Summer is state fair season, and even though there are no state fairs this year because of the pandemic, American ingenuity has insured that people will still be able to get fried food on sticks, because that’s the kind of nation we are.
For the past four weekends, Wisconsinites could drive through State Fair Park in Milwaukee and get their favorite state fair foods to go. The vendors and menus changed from week to week (for my money, the most promising week was Week 2, which featured cheese curd tacos and waffles on a stick), but even if you wanted one specific thing, like buffalo cheese curds, you would have to drive through the entire route from the entrance to the exit, pulling off at the various vendors before merging back onto the main thoroughfare. Still, those of us in The Takeout’s Chicago bureau were curious enough that we considered driving up to Milwaukee to experience this glory for ourselves, but we were deterred once we learned that previous visitors were recommending that everyone come in with a full tank of gas.
Cheeseheads are doughty and resilient people, though, and apparently don’t mind spending lots of time in their cars. Yesterday the state fair revealed the final stats for the State Fair Food Drive-Thru, which were duly reported by CBS58 news in Milwaukee: 58,456 vehicles altogether. People in these vehicles bought 202,000 cream puffs (such a Wisconsin State Fair classic that the 5K is named for it), 16,000 Blue Ribbon Brownies, 10,000 slices of dill pickle pizza, and 18,000 cups of lemonade. (Beer, the official Wisconsin state beverage, was not sold, for obvious reasons; it was unreported whether people brought their own to sip on while they waited.) In addition, 1,200 Wisconsin Products Pavilion boxes were shipped out to homesick cheeseheads in 44 states.
Traditionalists who insist on experiencing state fairs as God intended them, by admiring the agricultural achievements of the state’s farmers, were also served: Agriculture Demonstrations Series online videos received 6,200 views. (It just occurred to me that it is deeply ironic that an institution originally designed to highlight agricultural products has become a celebration of processed food.) Unfortunately, there were no agricultural or animal competitions this year except for honey, which will be accepting entries by mail until the end of October.