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10 Great State Fairs For Deep-Fried Fun (PHOTOS)

Posted: 08/20/2012 7:00 am

Hot, battered fun, fried up and served on a stick. There's no better place than a state fair to enjoy a corn dog and the dog days of summer.

But don't limit yourself to just traditional fair fare: With vendors pushing the limits of what can be deep- fried -- from Coke to ribs -- sizzling new frontiers await. After you've eaten your fill, enjoy more old-fashioned fair fun by cheering at the pig races, admiring prize Holsteins or riding the Tilt-A-Whirl.

Join the festivities at these blue-ribbon-worthy state fairs.

-- Christine Sarkis

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  • Puyallup Fair

    The Western Washington Fair, known more commonly as the <a href="http://www.thefair.com/puyallup-fair/" target="_blank">Puyallup Fair</a>, proudly claims a spot as one of the 10 largest fairs in the world. And there's sure to be plenty of food for everyone: More than 50,000 pounds of trans-fat-free shortening will be used to fry up dozens of fair favorites. <strong><em>Dates:</em></strong> September 7 through 23 <strong><em>Highlights:</em></strong> Tropical rainforest experience (complete with toucans, anacondas and geckos); the Piglet Palace (a nursery for baby pigs); Western Rodeo Parade and Cattle Drive. <strong><em>Fried-Food Lowdown:</em></strong> Deep-fried peaches and cream; deep-fried pickles; deep-fried cookie dough.

  • Minnesota State Fair

    With nearly 2 million visitors to its <a href="http://www.mnstatefair.org/" target="_blank">state fair</a> each year, it's clear that Minnesota really knows how to throw a party. The usual suspects on the fried-food front are joined by special guests, such as cranberry wontons, from some of the fair's 300 food booths. <strong><em>Dates:</em></strong> August 23 through September 3 <strong><em>Highlights:</em></strong> Giant Sing Along; BMX and skateboarding lessons; Luminarium (an 11,000-square-foot inflatable sculpture with domes and tunnels full of light and color). <strong><em>Fried-Food Lowdown:</em></strong> Cranberry wontons; eggplant fries; gluten-free risotto poppers; red velvet funnel cakes.

  • Iowa State Fair

    It may be one of the oldest and largest <a href="http://www.iowastatefair.org/" target="_blank">state fairs</a> in the country, but Iowa keeps it fresh and quirky with funny contests and, of course, the annual butter cow. Fried offerings range from traditional to mind-bending. Fried butter, we're looking at you. <strong><em>Dates:</em></strong> August 9 through 19 <strong><em>Highlights:</em></strong> Duck-, hog- and husband-calling contests; life-sized cow sculpture made of butter (an Iowa State Fair tradition since 1911); outhouse races; grape stomping. <strong><em>Fried-Food Lowdown:</em></strong> Caribbean-style crab fritters; German chocolate funnel cakes; deep-fried pickle "dawgs"; fried butter; Unicorn Lollipops (which we're assuming are named based on shape and not ingredient).

  • State Fair of Texas

    Like the stars at night, this <a href="http://www.bigtex.com/sft/index.asp" target="_blank">state fair</a> deep in the heart of Texas promises to be "big and bright." And with a reputation as the unofficial fried-food capital of Texas, get ready to sample some pretty unusual offerings. <strong><em>Dates:</em></strong> September 28 through October 21 <strong><em>Highlights:</em></strong> Chinese lantern festival; auto show and test track; The Picasso of Pumpkin Carvers (some call him Farmer Mike); pig races; Peewee Stampede (a mock rodeo for kids, complete with stick horses and bulls). <strong><em>Fried-Food Lowdown:</em></strong> Deep-fried biscuits and gravy; deep-fried Southern Hospitality (in this case, pork, collard greens and cornbread); double-fried tacos; deep-fried brownies; fried Samoas (Girl Scout cookies).

  • Kentucky State Fair

    With bluegrass roots and more than 100 years of tradition behind it, the <a href="http://www.kystatefair.org/home/default.aspx" target="_blank">Kentucky State Fair</a> still manages to please both the young and old. After all, who can resist the one-two punch of miniature horses and funnel cakes? <strong><em>Dates:</em></strong> August 16 through 26 <strong><em>Highlights:</em></strong> World's Championship Horse Show; miniature horse show; ugly lamp contest; rooster-crowing contest; War of 1812 exhibition. <strong><em>Fried-Food Lowdown:</em></strong> Hush puppies; funnel cakes; elephant ears.

  • Colorado State Fair

    Happy 140th birthday, <a href="http://www.coloradostatefair.com/" target="_blank">Colorado State Fair</a>! With cage fighting and a demolition derby on the calendar this year, you're the orneriest supercentenarian we've ever seen. <strong><em>Dates:</em></strong> August 24 through September 3 <strong><em>Highlights:</em></strong> Rodeo; Pet Rock Olympics; salsa cook-off; Foam Fest 2012 (annual beer festival). <strong><em>Fried-Food Lowdown:</em></strong> Fried green tomatoes; deep-fried Oreos; bloomin' onions.

  • Oklahoma State Fair

    <a href="http://okstatefair.com/" target="_blank">Oklahoma's state fair</a> invites folks down for some homegrown fun this September. And food-on-a-stick connoisseurs can indulge in a corn-dog tasting with not one but three varieties to choose from. <strong><em>Dates:</em></strong> September 13 through 23 <strong><em>Highlights:</em></strong> AGtropolis (a mock city with interactive exhibits and demonstrations); barnyard birthing center; bull-riding competitions; Disney on Ice. <strong><em>Fried-Food Lowdown:</em></strong> Deep-fried Creole sausages; deep-fried cheese; deep-fried manicotti; deep-fried mashed potatoes; three types of corn dogs: regular dogs, poncho dogs with sweeter batter and waffle dogs with waffle batter.

  • New Mexico State Fair

    New Mexico's is a <a href="http://exponm.com/" target="_blank">state fair</a> with some Southwestern flair, a place where you'll find jalapeno cornbread cook-offs and squash-blossom necklace showdowns. And, of course, green chile corn dogs. <strong><em>Dates:</em></strong> September 12 through 23 <strong><em>Highlights:</em></strong> Lego-building competition; antique car show; horse show; rodeo and rodeo concert series; small-scale working farm (where kids can get a taste of rural life). <strong><em>Fried-Food Lowdown:</em></strong> Deep-fried Twinkies; deep-fried cheesecake; fried frog legs; deep-fried racks of ribs; donut burgers; regional specialties including green chile corn dogs and Navajo tacos (traditional fry bread with beans, meat and green chiles).

  • Kansas State Fair

    See pigs fly at the <a href="http://www.kansasstatefair.com/" target="_blank">Kansas State Fair</a>! Or at least fly down a racetrack at the daily pig races. Forget birthday cake; instead, celebrate the 100th official state fair this year with some fried Kool-Aid. <strong><em>Dates:</em></strong> September 7 through 16 <strong><em>Highlights:</em></strong> Arm-wrestling championships; auctioneers' bid-calling competition; pig races; Horsepalooza. <strong><em>Fried-Food Lowdown:</em></strong> Fried pineapple; fried Kool-Aid; deep-fried Thin Mints; deep-fried turkey legs.

  • Indiana State Fair

    Indiana's is the country's sixth-oldest <a href="http://www.in.gov/statefair/" target="_blank">state fair</a>, dating all the way back to 1852. That's way before deep-fried Snickers bars were invented. <strong><em>Dates:</em></strong> August 3 through 19 <strong><em>Highlights:</em></strong> A pavilion packed with native Indiana foods; SuperDogs canine tricks show; an extreme trampoline performance; the chance to milk a cow; tractor pulls; IndyMile Motorcycle Race. <strong><em>Fried-Food Lowdown:</em></strong> Cheese Squared (breaded and fried cheese-wrapped cheese); deep-fried Snickers; the 2012 official signature food of the fair: spaghetti ice cream, consisting of spaghetti-shaped gelato, strawberry sauce, shaved white chocolate and chocolate "meatballs."


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