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Sunday, October 16, 2011

The 2011 Arkansas State Fair Food Guide.

This is it.  Take along this handy guide with you to the Arkansas State Fair to find all the crazy, weird and wonderful fair foods.

Candy and Caramel Apples.  The best candy apples come from the Colonial Nut Roll Folks inside the Hall of Industry.  They lay the thick red sugar coating on tight.  Caramel and Caramel-Nut Apples are also available here too -- the easiest to eat, though, is the Caramel Apple Slices in a Bowl.

Fried Bacon Cream Cheese Balls.  These are tempura battered savory bombs of goodness that should see a lot of popularity with fair goers.  Like their cousin the Bacon Cream Cheese Bomb (also sold at Hot Wisconsin Cheese) they’re cream cheese that has been infused with pieces of bacon, but the smaller portions will encourage sharing.

Battered and Deep Fried Bacon on a Stick.  It's like a corndog... but... well, it's bacon.  I don't know how they manage to get the bacon to stay so straight, but it's a decent sized piece of bacon under that batter.  Comes out extra crispy.  Find it at L and M Concessions, where you'll also find Cheeseburger on a Stick.

BBQ Parfait.  It’s a meal in a cup -- layers of baked beans, mashed potatoes, smoked pork butt and barbecue sauce served up with a spoon.  Easy to eat on the Midway yet substantial enough to be a full meal in itself.  You'll find it at Smoke Stack BBQ at the end of the Midway, the red trailer in sight of the Swine Facility.

BBQ Pork Sandwiches.  Available at Smoke Stack BBQ with an Oklahoma-style thickish sauce or over at Gold's Boss Hog with a spicier blend.

Beef Brisket Sandwiches.  Mickey's Grill is bringing serious meat to the fair, and this is one of many examples.  The well-flavored smoked beef brisket sandwich is a handful of meaty goodness that you can have with barbecue sauce or without.  A two-hander.  You’ll find it at Mickey's on the northwest corner of the big Food Court intersection.

Beer Butt Chicken.  The best thing to have at the fair quadrupled with a Coke, but grilled and not deep fried. (Sorry, I felt the need to make a Blues Brothers reference there).  Back from last year.  You'll find yours at Gold's Boss Hog.

Bigmouth Burgers.  The best you're going to find at the Arkansas State Fair are located at Mitch's Grill just east of the Swine Facility in the big gray building.  Grilled right in front of your eyes, these are thick half pound patties spiced just right with salt and pepper and served up on

buttered buns with your choice of condiments, vegetation.  American cheese is used here.  These burgers could stand against some of the state's best any day of the week.

Fried Butter.  Okay, here’s another idea from other fairs that has arrived in Arkansas somewhat adulterated.  Yes, it’s fried butter -- but instead of being a sweet butter like the cherry butter and cinnamon honey sugar butter at the Texas State Fair, this is literally a stick of butter that’s been battered like a corndog and deep fried (these are half-size versions).  What you get is a half-melted stick of butter in the middle of a mass of cornmeal -- or, you could look at it as a big piece of cornbread on a stick with the butter in the middle.  You’ll find it at the Steakhouse booth right next to the Hall of Industry.

Cabritas Wraps.  Yes, they’re back.  These scrumptious tortillas full of shredded goat meat are one of the healthiest foods of the Arkansas State Fair.  The goat is roasted rather than deep fried, and goat is typically lower in fat than other meat on the hoof.   Find it at the Feed Trough back down by the Rabbit Barn.

Fried Candy Bars.  Snickers are of course the big favorite, but there are also Milky Way bars, too.  Find them at Grater Tater in the Food Court.

Celery and Carrot Sticks.  Am I serious?  Yes I am.  Served up with Ranch Dressing, this is the perfect side dish to go with all those wings (spicy or not) offered at the Silver Bullet Saloon over by the Hall of Industry (it's the big red pavilion).

Cherry Covered Chocolates.  The next logical progression beyond Fried Oreos and Fried Kool-Aid, these are Oreo cookies that have been dipped in funnel cake batter infused with Cherry Kool-Aid, deep fried and sprinkled with sugar.  I was very surprised to find they were not only palatable but addictive, and they're one of my top choices for best new fair food this year.  Find them at the Fried Dough Booth along the Midway.

Fried Cheese.  Boy, you can find fried cheese a lot of places, but you can’t find it done in any greater number of combinations than what you’ll find at Hot Wisconsin Cheese.  This year the stand is on the Gate 5 side entrance of the Food Court, and there will likely be a line.  Among the many options available are Cheddar, Swiss, Mozzarella and Jalapeno Cheese.  The Jalapeno Cheese is a white cheese with embedded peppers that has a late and strong heat to it.

Cheeseburger on a Stick.  Yes, that's cheese within ground beef within a corndog.  Yes, it's good.  Dip it in ketchup and be happy.  At L and M Concessions on the south side of the Food Court.

Chicken and Beef Kebabs.  You can’t get more meaty than meat, right?  Mickey's Grill is cooking up nicely spiced Chicken Kebabs and Beef Kebabs at their stand inside the Food Court.  You’ll smell and hear the sizzling meat from a distance.  These folks use their own spices to offer a great meat-on-a-stick experience.

Chicken Doughnut Sandwich.  It’s exactly what it sounds like -- a chicken breast served up on a sliced doughnut.  Instead of mustard or mayo, it comes with a raspberry sauce for a condiment.  Sweet and savory at the same time.  Find yours at L and M Concessions, the trailer serving up Cheeseburger on a Stick on the south side of the Food Court.

Chinese Food.  There is indeed, as there has always been, a stand for Chinese Food at the Arkansas State Fair.  When I was still in single digits I recall how unique and rare it was to get an egg roll anywhere.  These days Chinese restaurants are everywhere, but you can still get your Potstickers, Lo Mein or General Tso's Chicken at the Chinese and American Food trailer on the Midway near Gate 1.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Bites.  Decadently rich, this is definitely something to share with the chocolate lovers in your life.  They're back for a second round at Hot Wisconsin Cheese.

Chocolate Funnel Cake Sundae.  It actually has another name, I think -- but I kept trying to write it down and it kept getting garbled.  In essence, this is a sundae made with a chocolate funnel cake as its base with strawberries on top.  And it is very, very good.  Find it at the Steakhouse next to the steps to the Hall of Industry.

Corndogs.  You can get them a lot of different places, but really, the best ones come from Superdog.  End of story.  I mean, really -- it can be just a little dog or a Mega Dog (18" of weiner in there), it's going to be good in that great perfectly sweet and salty cornmeal-based mix the Superdog folks recreate year after year.  Right by the Wendy's Main Stage and the corner of the Food Court.  Can't miss those big flags.

Deep Fried Corn-on-the-Cob.  My photographer’s favorite dish, it’s a big long cob of corn given the corndog treatment.  It’s a good combination.  The one complaint -- it’s so big and heavy (we’re talking a two pound dish) that it might fill you up before you can get to the other fair food out on the Midway.

Deep Fried Egg on a Stick.  Yes, those hard boiled eggs treated like weiners getting the corndog treatment are back again thanks to the folks at Hot Wisconsin Cheese.

Deep Fried Egg Rolls.  In my opinion, the breakout neat new and tasty fair food at the Arkansas State Fair.  They are meatless egg rolls packed with cabbage and carrots tempura battered and deep fried and served up with sauce.  Somehow, the battering process makes these egg rolls less greasy than their non-battered average counterparts at Asian restaurants.  A real winner.  You’ll find them at Sissy’s next to Paizi’s in the Food Court.

Frosted Popcorn.  It's Kettle Corn, but with a thicker sugar coating on those kernels and in many different colors.  Pick up a bag at Candy Tower on the Midway.

Funny Bones.  They’re just a funny name for something else -- chocolate peanut butter injected deep fried Twinkies.  As if a fried Twinkie wasn’t sweet enough.  Seriously, though, the on-a-stick creation from the folks at Fried What? is a cross between a deep fried Twinkie and a deep fried Reeces Peanut Butter Cup.  Where’s the milk?  You’ll find Fried What? next to the Pineapple Whip people by the Wendy’s Main Stage.

Fried Gator.  You know, it kinda tastes like chicken -- but it doesn’t.  Sissy’s is putting out fried gator on a stick for you to try at this year’s fair, and if you haven’t had it before it’s not a bad deal.  The gator benefits from the battering and deep frying process, somehow coming out juicier than with other applications elsewhere.

Fried Green Tomatoes.  Yes, they’re back this year, same as last year at Sissy’s on the Food Court.

Gyros.  We’ve talked about Paizi’s before; for Central Arkansas, here’s your chance to enjoy great gyros, chicken pitas and vegetable pitas in the Food Court.  Paizi’s has a magnificent tzatziki sauce and won’t hesitate to throw on some extra onions or lettuce for you.  Another healthy fair option.

Hamburger Steak.  The Big Show Diner at the Arkansas State Fair makes up big dinners for hungry folks (including a rarely ordered lobster dinner -- they only sell about 10 pounds of the six ounce tails each year).  The 16 ounce hamburger steak comes grilled with peppers and onions and is served up with two sides and a roll.  The big steak is a favorite with return visitors.

Hot Beef Sundae.  We last caught up with these folks at the Arkansas Oklahoma State Fair.  Enjoy a "sundae" made from a bases of sliced roast beef, a scoop of mashed potatoes, a drizzle of gravy, cheese "sprinkles" and a cherry tomato, at the stand right next to the restrooms across from the Center Stage Grill.

Hubcap Burgers and Hubcap Chicken Sandwiches.  These are massive one pound burgers and sandwiches that will feed a crowd -- or one very hungry fairgoer.  A mainstay of the Arkansas State Fair, you can have yours topped with any of the traditional toppings such as lettuce, tomatoes, onions or pickles -- or add on cheese, jalapenos or chili.  Located at the Hubcap Burger Stand in the Food Court (where you can also find Pig Lickers).

Hubcap Steak Fried Steak.  Similar to the Hubcap Burger, it's a pound of chicken fried steak on a bun.  Introduced last year, it's still offered at the Big Show Diner.

Ice Cream Treats.  Best place to get them is at Kookie Kookies and Cream to the south of the Big Show Diner on the way to the Hall of Industry.  Sundaes, cones, floats and more, topped with sprinkles or cookie crumbs or caramel or chocolate or whipped cream or all of it.

Italian Sausages.  So popular with state fair folks, these come from a couple of different Deggeler-related booths along the Midway.  Watch the big coils of meat roast on the griddle with all those vegetables.

Jalapeno Lemonade.  Well, it’s something else.  The folks at Fried What? have combined the thirst-quenching beverage with one thing that makes most people reach for liquid refreshment.  There’s not a lot of jalapeno flavor on the outset -- but within a moment of your first gulp you’ll feel the whiskey burn at the back of your throat. It's next to Superdog.

Fried Kool-Aid.  Okay.  I had the Kool-Aid Balls at the State Fair of Texas, which was a similar idea, taking Kool-Aid and deep frying it.  But in Dallas, it’s infused into funnel cake batter that’s fried up and then dusted with powdered sugar.  There’s a different consistency to what the folks at Fried What? are doing.  Somehow their version comes out harder and much stronger in flavor, rendering these powerful little bombs with flavor with what you might get if you deep fried Pop Rocks (and if you’re thinking about that, then please, don’t).  I’d suggest skipping these and getting a Funny Bone instead.

Lemonade.  The best lemonade at the Fair that I've found has to be the folks with L and M Concessions (the Cheeseburger on a Stick people) -- who make it extraordinarily strong.  Get ice.  Lots of ice.

Moink Balls.  A great idea from the folks at Smoke Stack BBQ, these are beef meatballs wrapped in bacon, cooked up in barbecue sauce. They come five to a stick and have a fantastic flavor. Available only at Smoke Stack BBQ -- the red trailer down in front of the Swine Facility.

Monkey Nuts.  NOT WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE.  These are hollowed out coconut husk cups decorated like monkey heads.  They're filled with one of the many neat beverages by the folks at Coco Bongos -- drinks such as the Miami Vice (strawberry, pineapple, coconut and cream) and the Jamaican Me Crazy (strawberry and tropical lemon).  A neat souvenir to take home -- they can also be used as coin banks later.

Fried Oreos.  It's hard to imagine, but Fried Oreos were only introduced six years ago.  Now they're a fair staple.  The Fried Dough stand about three quarters of a way back down the Midway (where you turn left to go up to Barton Colliseum) has the best I've found on the fairgrounds.

Fried Peanut Butter Cups.  Rolled up in biscuit dough, these cups pack a heck of a punch with ooey gooey peanut butter and chocolate inside.  They're also surprisingly filling.  Get them at the Feed Trough by the Rabbit Facility.

Pecans.  The folks at Ozark Candy and Nuts are set up inside the Hall of Industry this year, hot roasting and candy-fying pecans on the spot.  These smell heavenly; the praline pecans are lovely and sweet and totally addictive.  The cinnamon pecans are pretty tasty, too.

Pepperoni Pizza Puffs.  Another returning champion from last year from the folks at Sissy’s, these are sections of pizza dough with mozzarella cheese, pepperoni and a little marinara sauce rolled up and deep fried.  Nice and satisfying.

Fried Pickles.  The origin of the fried pickle traces back to a little restaurant (that no longer exists) in Atkins, AR -- which used to be Pickle Central.  Atkins doesn’t have the Atkins Pickle Plant any more, but fried pickles are ingrained in Arkansas culinary tradition, and you’ll find several versions available -- at Fried What? at Sissy’s, at The Big Show Diner and who knows where else.  Spears, chips or chunks, if you want a tart treat you can’t go wrong here.  Most are served with Ranch dressing.

Fried Pies.  The folks from That Place in West Fork, AR are serving up those great Letha’s Pies, great fried pies in flavors like coconut cream, apple, peach, pecan and cherry.  I particularly like the pecan pie -- which has a perfect crust and plenty of meaty pecans in a delicious and sweet custardy syrup.  The coconut cream is delightfully creamy.

Pig Lickers.  They just won't go away -- Chocolate dipped bacon strips.  This year they're 3 for $5 -- that's inflation for you.  Find them at the Hubcap Burger stand on the Food Court.

Pineapple Whips.  But of course -- one of our favorites.  The best place to get them is right across from the Wendy's Main Stage at Gate 5.

Pizza.  Yes, indeed -- you can get a whole pizza at the Arkansas State Fair from the folks at Leimon's Pizza.  The tradition of pizza at the fair goes back to the 1970s and is continued on today.  Get a whole pie and share it for a better bargain, or just get a big fat slice right in the Food Court.  Gourmet flavors this year include White Vegetable, Chicken Broccoli Ranch and Buffalo Chicken.

Pork Chops.  Available a couple of places.  For you early morning risers, pick one up at the Pork Chop Shop located right outside of the Swine Facility.  Once the grills get started, you can get one at Gold's Boss Hog near Gate 5, right down from the Wendy's Main Stage.

Big Stuffed Potatoes.  These one pound potatoes come in several varieties, from the traditional Baked ($4.50 with cheese, sour cream and butter) to the Supreme (shown, $6 with butter, cheese, bacon, onions and sour cream), the Roast ($7 with roast beef, carrots, butter, cheese and sour cream), Taco ($6.75 with taco meat, salsa, butter, sour cream, cheese, onions and tomato), Pollo Mexicano ($7, just like the Taco but with grilled chicken instead of the taco meat) and Chili ($6.75 with chili, salsa, cheese, sour cream and butter).  You can find them at the Big Show Diner.

Rabbit Sandwiches.  Last year the folks at the Feed Trough offered up BBQ Rabbit Sandwiches.  This year they’re offering up the rabbit and you can choose whether or not you want the barbecue sauce.  It’s good, savory rabbit and really doesn’t need that much sauce.  You’ll find the Feed Trough in the yellow trailer over by the Rabbit Barn.

Reuben Sandwiches.  An Arkansas staple, it’s a popular treat at the fair.  No one really knows for certain why natives dig the corned beef and sauerkraut sandwich to the point where it’s almost everywhere -- but for certain it’s at our celebration on the fairgrounds.  You'll find yours at Hot Wisconsin Cheese.

Ribs.  Gold's Boss Hog there near Gate 5 offers all sorts of grilled goodness, including a four bone dinner for $14, half a slab for $12 or a full slab for $22.

Deep Fried Rolos.  From the same folks that brought us Chocolate Smooches last year (which of course will be available this year as well) here come battered and deep fried Rolos.  The deep frying process makes the caramel soft and a little runny -- which is just about perfect.  Share a bunch with your friends.

Sassy's Awesome Blossom.  Yes, it's a mostly-sliced-through onion battered and deep fried.  Yes, you can get one at Outback Steakhouse or Chili's or 12 other big chain restaurants.  But isn't it fun to attempt to juggle one while sharing with friends on the Midway?

Deep Fried S’Mores.  It’s exactly what you think it is -- a marshmallow and chocolate bar pieces pressed between graham crackers, battered and deep fried.  It’s a pretty big concoction but it has a very good and sweet flavor.  You’ll find it at Fried What?

Southern Fried Chicken on a Stick.  Another item that might have another name -- it’s a couple of sections of chicken breast meat with a couple of peppers and onions for good measure.  At last, something battered and deep fried that was meant to be battered and deep fried! Get yours at Gold's Boss Hog.

Spanish Candy.  It’s an unusual option, but these sweet-tart European candies are available from Sweet and Sour USA in the Hall of Industry.  Several flavors are available, including sour watermelon, sweet watermelon, bubble gum, strawberry, sour apple and more.  Bright and cheerful and easy to take home with you -- they come in long whips for a couple of bucks each.  Do yourself a favor -- if you must have sour, purchase a value pack for $5 with snippets of all the best.

Steak Boats.  Paper boats filled with cubed steak, cubed potatoes and veggies all roasted in big cast iron skillets.  Tasty.  Right outside the Hall of Industry at the Steakhouse Stand.

Steak Doughnut Burger.  It's exactly what you think it is -- a burger patty served up on a sliced-in-half doughnut.  Served up with your choice of condiments and such.  You'll find it at L and M Concessions.

Swiss and Rye on a Stick.  Forget fried cheese sticks... this is an entirely different experience.  A big hunk of Wisconsin Swiss in a special rye flour batter deep fried -- best served up with stone ground mustard.  You'll find it at Hot Wisconsin Cheese across from Superdog.

Taffy.  The easiest food to take home with you from the Arkansas State Fair, the Colonial Nut Roll folks have been offering it up in so many flavors and colors for years there.  I honestly can't remember back to a time before their stand, to the left as you first enter the Hall of Industry.

Tater Dog.  You'll find it at the Texas Tater Twister trailer, across from the Center Stage Pavilion.

Tater Twisters.  Ever popular, it’s a spiral cut potato thrown into the deep fryer and then sprinkled with salt.  You can even get yours covered in nacho cheese sauce.  The folks at Grater Tater on the Food Court can set you up (while also offering you a Fried Snickers Bar).

Iced Tea.  Available in several locations around the Arkansas State Fair -- most places serve it sweet, but we found the Ice Tea Box over between the Pig Licker stand and L and M Concessions offers up the strongest regular tea (that's unsweet).  Also popular with LRPD officers, apparently.

Texas Twister.  My favorite beverage at this year's Arkansas State Fair.  It's a blend of lemons, limes, oranges and Maraschino cherries, sweetened with sugar (the red version) or Splenda (the yellow version).  Refreshing, especially for those of us who aren't so excited about consuming mass quantities of sugar.

Tropical Fruit Punch.  A recipe dating back to the 1850s is still in use at the Big Show Diner (a throwback from when Mexico Chiquito operated the State Fairgrounds location).  Deep red and redolent of pineapple juice, it's a favorite that comes back year after year.

Turkey Legs.  You can't throw a stick on the Midway without hitting someone eating a turkey leg.  There are several vendors selling the legs this year.   The best ones can be found at Smoke Stack BBQ -- they wrap the legs tightly after smoking and let them heat through some more.  The meat just falls off the bone.

Walking Taco. Introduced at the 2009 Arkansas State Fair, the popularity of the item has grown enough for it to be introduced at the State Fair of Texas this year.  Unlike its Texas equivalent, Kathy's Kabana does it with big round tortilla chips, right in the bag.  Find it on the east end of the Food Court, between the Pizzaria and the Silver Bullet Saloon.

Deep Fried Watermelon.  The version at the State Fair of Texas didn’t impress me.  This one from the folks at CM Steakhouse outside the front door of the Hall of Industry does a better job.  For one, you can actually tell it’s watermelon inside.  It’s a substantial chunk of watermelon, dipped in a flour based batter and deep fried.  And somehow, it retains most of the juice.  It was not offensive, though I’m not sure it’s what I’d normally order as far as fair food goes.  These guys also serve up Grilled Watermelon on a Stick, for those watching their fried food intake.

Wings.  The Silver Bullet Saloon and Cafe is your place to pick up lots of different chicken wings -- large juicy chicken wing sections in a variety of flavors.  I found the Chili Sweet Wings to be pretty darn good.  The Golden Garlic was my favorite.  There are also Sweet BBQ and Teriyaki Wings.  But the one to watch out for are Nuclear Wings, wings so hot they might make you cry.


  1. Thank you for the information,Kat. This actually helps me plan out where to go and what to get.


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