For the second consecutive year, we embarked on a massive six-hour marathon trek across the fairgrounds of the Minnesota State Fair, ingesting somewhere between 6,000 and 10,000 calories along the way. Here’s a rundown of the wild cornucopia of fried and sugar-doused deliciousness.
The spiritual journey of the Fair food gauntlet actually begins the night before when you go to bed a little earlier than normal. Then you awake at the break of dawn, brush your teeth, hydrate, and out into the world.
Our journey took place on Sunday, September 1. Turns out, this day ended up setting a Labor Day Sunday attendance record at 245,243. That’s a lot of people. And I’d bet that every single one of them ate at least three variations of a fried food and/or cookie.
We dove right in, so will I.
This staple of our fair-going experience is how we kick off the day. It’ll tell you where you’re at right away. massive potato slices, deep fried, drenched in ranch and nacho cheese. Ranch isn’t for me, but the nacho cheese was good with me. No idea what makes them Australian and I don’t care. Will eat again next year.
Duh. These were extremely popular with half of our group, the other half wasn’t that thrilled. Still, this new food item checks the boxes. Lots of sweet and a mix of textures between crunch, whipped, fruit, and ice cream. It was nice to wait all the way until our second food item of the trek before diving into the sweet.
At this point, the order gets a little blurry, so I’ll do my best to go in order, but regardless, I’ll hit on everything we tried.
Sweet Martha Cookies
If there were ever going to be a central figure of a fictitious mob-style action flick set at the Minnesota State Fair, Sweet Martha would be the kingpin. Three locations, millions of dollars in revenue and millions of cookies served. We had the small cup early on to get a taste of the good stuff before the lines got too long, but also went back through and got a bucket to go before leaving. If you don’t get the cookies, you’re either on dietary restrictions or hate life.
Bleu Cheese Corn Fritters
Have to be honest, don’t remember which vendor has these, but we had them last year and they were very good. Equally good this year, wouldn’t mind having them every year. Very solid.
Nashville Hot Chicken On-A-Stick
The Blue Barn has a lot of good stuff, it’s actually where I thought the fritters also came from, but I got the chicken. It wasn’t that hot, didn’t care for the hot sauce. The chicken was good, liked their choice of crunch for “breading” going with Corn Flakes or something of that nature and the pickles were a good addition. Probably wouldn’t wait in line for this one next year, but some protein was a nice mix to start the day.
This might be the name of the stand, just had a taste of one and it was enough. I think it’s good, but I don’ mind if we miss it.
Corn on the Cob
Really, really, really good. Love the corn on the cob. If were weren’t on a mission to try everything on our list, I probably would have lingered here for another ear or two. One of the biggest draws at the fair, totally worth it.
Shrimp and Grits Fritters
Didn’t notice anything “shrimp” in it and the grits were very Cream of Wheat. At least one person in our group seemed to love this one, but it was a dud for several of us.
Big Fat Bacon
Very fatty, a little more lean would have been very nice. So much fat that even eating a bit of it, left a huge portion of it behind. The flavor was fantastic. Texture was also good. Only drawback was not wanting to feel like you were eating a huge stick of pig fat (which is in fact exactly what you were doing).
Sriracha Cheese Funnel Cake Bites
New item this year, not that big of a thing for me. I tried one piece, but I’m really not into mayo-based dipping sauces so it wasn’t for me. Was hoping for something more along the lines of the funnel cake bites with cheese and Sriracha, sans mayo. Wouldn’t go back for these again.
Strawberries and Cream
New vendor/item. Was fantastic. The whipped cream was delightful and who could hate a strawberry? Would eat it again for sure. It was also at a place on the grounds where it was far enough from our other stops that we could enjoy something light while we got our steps in.
Giant Egg Roll
Don’t remember which vendor this was, but it was amazing. Was afraid it was going to be a pound of cabbage or something like that. Fortunately, it was a largely pork center on a skewer. Despite size, it was cooked through and tasted real nice. Would probably eat it again next year.
These were fine. It’s certainly not as good as a straight up crab cake, but take what you can get I suppose. I could go either way on getting these again. Probably skip them on get real crab cakes somewhere other than the fair.
Hot Hen Nachos
New item from RC’s BBQ, this packed some real heat. The pulled chicken, jalapeños, bleu cheese, and scallions were real good with or without the BBQ kettle chips. Absolutely would eat them again next year.
Jamm’in Brisket Grilled Cheese
Two? Two! From RC’s BBQ. This was better than the nachos and better than almost every other item on this list. The sandwich was a hit with everyone in our group and we probably could have ordered a few extra and still packed them away despite all the other consumption. If they bring this back for next year, will be waiting in line for at least one.
The Wingwalker Donut Flight
Got these at The Hangar. Mini glazed donuts. Loved it. The serving came with Bavarian creme, chocolate custard, and lingonberry jam dipping sauces. Pretty sure it’s only supposed to come with one, but we opted to get all three. These were a HUGE hit.
Don’t even know the name of the stand, but we hit the same stand on the way to The Hangar every year to get cheese curds. Personally, I ate over half of them by myself so clearly I loved them. It’s a traditional stopping point for us and I guarantee you can find me there again next year.
You’ve had a frosty from Wendy’s, yeah? Okay, so imagine a BIGGER version of that. That’s the Kiwanis malt. Exactly same texture and flavor, just better. It’s also far enough away from everything else we were there to get that it was perfectly timed.
Kora’s Cookie Dough On-A-Stick
Yeah, this ruled. Was super rich and we couldn’t get anywhere near finishing it, even as a group. They had five flavor options - I opted for the Reese’s Pieces cookie dough. Basically, it’s just three unbaked cookies stacked on top of each other on a stick.
Kora’s Deep Fried Cookie Dough
I think Kora’s is one of the new vendors this year. Imagine little spring rolls, but instead of vegetables inside, you get cookie dough! Also think they were powdered and chocolate syrup drizzled? Yeah, I think so. These were smaller, sold as 3 or 5 and perfect to split in a group. We at them the same time as the cookie dough on the stick and…
Blueberry Key Lime Pie
The Farmer’s Union seems to come up with really good stuff each year. This year, they pulled off my second favorite food item of the whole fair. I love lime in general, but key lime pie is the best. Add in the blueberry component and you’ve got a winner. It’s one of the very few items on this list that I would have eaten entirely on my own, even after all the other food I consumed. In fact, I’m pretty sure I did eat more than a whole pie (our group got two of these). I really hope they have these again next year because I want more.
Apple Cider Icee
Exactly what it says. Just apple cider frozen which is perfect and maybe one of the best treats since it’s low on sweet and no excessive sugar. Only gave it a try, but had it been about 5-10 degrees warmer during our trip, I probably would have bought at least two for something nice to “hydrate” with and stay cool the whole while.
Taco Cat Deep Fried Taco
Veggie taco, deep fried and garnished. Had a whole one bite. It was great, but I’m not seeking it out on my own.
Jamaican Beef Patties
Had some heat to these. Was really good. If we hadn’t had this right near the end of the trip after ALL the other food, I probably couldn’t have eaten the entire thing on my own.
Holy Land Beef Koobedeh Dinner
This was my favorite item hands down. It was the last thing I bought and it immediately let me know I had far exceeded the limit of food I should have permitted to enter my body. I couldn’t finish all the rice, but the rolled beef koobedeh was tender and well seasoned and I wish I lived near Holy Land so that I could eat this for dinner every day. It’s perfect and maybe something I wish I would have eaten earlier in the day to either force me to slow down on the sugar snacks or at least satiate me. Amazing. Hungry for it even right now.
So there you go. 25 things were on the list that we tried. I skipped on the lamb t-bone, tipsy pecan pie, all the beers, and the deep fried candy bars, but as you can see, I still ate way more than any one human should have access to. We also tried a few coffee-based drinks that were special this year, but I didn’t recall which those were, though it was clear there was no good coffee being made at the fair so naturally it was just sugar and cream dumped in heaps. Delicious.
Naturally, we’ll go and do it all again next. I’ll try to take more pictures of the food next year.