Tips. Some vendors are taking plastic this year, including McKinney Food Services, Mad Marty's Cheesesteak Factory and a few others. Otherwise, fair food is a cash operation. Hey, it beats having to buy tickets, which happens at so many other state fairs across the country.
If you have kids, take some quart or gallon sized zip-top bags in your satchel for when said children decide they don't want to spend the time to consume sticky sweet desserts before getting on more rides. Wet towelettes are also a marvelous idea.
Apple fries. Similar to the Tasty Tom winners of 2013, the fried apple rings, these are strips of apple that have been flour-battered with cinnamon and sugar, fried and served with sauce. $6 at Fried What? near the Main Stage.
Bacon Bomb. This crazy concoction from Fried What? consisting of a Hershey's kiss in a brownie ball, covered with chocolate chip cookie dough and peanut butter, rolled in bacon crumbs, deep fried and served with ice cream.
Barbecue sandwiches. While pulled pork sandwiches with or without barbecue sauce are offered elsewhere on the fairgrounds, Mickey's Grill in the Food Court offers beef barbecue sandwiches for $7 -$10 if you want to add a drink and a bag of chips.
Battered bacon. My friend Leif calls it guilding the lily - dipping bacon in batter and deep frying it. You decide if he's right or not. $6 at the Cheeseburger on a Stick stand.
Big Dog. The ultimate gotta-share-with-friends dish of the Arkansas State Fair, this two foot long, two and a half pound hot dog comes naked or dressed with everything you want, including chili, cheese, slaw, onions, cheese sauce, jalapenos, maybe even bacon. It's $15 plain, $18 with chili and cheese and $20 with the works. Also, if you want it with four drinks, it's $30. Find it at the Blue Moon Pavilion.
Blooming onion. A whole onion, specially sliced, battered, deep fried and served with dipping sauce. The shape is the novelty (though Outback Steakhouse has been doing these for years). $10 at the Ribbon Fries stand near the heart of the Midway or $8 at the Grater Tater stand in the Food Court.
Boudin. Want some Louisiana-style sausage? The popular white sausage made from pork is available at Larry's Cajun Shak for $6.
Breakfast dogs. Pancake batter around sausage links, you'll find them at Chris' Jumbo Corndog in the Food Court, three for $5.
Ozark Candies and Nuts introduces this new flavor, which pairs Buffalo seasoning with ranch dressing to create a savory snack. Find it in the Hall of Industry.
Burritos. Oversized burritos are available at the Big Show Diner. You can get bean ($3.50), beef ($4.50), supreme (S5.50) or chicken ($6.50).
Calzones and stromboli. Both are available for $8 at the Fresh Oven Baked Pizza stand in the north section of the Midway. They're easier to eat than pizza, and a bit larger than your average slice. Yay carbs.
Candy apples. Available at Candy Tower near the Big Show Diner for $3 or 2 for $5, also available in the Hall of Industry.
Cheese dip. Of course Arkansas's own creation, originally delivered by Blackie Donnelly, makes its appearance at the state's largest fair. You'll find cheese dip and tortilla chips for $5 at the Burger Wagon. There's also the original Arkansas State Fair original recipe blend at the Big Show Diner, which runs $3.50 for small and $7 for large, with chips.
Chili dogs. Offered several places, including at Memaw's Homemade Concessions in the Food Court, where the chili is house made. $3 without the chili, $4 with the chili.
Chinese food. Once considered a delicacy at the Arkansas State Fair, the Chinese American Restaurant booth continues a grand tradition of serving up fried rice and egg rolls to fairgoers. The prices are very, very reasonable, with a big plate of fried rice starting at $6 and Sweet and Sour Chicken with fried rice at $8.75. You can spend $10 and get teriyaki beef meatballs with egg roll and fried rice, which is decent enough to share.
Chipotle glazed nuts. Ozark Candies and Nuts has combined roasted chipotle peppers with sugar and butter to create a perfect coating for cashews and other nuts. Warm but not too spicy.
Chocolate-covered cheesecake on a stick. Exactly what it says in the title, this is a slice of cheesecake that's been dipped in chocolate. Eat it quick -- once it warms up, it will fall apart. It's $7 at the Fried Twinkie stand next to the Hall of Industry.
Coffee. The second cheapest beverage at the Arkansas State Fair is coffee... available at the Big Show Diner for a dollar.
Corn in a cup. Apparently this is a thing. You can get a cup of corn for $6 at Larry's Cajun Shak in the Food Court.
Corn nuggets. Offered at Michael's Family Kitchen for $5, these are deep fried corn morsels.
Dippin' Dots. The ice cream of the future is at an Arkansas State Fair stand near you -- or at least near the Food Court. Enjoy these pellets of ice cream in several flavors, including Cookies n' Cream, Strawberry Cheesecake and Cotton Candy.
Floats and Flurries. The Ice Cream vendor near the old Main Gate of the Arkansas State Fair offers root beer and Coke floats for $5 and flurries with M&Ms, Reeces cups or Oreos for $6.
Fried avocado. Either in slices or in halves with meatball centers, avocados are found deep fried at the Arkansas State Fair. Get your trayful at Cheeseburger on a Stick in the Food Court for $6.
Fried catfish. A southern favorite, you'll be able to order your plateful at the Big Show Diner throughout the fair. $9.50 with fries on the side.
Fried cheese on a stick. Grater Tater offers these for $5.
Fried cheesecake on a stick. Exactly what it says it is, a sweetly battered and deep fried slice of cheesecake on a stick. Holds together better than the regular chocolate dipped cheesecake on a stick. South end of the Midway for $7 or at the gray building by the Hall of Industry.
Fried chicken. Boneless fried chicken is available several places, including as a dinner at the Big Show Diner.
Fried dough. That's the $6 specialty at Fried Dough in the Family Zone section of the Midway.
Fried Milky Way. Another twist on deep fried candy bars -- this one's $5 at the Fried Twinkie stand by the Hall of Industry.
Fried Snickers bar. Yes, they're still around. Get one at the south end of the Midway for $4 or at the Fried Twinkie stand by the Hall of Industry or the Grater Tater stand for $5.
Fried Twinkies. Since someone figured out you can deep-freeze a Twinkie, batter and deep fry it for something truly devilish and light, these have become a fair staple. They're $4 at the end of the Midway or $5 at the gray stand by the Hall of Industry. You can also get a FOOT LONG fried Twinkie at the latter for $8.
Fries. Like French fries? You can get a bucketful for $8 from Fry City Fries. Definitely something to share with a crowd. Top it with nacho cheese sauce for a dollar. You can also add seasonings -- they're provided. Choose from Old Bay, seasoning salt, black pepper, vinegar, and several other choices.
Greek Salad. Paizis' has them for $13 -- your choice of beef, chicken, seafood or gyro meat on a bed of lettuce, tomatoes, black olives and Feta cheese. Healthy and huge! You'll find them at the Paizis' stand in the Food Court.
Gumbo. Larry's Cajun Shak (yes, that's how it's spelled) serves up a serving for $7.
Ham. Get a big ham sandwich at the Big Show Diner, a big Petit Jean Meats ham sandwich at that, for $9.50. It comes with fries.
Hot dogs. Cheesesteak Factory offers Nathan's all-beef dogs for $4. You can get the famous red Petit Jean Meats version at the Petit Jean Meat Smokehouse. Michael's Family Kitchen along the Midway also has hot dogs, but I don't know what's in them yet. Those are also $4.
Ice cream. The Ice Cream Parlor in its fuschia and purple wagon along the Midway serves lots of ice cream confections. Toppings include nuts, marshmallow fluff, butterscotch, hot fudge, chocolate syrup and caramel. They offer banana splits ($8), ice cream in waffle cones ($5), milkshakes, slushies, frozen bananas ($4), arctic swirls and gelati.
Iced Tea. Drink healthy at the fair is to consume refreshing, unsweetened iced tea. Available at the Lipton Tea Boxes, located in the food court and at the end of the midway, $3 for regular and $5 for a refillable large (refills are $3). Oh, there's sweet tea there, too. And fruit punch.
Italian sausages. You'll see these in big coils in the window at a number of places, sizzling away all day on a grill with peppers and onions. $8 at the Cheesesteak Factory.
Jumbo hamburger/cheeseburger. Mitches Southern Grill up by the Ag in Action barn probably does the best burgers you can get at the fair. They're grilled over flames in a permanent screened-in structure, which means don't walk by Mitches while hungry unless you're going to get a burger. Burgers are $7, a dollar more for cheese and/or bacon.
Jumbo hot chocolate. Mitches offers regular hot chocolate in really big cups, which is great if it gets cool in the evening at the fair. Also, machined cappuccino (think International Coffees). $3 a cup.
Jumbo pickles. They're big, they're salty and sour and they're $3 at Mickey's Grill in the Food Court.
Kettle corn. Sweet and salty, ready to eat hot or take home, you can get yours for $5 a regular bag or $9 for a large bag at the pork rind stand outside the Hall of Industry.
Nachos. Almost everywhere at the Arkansas State Fair, you'll find nachos. They come in all shapes and sizes. Your pretty standard nachos with cheese sauce can be found for $4 at Mickey's Grill in the Food Court (50 cents more for chili). Jumbo version is available for $7 across the Food Court at the Burger Wagon. At the Big Show Diner, not only can you get nachos and chili cheese nachos, you can also get your nachos topped with tamales, $8.50 for regular and $13 for large. Wow.
Onion petals. Fried onions are a longstanding hit at the Arkansas State Fair, with versions ranging from onion rings to onion blossoms. Look for places that serve these deep fried and battered onions with special sauces.
Philly cheesesteak sandwiches. A lot of places serving these around the fairgrounds. Hot grilled beef with onions and peppers, usually served with provolone or swiss cheese. Look for the Cheesesteak Factory in its big green trailer towards the south end of the Midway. It's $10 for a full sandwich with the works (mushrooms, peppers and onion), Michael's Family Diner offers a toasted cheesesteak on Texas toast for $9 and a chicken version for $8. Pat's Kitchen also does a traditional Philly for $8.
Pierogies. These classic potato-filled dumplings are available at Michael's Family Diner along the Midway for $5.
Polish sausage. Get your link for $7 at Cheesesteak Factory.
Pork loin roast sandwich. The Big Show Diner offers them with fries for $9.50.
Red beans and rice. The most filling meal at the Arkansas State Fair, you can find it at Larry's Cajun Shak in the Food Court for $6.
Red velvet funnel cakes. They're $6 at the Fried Dough stands in the Family Zone section of the Midway and $7 at the stand at the end of the Midway.
Ribs. Rack or half rack, pork ribs are grilled over hot charcoal at several places across the fairgrounds. Find them at Boss Hog's near the south end of the Midway.
Sausages. In addition to jalapeno and cheese filled, Italian, Polish and Cajun sausages, you can get sausages wth peppers and onions at Pat's Kitchen, near the Hall of Industry in the Food Court.
Shaved ice. Cool and refreshing, you have a wide variety of flavors to choose from -- Tiger's Blood, wedding cake, cherry, blue raspberry, cotton candy, pina colada, bubble gum, peanut butter, green apple, strawberry, banana and peach. South end of Midway, $3. Also at Memaw's Homemade Concession in the Food Court, $4 small and $6 large, with banana, blue raspberry, bubble gum, cherry, coconut, cotton candy, grape, ice cream, lemon-lime, orange, peach, pina colada, pink lemonade, sour apple, strawberry daiquiri, strawberry, Tiger's Blood, watermelon and wedding cake.
Southern Blue Plate Special. If you're looking for a full-sized sit-down meal, you can get it at the Big Show Diner for $13. The choices include the giant chicken fried steak, pork loin roast, roast beef, fried or grilled chicken breast or hamburger steak with two sides and a roll for $13. Sides include mashed potatoes, red potatoes, fries, corn, beans, carrots, black eyed peas, green peas, Spanish rice or coleslaw.
Steak and eggs. Michael's Family Diner along the Midway offers this breakfast or anytime classic for $10.
Walking Taco. All the flavor of a taco salad, in a bag -- specifically, the bag the chips came in. Get one at Pat's Kitchen for $8.
See what was new, great and popular last year in the 2014 Arkansas State Fair Food Guide.