The rain held off on Monday night allowing us to check out the State Fair for a relatively quiet evening. The people watching was still fantastic. We watched one old lady in a scooter repeatedly hit a movable fence as she tried to master her machinery. This was only after she yelled out, in her 40-years-of-smoking voice “where’s my keys” at her grandson. She later found them in her own pocket.
But while the people watching is great, we go for the food. Maybe we check out the animals or what’s this year’s magic mop, but always…the food!
Randy and I challenged ourselves not to go with the standards – for him, a pork chop sandwich, for me a baked potato and corn on the cob. This challenge didn’t stop us from filling ourselves silly though!
Upon arrival, we started off as you must start off when you are at the WISCONSIN State Fair – with the deep-fried cheese curds and a fresh-made lemonade from the big truck with the cartoon mouse on it. And friends, spend the 50 cents on the ranch dressing. It will be the second best pair of quarters you’ll spend all evening.
Next up, we visited the Wisconsin Product Pavilion. Is it just me or was this building a little empty this year? I thought the standing tables right over garbage cans were brilliant, but it didn’t seem like there were that many options. As previously mentioned, I stayed away from the WI Potato Growers booth, which left Palermo’s pizza (I know you’re local, but come on…), a reuben sandwich from Jake’s which Randy almost got, and a piece of cherry pie. Well, if I must, I must. And I must with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
The pie was good, not great. Mostly, it just needed to be heated, but the pastry also needed a little something. Perhaps a little more flake or crunch? The pie filling was exceptional though. I could have just had a bowl of that and been happy. (And yes, our second course was dessert. It’s European…or something…)
Fun fact: fried stuff does not photograph well. Fried balls of brown stuff photographs even less well. So trust me that the deep-fried stuffing balls from Rupena’s is worth trying as long as you don’t look at it. The balls themselves are just as they sound. They are served with a little cup of gravy. Once dipped, this dish is super salty, making it a perfect time for a beer and/or “that’s what she said” jokes.
The big sign next to the big slide lured me in. Potato pancakes – doesn’t that sound good?! I just had to try, but sad trombone… This was probably my biggest disappointment of the night. I haven’t had many potato pancakes in my life, but I remember them being more potato than pancake. This was the opposite. German friends – what is the proper ratio of potato to pancake batter?
Oh gawd, my belly hurts just looking at this picture. I literally couldn’t watch Randy as he tried this new delicacy. I saw three years at the end of his life fade into the distance as he munched on this gut bomb from the Machine Shed. The restaurant behind chocolate-covered bacon, this year had “spicy pork candy”, a cheeseburger on a Krispie Creme donut, and this “Fry Dog”, a corn dog rolled in fries and then deep-fried. There is not enough ketchup in the world to make this appetizing to me. Randy gave it a B+ for novelty, but said it’s a reason it’s novel and not an old stand-by. Ugh. I need to go sit down now just from writing about it.
It was time for dessert, but there was no way Randy could jump right in at this point, so we walked around for a bit, checking out what non-food activities were on the grounds. Well, kind of. I made Randy go through the horticulture building where we saw our friend Michelle’s award-winning quilt (yah, Michelle!) and all of the prize-winning food stuffs submitted by amateurs. One of these years I’m going to submit something. I just need to create some original recipes!
After this walk, it was time to visit the Herb Kohl milk booth, where we tried chocolate (ah, duh) and cherry vanilla flavors. There was potential to the cherry vanilla, but there was too much imitation vanilla flavor in the mix. The chocolate was fantastic. Though, even for a quarter for a cup, how could you possibly screw up chocolate milk?
If you are like us and not in love with the cream puff (blasphemous, I know…), then you need to check out the other end of that building. There are bakeries and fudge and ice cream and candies and all the chocolate-y things to munch on down there that are so, so yummy. Every year, Randy gets his monster cookie. No, it’s not a big cookie (well, they aren’t small cookies), but it is a cookie sandwich with frosting to represent a muppet or cartoon. This year they had a new one, which I think was supposed to be Leela from Futurama. It was purple frosting…does anything else matter?
I ended up with two M&M cookies from the same bakery, but took them home as a late night snack. This was just the carrot I needed to be able to walk back out to the car with the new blisters on my feet!
I was wandering the building trying to figure out what I would have for dessert when Randy got this. By the time I got back, this is what I found. Yep, this bakery from Racine is that good. Snarfable cookies – what more does one need in life?!
We wanted to make sure and hit at least one animal building before we left. This year we picked the sheep. Pro tip – always pick the sheep building. They are guaranteed to make you laugh. This year they were so funny because they were all in coats! Some fancy coats, some super-tight, racing singlet coats, some in KKK hooded coats, and some in coats like this poor guy. I think he’s confused about who he is supposed to be in this world. Sure, he was born on a farm in Chilton, Wisconsin, but he really feels like he was meant to belong to a family in the wilds of Africa (well, the wilds of Africa that still have FABULOUS accessories!)
P.S. “Sheep in Coats” is going on my list of potential band names.
P.P.S. In case you were wondering, as I was, the sheep were not in coats because it was cold. They were in coats in an effort to keep them clean after the day’s bath. I guess this makes it “Sheep in Robes” more than “Sheep in Coats”.
Another fun night had the State Fair. Another night walking out wondering how I’m able to consume so many calories yet wake up the next morning hungry. Another night wondering where in the heck to these people live the rest of the year.
Have you gone to the fair yet? What is your go-to food stop or your favorite new thing this year?