by Roy Hodge
I went to the State Fair a couple of times this year because I grew up with the Fair in Syracuse and have been going since I could walk. I’ve only missed a couple of times since then, the latest two years ago when I couldn’t walk after I fell and injured my knee.
I don’t think my Fair agenda has changed throughout the years since the times I went each year with my father. When I visit the Fair I walk, I see what’s going on in many of the buildings, I watch the people, and I eat…and eat…and eat. When I am with my wife, I visit every animal in every barn.
In the early years of my Fair adventures, I’m sure that my father kept me happy with some cotton candy, maybe an ice cream cone, a cookie or two and a box of popcorn.
Through the years, I have had my favorite Fair foods. I’m sure that I was driven by the wonderful aroma wafting over the Fairgrounds to try my first Italian sausage sandwich with peppers and onions many years before Bill and Hillary discovered them – and haven’t gone to the Fair without having one since.
Before food at the Fair meant everything you could think of deep-fried, I loved deep-fried “apple flips” (or fritters) and enjoyed them from the horticultural building every year.
There were years when I looked forward to very special French fried potatoes served in paper cones from Orange trucks on the midway. Twin Trees pizza is a must for me every year, usually within minutes inside the gate.
Pizza Frittes and Sugar Waffles are favorites, and after years of eating at the Fair, I tried something new this year – chocolate covered bacon on a stick. Bacon and chocolate are two of my favorite tastes, but…together on a stick, not unlike a popsicle…that may take some getting used to.
Other new-to-me food items include a beef sundae and a pork parfait, featuring mashed potatoes and gravy or barbecue sauce along with the meat, topped with a cherry tomato – in a sundae dish.
It might be hard to think that hunks of alligator meat, deep-fried and put on a skewer, will become a Fair favorite, but that choice, along with shark and kangaroo, has been added to the Fair menu.
It’s good to have choices. Variety is the spice of life — especially at the State Fair — but one of my favorite summer and Fair foods, and usually the first thing I have to eat at the Fair, is a hot dog, tucked in a bun and slathered with mustard. One bite and I know I’m at the Fair.
I guess I may have said it all in the first column I wrote about my Fair adventures back in 1979: “I have been anticipating my annual visit to the New York State Fair for several weeks now. The primary attraction for me doesn’t lie in the star-studded grandstand shows, or the ride-packed midway, or the animal barns, or the horticultural displays, or ‘Black Jack,’ billed as ‘10,000 hamburgers on the hoof’, or the peddlers pushing their wares in the Center of Progress building. My Fair-time weakness can be summed up in one word – Food.”
As you can imagine, I have written about the State Fair (and its food) more than a few times.
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