I’m a fair and festival girl through and through. Growing up in South Jersey, summers were all about fairs and festivals – Italian Festivals, Puerto Rican Festivals, Harvest Festivals, Dandelion Festivals, you name it – there was a festival for it. So it surprises me a bit that in all of my time living in Ohio (on and off for 14 years now!) I’ve only been to the Ohio State Fair once in that whole time. Unfortunately, that one time was several years ago when I was much heavier and much less ambulatory, so I didn’t get to see a lot of it. So in many ways, this was my first time to *really* experience the fair.
We decided to go on a weekday afternoon, hoping that the crowds would be minimal because everyone would be at work – and in a way, we were right. It was crowded, but not crazy crowded like it was the last time I went. Getting off at the 17th Street exit and parking was zero problems whatsoever. And we had enough forethought to buy our tickets at Kroger ($6 for admission instead of $10 at the gate), so we didn’t have to wait in any lines at a ticket booth to enter.
There was one booth in particular I was looking for – it was the one thing I had previously that had stuck in my mind. I had to hoof it through most of the fairgrounds to find it (as it was at the opposite gate from where we were parked), but ahead, in the distance (OK, right in front of me…), I saw the holy grail:
If you’ve never had the Inky Dinky donuts, you have no idea what you’re missing. Little donuts hot from the fryer, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. They practically melt in your mouth. I still maintain it was the best thing I ate all day.
You see, the fair has nothing to do with eating healthy. It’s a celebration of gluttony and excess, a day where one indulges in forbidden food and doesn’t feel guilty about it. It’s a big fat cheat day for everyone. If it can be fried, it will be – the two major themes of the day are deep fried (insert food here) and (insert food here) on a stick. This next one encompassed both, so I’m guessing it’s doubly unhealthy. Can’t tell what it is by looking at it, can you? Fried stuff on a stick all looks alike, trust me. It could be anything – a deep fried pickle, a corn dog, but the powdered sugar on top gives it away…
It’s Deep Fried Milky Way on a Stick! It is, I assure you, as evil as it sounds. Even sharing it with my husband, we both nearly went into sugar shock. The chocolate bar melted to a gooey mass that is as decadent as it sounds. But it gets cloying. I could eat half of one of these, once a year, tops. Way too rich for my blood.
After all that sugar, I wanted something savory to help offset the sweet. We walked around for a while, so I could check out all the options. By this time, I was fried food out for the most part, and wanted to find something that was *remotely* healthy (don’t be alarmed, health aficionados, I know it isn’t really healthy, per se, not with skin on the chicken and butter on the corn, but it was among the healthier options at the fair.). Remotely is the key word there, and I chose some BBQ chicken and next door to Gabby’s (the BBQ place), we picked up some roasted corn. I could eat corn for hours, and this was darn near perfect.
Paul had Pork on a Stick, which was a bit dry, but flavorful.
And the last thing we ate at the fair also rocked my world – fair fries. I don’t know what it is about fair fries, but they’re so damn good. Even better sprinkled liberally with salt and sprayed with some malt vinegar. My mouth is watering just on the recollection.
Early on, we ran into Bethia, who writes the Hungry Woolf food blog, and we walked with her down to the Ohio Proud tent, where she got a chocolate milk float. It didn’t sound very good at the time (heat + dairy = not my idea of a good time), but in retrospect (and this picture), it looks like it was quite refreshing.
Some things at the fair don’t sound like they’d be good at all. For example, roast beef sundae? I get what they’re doing, but it just sounds like it would be a hot mess.
The hardest part, I think, was trying to decide what kind of meat to get. These turkey legs sure looked tempting.
And if I could of parked myself in front of this hog and had them feed me cracklins (my favorite part of a roast pig) I would have been in heaven. But alas, the hog was still roasting.
And a couple of other food sights at the fair:
I’m a bit surprised that I didn’t get a funnel cake, considering I love them so. I think it’s because I had one last week at the Franklin County Fair (more about that in another post), and it’s one of those things that you lose the craving for once you’ve had it.
I didn’t go on any rides (was afraid that my big self still would have issues with fitting), but I’m hoping that by next year I’ll have lost enough weight that I’ll be brave enough to give it a try.
We’re planning on stopping back one more time before the fair ends on Sunday. We’d like to check out the agricultural buildings and do a few other things. Have you gone yet? If so, what discoveries did you make that I shouldn’t miss?