Summer is regarded by some as prime time for bright and fresh fruits and vegetables, smoky grilled meats, and the best frozen treats. But once you pass that Fourth of July threshold, the menu items of choice become shaken lemonades, fried Snickers, and anything you can serve on a stick. That’s right—it’s state fair season, and announcements of this year’s newest food offerings are being released left and right. Here’s a rundown of some of the most exciting state fair fare hitting menus this year.
Indiana State Fair
The Indiana State Fair runs from July 29 to August 21 on the fairgrounds in Indianapolis. Among this year’s new attractions are the Canine Stars Stunt Dog Show, the USA Mullet Championships, and the Inflate O’Rama Bounce ‘N’ Climb Experience.
The Taste of the Fair competition has 22 new dishes for visitors to vote on, and these are the ones that have caught our eye:
- Pickle Pizza: From Swain’s Concessions LLC, we first saw this concoction on Twitter and haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since. This slice includes a dill ranch sauce topped with mozzarella cheese, dill seasoning, and dill pickles.
- State Fair Charcuterie: Just picture all the best fair snacks artfully splayed on a single plate. This one’s got everything: mini funnel cakes, mini corn dogs, salt water taffy, cotton candy, caramel corn, popcorn, and a sprinkle of colorful candies.
- State Fair Mary: The more garnishes on a Bloody Mary, the better, so this one’s on its way to being the best. This 24-ounce cocktail is topped with waffle fries, deep-fried cheese curds, deep-fried mac n cheese, mini corn dogs, bacon, fried pickles, and a BBQ pulled pork slider.
- Sun King Caramel Corn Ale: Indianapolis-based Sun King Brewing made this limited-time beer using 100 pounds of Just Pop In Caramel Popcorn, so yeah, it’s gonna be great.
Minnesota State Fair
You can stop by the Minnesota State Fair in St. Paul, Minnesota, from August 25 through Labor Day (September 5). Here you’ll find Alice in Chains, Pitbull, and Diana Ross all taking the stage (unfortunately at separate times, though that does give us an idea for a new supergroup).
The dining area boasts 46 new menu items this year, including, yes, another pickle pizza. But if you’re all pickled out after swinging through Indiana, here’s what else to try:
- Breakfast Gnocchi: Pasta for breakfast? Why haven’t we tried this before? This morning meal features scrambled eggs, bacon, pesto cream, shallots, and balsamic glaze on top of some potato gnocchi.
- Concha Bacon Burger: Mexican sweet bread can be the perfect vessel for a spicy burger. So proves this dish, which could also be a great brunch option. Between the sliced concha you’ll get raspberry aioli, lettuce, pepper jack cheese, pickled jalapeños, and bacon.
- Molotes: This mashup is essentially a fried empanada filled with elotes. What’s not to love? (Be sure to schedule your visit for this one wisely—it’s only available August 25-30.)
- Soulsicle: If you’ve ever wanted a whole southern meal crammed into one bite, you’re in luck. The Soulsicle is fried chicken, candied yams, cornbread crumble, mac-and-cheese-seasoned cheddar, hot sauce, and green onions, all served on, yes, a stick.
State Fair of Texas
The State Fair of Texas, much like everything else in Texas, goes big. Things don’t even kick off until September 30 (as if it doesn’t want to distract us from every other fair) and lasts for 24 full days until October 23. The fair’s official mascot is even a guy named Big Tex.
The Big Tex Choice Awards honor some of the best fair food from the state before the fair even starts, and we’re already drooling over a couple of this year’s semi-finalists:
- Crispy Dilly Dog: Pickles seem to be a big state fair food trend this year, and we’re not mad. This time it’s a corn dog, not pizza, providing the inspiration: a dill pickle stuffed with a beef hotdog that’s battered in corn dog mix and fried then topped with chipotle mayo.
- Deep Fried Lasagna Roll: We don’t have to explain why this caught our attention; anything deep fried is bound to be good. And when you throw pasta mixed with ricotta, parmesan, provolone, and fresh mozzarella cheeses into the mix (then top it with meat sauce and zucchini fries) we’re all in.
- Peanut Butter Paradise: Another treat that’s dropped in the fryer. This is a deep-fried honey bun injected with caramel, layered with Reese’s pieces and Butterfinger crumbles, and topped with peanut butter cups, caramel, and powdered sugar.
- Texas Slide: These sandwiches take chicken and waffles to a whole new level. Using waffles as the buns, the inside is filled with chicken, steak, sautéed bell peppers, onions, provolone cheese, and secret sauce, topped with syrup.
Start planning your summer road trip now to scoop up these creations while you can.