Alright, I just returned to the office directly from a trip to the
Van Wert County Fair. My office is less than a mile from the
Fairgrounds, so the smells of the fair are still embedded deep in my
olfactory receptors. For the next hour or so, I will be smelling the
glorious aromas of what we know as fair food. Even those people who
claim they go to the fair for other, more noble reasons, it comes down
to the food also.
Foods we maybe shouldn’t eat, but more likely,
we wouldn’t miss. Everyone has favorites. For some, an elephant ear is
required each year. Others look forward to pork sandwiches or beef
sandwiches. Some counties have associations of pork producers who sell
at a booth. Those are never bad offerings.
I’ve visited maybe five
county fairs this year. The food that sticks in my mind as delicious is
that which I can still smell. On the list is the elephant ear or
sometimes a funnel cake. Fried dough is almost always great, but keep
the fruit toppings off of it. Fair food is not meant to have
good-for-you-fruit on it, even if the fruit is coated in oozing, sugary
goop that almost makes it truly “fair food.”
Speaking of fruit, I
will generally have a lemon shake-up at some point. I think you may be
required to buy one at the fair, check the back of your ticket to be
sure. And I know what you’re thinking, “It’s fruit. Good-for-me fruit.”
Yeah, but isn’t that something like a five-pound bag of sugar at the
bottom of each cup? It’s really a very sweet lemonade that someone had
to wrestle to make taste good. A “lemon stir-up” wouldn’t taste quite
We want some effort put into the preparation of our fair
treats! At most every fair, there are places where you can buy
deep-fried stuff. Candy bars, snack cakes, and cookies can be dipped in
batter and fried and we snack-happy fair-goers will gobble them up until
the wallet runs dry. They’ll deep fry most anything. I’ve read about
fried Kool-Aid and fried beer. I’m not really that brave — even at the
I have had the chocolate-covered bacon. That was delicious.
Haven’t seen it offered in a while. Probably there are other foods I
haven’t had in a while, but of course fair foods are rare treats,
delicacies, On my most recent round of the fair midway, I was reminded
of some favorites of myself and others.
Fried cheese is very good,
but I can only eat a certain amount of it, and I usually eat several
bites more than the amount I should eat. It happens. I must have a
milkshake whenever I pass the Farm Bureau booth at the Van Wert Fair.
They actually used to be $1, but have since jumped to $2 for a bigger
version. That’s convenient for me. Saves me having to buy two milkshakes
and pretend I bought the second one for someone else.
food that makes many people lose their minds has no real affect on me. I
know several who long daily for the vinegar fries that the folks from
Fiske sell by the truckload at area fairs, but I’ve never been a big fan
of french fries. I do like the occasional handful of fries, but vinegar
is not on my list of approved foods.
sausage sandwiches, but that’s not exactly fair food. I can get those
several days a year. There are places to get hamburgers and pie; food
that normally wouldn’t be fair food, but if a local Band Booster
organization is selling it, OK, it can be fair food. Pizza, Mexican
food, and food from local restaurants are good, but they aren’t fair
foods. I’ll eat some of that next week.
Then there is the breaded
pork tenderloin sandwich, one of my favorites. Even if a similar
sandwich is available elsewhere during the rest of the year, there is a
strong case to be made for its status as fair food. I know someone who
needed food delivered to the house locally by a family member. Fair
food. His choice for yesterday’s lunch? A breaded pork tenderloin
sandwich. I think that’s enough for it to qualify.
So if you are
close enough to stroll the midway of a county fair in the next couple of
days, have a bite of fair food: some cotton candy or a caramel apple,
an Italian sausage sandwich, a corn dog, or some vinegar fries. Then
wash it down with a milkshake. Then plan some sort of exercise program
for next week to walk it all off. You’ll be glad you did.