN 55108
Twelve days of fun ending Labor Day:
August 23rd through September 3rd, 2012
6h00 – 24h00 (22h00 on Labor Day)
What’s your favorite fair food?