Minnesota State Fair – New Foods to Add to Your Traditional Favorites

August 27, 2019

If you can’t find something (from a gazillion or so food choices!) to eat at the Minnesota State Fair, you’re not doing things right.

“The Great Get-Together,” as it’s dubbed, is North America’s largest Fair based on attendance. More than 2 million people went through the gates last year, setting a new record. But attendance has a history of creeping up every year. Maybe yet another record will be set during its run this year, set for Aug. 22-Sept. 2.

The Fair has something for everyone: rides, music, grandstand shows, exhibits, cheesy items sold by interesting (to say the least) vendors, politicians, the ability to be on the set of local TV stations’ newscasts, listening live to the public radio shows, educational exhibits (so many exhibits!), arts and crafts, baked goods, flowers, canned goods, animals (many of them, including just-born ones in the Miracle of Birth building), rides, yardsticks and swag bags, and so much more (including life-sized carvings of the heads of the 11 state-wide Dairy Princesses and the Princess Kay of the Milky Way – each made from a 90-pound block of butter).

And the people-watching is amazing. When there are between 100,000 and 200,000 people at an event during any given day, you’re going to be able to see all kinds – all shapes, sizes, colors – wearing all types of clothing (sometimes, little of it). A couple of the streets have little rises and dips – during the height of the day, it literally looks like a river of people flowing and moving in front of you as far as you can see.

To many people, though, the biggest attraction is the food. There are about 300 food stands, with about 500 menu offerings throughout the Fairgrounds. Some food is healthy; some of it is over-the-top. There are two things we often say about our State Fair food – if you can put it on a stick or deep fry it (or even better, deep fry it ON a stick), you’ll find it at the Fair.

When my husband and I go to the Fair, we don’t go crazy, but we definitely eat our fair share (pun intended) of food. We have very different tastes in food, so we both end up satisfied every year. He goes for spicy – the hotter, the better. I go for not spicy. We don’t generally eat the deep fried foods (on a hot day – which it seems like it always is when we go – it doesn’t end up tasting all that great to us).

I generally stick with a few classics – a fresh-roasted ear of corn (fun fact: more than 25,000 ears of corn are roasted, slathered in butter and served at the corn roast booth each day), a cream puff filled with real Minnesota cream, a pickle dog (a pickle covered with cream cheese and wrapped in pastrami), and maybe a grilled pork chop. Before we leave for the day, we pick up a bucket of Sweet Martha’s chocolate chip cookies to take home (another fun fact: Sweet Martha’s Cookie Jar sells the most items each year, producing about 3 million cookies a day).

Each year, there are several new food items and vendors. Some of them sound pretty amazing! They are all listed below. Since even one dish can span a variety of categories, I’ve shared the food categories they might belong to (in my opinion). For example, a couple or dishes might be considered International AND deep fried AND savory. Depending on what you like, this can help you narrow down your choices among the hundreds that are available.

Just like it’s a good idea to go grocery shopping when you’re hungry (so you don’t end up with a cart of random food you had no intention of buying), it might be a good idea to put down this issue for a few minutes right now and grab a bite to eat.

Otherwise, the descriptions of these foods might cause such hunger that you end up eating this copy of SoMinn Scene. That would be bad – your tummy might hurt, and how will you remember all the wonderful foods you have every intention of trying at your visit to this year’s Fair?

 NEW FOODS:
Bada Bing Sandwich

Italian-inspired warm flatbread sandwich with ham, salami, melted mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, fresh basil and creamy balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

The Sandwich Stop, west side of Clough St. between Carnes & Judson Avenues

International, meat

Blueberry Key Lime Pie

Blueberry Key lime filling in a graham cracker crust, topped with whipped cream and fresh blueberries.

Farmers Union Coffee Shop, north side of Dan Patch Ave. between Cooper & Cosgrove Streets

Dessert, sweet

Boozy Berries & ‘Barb Trifle

Five-layer cold trifle with vanilla pound cake, lemon curd, Cannon River Gris wine and blueberry compote, more pound cake and Gris and rhubarb compote, topped with mint-infused fresh whipped cream and Gris and blueberry coulis.

The Hideaway Speakeasy, in the Veranda, Grandstand upper level, northwest section

Dessert, sweet

Breakfast Potato Skin

Deep-fried potato skin stuffed with scrambled eggs and peppers, topped with blackened beef chislic – a South Dakota bar food staple – and drizzled with bearnaise sauce.

The Blue Barn, at West End Market, south of the History & Heritage Center

Deep-fried, breakfast, meat

Carnitas Taco Cone

Carnitas with a sesame-garlic ginger sauce, cabbage, lime and queso fresco, topped with green onion and sour cream and served in a deep-fried cone-shaped tortilla.

San Felipe Tacos, in the Food Building, east wall

International, deep-fried

Carolina Pit-Smoked Brisket Taco

Beef brisket pit-smoked over hickory charcoal, shredded and topped with smoked Gouda cheese, a pickled kale crunch made with kale, Brussels sprouts, carrots, radicchio, napa and red cabbage, with a drizzle of BBQ sauce; served in a flour tortilla with tortilla chips.

Shanghaied Henri’s, at the International Bazaar, north wall

Meat, savory

Cheesy Sriracha Funnel Cake Bites

Bite-sized funnel cake pieces infused with a blend of Parmesan, Romano and mozzarella cheeses, deep-fried and finished with a sprinkle of sharp cheddar and chives, and served with homemade Sriracha aioli dipping sauce. Ranch or garlic butter dipping sauce is also available.

North side of Dan Patch Ave. between Nelson & Underwood Streets

Deep-fried, spicy

Cuban Fusion Fajita

Carnitas-style roast pork, deli-sliced ham, Swiss cheese, dill pickles and Juanita’s Fajitas’ signature mustard folded into a flour tortilla.

Juanita’s Fajitas, west of Nelson St. just south of the Grandstand

International, meat

Deep-Fried Dilly Dog

Pickle stuffed with bratwurst, dipped in batter and deep-fried.

Swine & Spuds, in the Warner Coliseum, east side

Deep-fried, meat

Duck Drummies

Duck wings coated in a batter and seasoning blend, deep-fried and served with Giggles’ own tequila lime dipping sauce.

Giggles’ Campfire Grill, southeast corner of Lee Ave. & Cooper St. at The North Woods

Deep-fried, meat, savory

Feta Bites

Deep-fried Greek pasta dough stuffed with feta cheese, cream cheese and Dino’s Greek seasoning. Served with a creamy olive tapenade.

Dino’s Gyros, north side of Carnes Ave. between Nelson & Underwood Streets

International, deep-fried, savory

Fried Tacos On-A-Stick

Two stuffed tacos – one filled with green chorizo and potatoes and one filled with a vegetarian black bean and corn mix – deep-fried, topped with crumbled cheese and a drizzle of guacamole salsa and served on-a-stick. (Aug. 28-Sept. 2 only)

Midtown Global Market’s Taco Cat, in the Taste of the Midtown Global Market booth at the International Bazaar, east wall

Deep-fried, meat, vegetarian, savory

Halo Cone

A swirled blend of cotton candy and blue raspberry soft serve ice cream in a halo of vanilla cotton candy and sprinkled with a mix of candy toppings.

Rainbow Ice Cream, in the Grandstand, upper level, east section, near the stairs tower

Dessert, sweet

The Hot Hen

BBQ chips topped with smoked pulled buffalo chicken, blue cheese fondue, pickled jalapeños, tomatoes, green onions and blue cheese crumbles.

RC’s BBQ, north side of West Dan Patch Ave. between Liggett & Chambers Streets

Meat, spicy

Irish Whiskey Boneless Wings

All-natural white chicken chunks, breaded, deep-fried, tossed in Irish whiskey BBQ sauce and garnished with chopped scallions. Gluten-free.

O’Gara’s at the Fair, southwest corner of Dan Patch Ave. & Cosgrove St.

Meat, gluten-free, deep-fried

Jamm’in Brisket Grilled Cheese

Slow-smoked brisket, red onion jam, cheddar and pepper jack cheeses and RC’s hot BBQ sauce.

RC’s BBQ, north side of West Dan Patch Ave. between Liggett & Chambers Streets

Meat, savory

Lamb T-Bone Chops

All-natural, 100% grass-fed grilled lamb loins seasoned with Mama Fatima’s Holy Land Marinade.

Holy Land, at the International Bazaar, southeast corner

International, meat

Lavender Lemonade

Pink lemonade made with fresh lavender leaves.

Farmers Union Coffee Shop, north side of Dan Patch Ave. between Cooper & Cosgrove Streets

Beverage

Mini Donut Latte

A traditional latte with house-made mini donut flavoring, whole milk and espresso topped with a dusting of cinnamon and sugar.

The Anchor Coffee House, west side of Underwood St. between Carnes & Judson Avenues outside Ramberg Music Café

Beverage

No Bologna Coney

Italian mortadella pork sausage flavored with pistachios and Mancini’s pepper blend, served on a buttered and toasted split-top bun, and topped with mild muffuletta olive and pepper salad.

Mancini’s al Fresco, north side of Carnes Ave. between Nelson & Underwood Streets

Meat, savory

Nordic Waffles in Pebbles & Bam Bam and Al Pastor varieties

Two new fresh-made waffle wraps: Pebbles & Bam Bam with warm Reese’s chocolate peanut butter cups and fruity cereal; and Waffle Al Pastor made with Mexican-style marinated pork, pineapple, onions, cilantro and salsa verde.

Nordic Waffles, at West End Market, southwest section

Breakfast, meat, dessert, savory

Peaches n’ Cream Nachos

A bed of cinnamon sugar pita chips with Bridgeman’s Peaches n’ Cream ice cream, peach topping, a drizzle of honey and crushed pecans, finished with whipped cream, a cherry and a dusting of cinnamon sugar.

Bridgeman’s Ice Cream, northeast corner of Judson Ave. & Liggett St.

Dessert, sweet

Snow Cap Mini Waffle Sundae

Mini waffle topped with a scoop of Izzy’s cream cheese ice cream, warm real maple syrup and a maraschino cherry.

Hamline Church Dining Hall, north side of Dan Patch Ave. between Underwood & Cooper Streets

Dessert, sweet

Tailspin

Tangy BBQ sauce drizzled on top of french-fried onions and fresh-made coleslaw, layered over pulled pork, elote, Oaxaca cheese and peppery spices – all on a seasoned hash brown waffle.

The Hangar, at the North End, southwest section

Meat, savory

Tipsy Pecan Tart

Pecan pie infused with Dubliner Irish Whiskey and baked in a buttery shortbread shell. Gluten-friendly.

Sara’s Tipsy Pie, in the Food Building, south wall

Gluten-friendly, dessert

Turkish Pizza

A Turkish-style cracker-thin flatbread, authentically named Lahmacun, topped with spicy minced beef, onion, tomato, lettuce, cucumber salad, parsley, fresh herbs, a squeeze of lemon and garlic sauce, then rolled or folded.

Blue Moon Dine-In Theater, northeast corner of Carnes Ave. & Chambers St.

International, meat, savory

Warm Cheesecake Tart

Cheesecake in a tart crust served warm with choice of chocolate, salted caramel or strawberry glaze or without topping.

LuLu’s Public House, at West End Market, south of Schilling Amphitheater

Dessert, sweet

NEW VENDORS:

Blue Ox Burger Bar:

  • Build-your-own burgers – hamburgers, cheeseburgers and bacon cheeseburgers (with ketchup, mustard, BBQ sauce, lettuce, onions, tomatoes, pickles and more);
  • Breakfast sandwiches (sausage or bacon with egg and cheese on a toasted English muffin);
  • Crinkle-cut fries;
  • Tater tots;
  • Assorted beverages.

Located on the southeast corner of Judson Avenue and Clough Street

Meat, breakfast, beverages

Brim:

  • Grilled Sota Sandwich (cinnamon nut butter and Minnesota blueberry marmalade served warm on gluten-free Irish soda bread);
  • Joey Mary (iced coffee slushie topped with a skewer of gluten-free baked goods);
  • Coffee slushies;
  • Brewed coffee;
  • Blueberry lemonade;
  • Mint green lemonade. Flavorings and colors made with organic and natural ingredients.

Located at the North End, northwest section

Breakfast, gluten-free, beverages, baked goods

Funky Grits:

  • Shrimp & Grits Fritters (aged cheddar grits, gulf shrimp, onions and Creole seasoning, deep-fried and served with aioli dipping sauce); gluten-free.
  • Also selling bottles of Cry Baby Craig’s hot sauce.

Located in the Food Building, east wall

Gluten-free, deep-fried, savory

Kora’s Cookie Dough:

  • Deep-fried chocolate chip cookie dough topped with powdered sugar and chocolate drizzle;
  • Cookie dough on-a-stick in five flavors: classic chocolate chip, Grandma’s sugar cookie, monster cookie, Reese’s peanut butter, and Oreo fudge.
  • All five flavors can be dipped in chocolate, white chocolate, peanut butter or butterscotch chips and rolled in sprinkles or peanuts.
  • Sugar cookie variety is vegan-friendly.

Located on south side of Dan Patch Avenue between Cooper and Cosgrove Streets

Deep-fried, dessert, sweet, vegan-friendly

iPierogi:

  • Stuffed cabbage rolls (cabbage leaves wrapped around seasoned ground pork and rice, prepared with tomato sauce and served with a dinner roll);
  • Pierogies in three varieties (meat, potato and cheese, and meat/potato/cheese combination, garnished with bacon and caramelized onion and served with sour cream and arugula on the side; vegetarian optionon request);
  • Polish sausages (with homemade sauerkraut); and
  • Blintzes (sweet cheese rolls sprinkled with powdered sugar and drizzled with chocolate syrup).

Located in the Food Building, south wall

International, savory, meat, vegetarian, dessert, sweet

Strawberries ‘n Crème:

  • Fresh strawberries with non-dairy whipped topping; and
  • Fresh-brewed iced tea with strawberry flavoring.

Located on the southwest corner of Randall Avenue & Underwood Street

Dessert, beverage

Thelma’s Handmade Ice Cream Sandwiches:

  • 10 varieties of ice cream sandwiches made with two cookies and ice cream: Snickerdoodle, chocolate chip, cayenne chocolate chip, strawberry sugar cookie, banana peanut butter, mint double chocolate chip, double chocolate chip, chocolate peanut butter, s’mores, and gluten-free snickerdoodle.

Located on the southeast corner of Judson Avenue and Underwood Street

Dessert, sweet

Is your mouth watering yet? Mine sure is! There are so many new options, and so little time. I definitely might have to try the blueberry key lime pie, the lavender lemonade, the stuffed cabbage rolls, the shrimp and grits fritters, the grilled Sota sandwich, and maybe a few more. Hmmmm … How can I fit all that in, plus my traditional tried-and-true favorites?

Maybe we’ll go to the Fair two days this year! Hope to see you there, enjoying every tasty morsel you desire.

 

Beth Forkner Moe is the Editor of Southern Minn Girlfriends Magazine, and a nonprofit/small business consultant and freelance writer. You can learn more about her at www.EnvisionItTogether.com

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