Monday, April 15, 2013

2013 Fair Food Challenge

Photo: Spaghetti Eddie's super sticks (pepperoni and cheese battered and fried; photo courtesy Minnesota State Fair)

Food on a stick: it's the fair's ultimate cliche. The way people talk about it, you'd think that you can't even buy a cup of coffee without the cup somehow perilously perched on the end of skewer. But, stereotype of not, we all know that food on a stick IS the ultimate fair food. And the numbers are now there to prove it. In 2012, the Minnesota State Fair Foundation reported that of 500 food types available at the fair, an amazing 70 of them came served on a stick! 

And that, dear hungry reader, brings us to our 2013 Fair Food Challenge. How many foods on a stick can YOU eat during the 2013 Minnesota State Fair? Are you the type to stick to the tried-and-true classics, or will you be chasing the newest exotic food-on-a-stick offerings? I can't promise a prize, but let me know how many different types of food-on-a-stick you manage this fair season (no need to do all 70 in one day!) and you can at least get some public bragging rights.

And yes, I know it's only April -- I'm issuing this challenge now so that you have time to plan your dining schedules and stretch out those stomach muscles. Just don't blame me if you find that your training sessions also lead to the need to stretch out your waistbands. 

See you at the fair!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Meet (Meat?) Your Sausage Match

09.02.11 - 117

Browsing the meat competition entrants at the Minnesota State Fair will inevitably leave you with the impression that there is literally a sausage or piece of processed meat out there for anyone. (Well, perhaps the vegetarians among us will have to broaden our search parameter beyond the meat refrigerators.) These 2011 offerings, for example, entered by Steve’s  Meat Market of Ellendale, Minnesota, included pepper jack sticks, cranberry sticks, apple cinnamon breakfast sausages, garlic ring bologna, and hickory smoked apple cinnamon bacon, among other options.

Steve’s Smokey Acres, for the uninitiated, is run by the mother-and daughter team of Rachel Lee and Donnavon Eaker (the business gets its name from the late Steve Eker)  and they have racked up an impressive array of industry prizes, including the Minnesota Association Processors’ top award in the specialty snack stick division for their cranberry sticks.

If you want some specialty snack sticks of your own, the market sells directly to the public. They are located approximately 84 miles south of the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, in the heart of tiny Ellendale, Minnesota (about 15 minutes south of Owatonna and 15 minutes north of Albert Lea). While you’re there make sure to congratulate them on their 40th anniversary!