I visited the Texas State Fair for the first time this month!
Food we ate
Fletcher’s corny dogs: A delicious classic, we had these as a sort of brunch since we ran across a stand before the crowds and lines set in. The person in front of me used mustard to make a face on his. I tried to do a fancy zigzag of my ketchup, but either the ketchup doesn’t lend itself as well to condiment drawings or that guy was really talented with the mustard dispenser. Either way, it was delicious and gone within minutes.
Fried pumpkin pie: This tied with the Texas bluebonnet for the best unusual state fair food I tried, possibly because fried pumpkin pie ends up tasting kind of like a pumpkin empanada with whipped cream. And I love pumpkin empanadas.
Fried sriracha balls: Since I knew I’d be splitting a bunch of fried sweet food at the fair, I chose something small and savory (and still interesting!) to supplement it. These balls of shredded chicken, corn, and veggies were just a little spicy on their own, and just right for me. If you want more spiciness, try dipping them in the side of sriracha sauce.
Fried Texas bluebonnet: This tied with the fried pumpkin pie for the best unusual state fair food I tried. Despite what it might sound like, this dish is more fried flour than fried flower. It’s a fried, cream-cheese-filled blueberry muffin topped with whipped cream, white chocolate chips, and fresh blueberries. The contrasting cold tartness of the blueberry toppers with the sweet warm fried muffin made this dish.
Funnel cake ale: The novelty of this beer was that the powdered sugar rim actually went well with it. When the sugar ran out (and it did quickly since half of the rim dissolved as I walked away from the booth), the beer was OK. I wish I had had my own stash of powdered sugar so that I could have replenished the rim throughout drinking the beer.
Sutter’s Salt Water Taffy: This taffy reminded me of trips to the Strand in Galveston when I was a kid. Unlike most taffy you can get in the store, this taffy is fresh, so it’s just the right amount of chewiness without gluing your teeth together.
Food we didn’t eat
Among the buildings showcasing local artisan competitions across Texas from quilts to knitting to sculpture to canning, the food building was, of course, my favorite. Sharon BuMann’s sculptures of horses made of butter greeted us as we walked in. That has to take a lot of patience to make.
Competitors watched as judges picked their favorite baked goods.
And row upon row of jars of canned fruits and vegetables and jellies, many with ribbons, lined one wall.
With Ebola in the news, I’d heard that Big Tex would be talking about personal hygiene.
While I didn’t see that happen, I did see bottles of hand sanitizer at just about every booth.
We arrived close to opening time, so I took most of my photos at the beginning of our visit before the crowds arrived. I’d love to see this place lit up at night someday.
The state fair has way more advertising than I had expected. Some buildings felt like walking through rows of infomercials, and others felt like car dealerships. Interesting. I guess that must be a big part of what makes the state fair profitable.
One fun observation from walking through these buildings: I noticed an interesting car paint trend. It seems that baby blue with cream or silver accents has become popular, as Fiat and Scion showcased these two uncannily similar car models in unique (or so I thought) color combinations.
And returning to the subject of food we didn’t eat, the biggest surprise of the state fair was Canstruction, a charity event where competitors create sculptures out of cans that go to local hunger relief charities after being displayed and later disassembled. I don’t know if this is always a part of the state fair, but I hope it is! We thought this might be one room with two or three constructions of cans when we walked in, but we ended up walking through room after room of constructions. Amazing. Here are some of my favorites: