Sporkies Finalists Stand Out in State Fair's New Foods
Photo Courtesy Connie Ma, Flickr CC
The Wisconsin State Fair can only mean one thing: food. I eat my way through each year. And while seeing some animals, maybe a horse pull in the coliseum and whatever the hawkers are selling are part of the experience too; it's the chance to eat some delicious, crazy stuff that gets people really excited.
I have my personal favorites, most of which come from the Wisconsin Products Pavilion—arguably the best source of great food in the fair. A butterflied pork chop sandwich, apple cider donuts and a strawberry ice cream sundae are my go-tos. The grilled cheese booth and the maple people who sell maple cotton candy and maple root beer are sure bets, too. Cranberries, duck, game, dairy—so much great stuff is available in that building.
But each year I like to try some new things as well. There's a massive list of new foods put out by the fair people each year. That can be a little unwieldy to sift through, so I always look to the Sporkies finalists for guidance. The Sporkies is the official food competition for the fair, because let's face it, just because a food is new doesn't mean it's any good. There are eight finalists each year, narrowed down from several dozen entries. Chances are, you'll like a few of the finalists, if not all of them. This year's finalists are:
-Chili-mac bottom pizza from Brew City: deep fried mac and cheese topped with beef chili, cheddar, serrano pepper crema and onion
-Deep fried old fashioned from Water Street Brewery: orange pound cake stuffed with brandy cream cheese filling, fried and topped with bitters whipped cream and orange caramel
-Elvis chicken and waffle sandwich from Slim's Lakefront Brew Pub & Eatery: fried chicken breast sandwiched between peanut butter, banana and bacon waffles, topped with sriracha maple syrup
-Fiesta cookie dough on a stick from Cookie Dough Fondue: chocolate cookie dough spiced with chiles and sprinkled with spicy pepper bits
-Klement's famous racing sausages corn dog from Saz's Bavarian Haus: chunks of brat, chorizo, Polish, Italian and hot dog on one stick, battered and fried served with German beer mustard and curry ketchup
-Moutain man bloody mary burger from Exotic Meat Grill: a third-pound patty made from antelope, bison, boar, elk and venison seasoned like a bloody mary and topped with bloody mary sauce and celery salt
-Root beer float cake from Sprecher Landing: Sprecher root beer-infused cake filled with root beer frosting and topped with meringue
-Thanksgiving day burrito from Mexican Grill: turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and gravy in a burrito
I have not tried any of the finalists (I never did get the deep fried old fashioned at Summerfest like I wanted), but I'm going to predict that the deep fried old fashioned, Elvis sandwich and root beer cake are going to be the top winners. While a mac and cheese and chili combo sounds good, I have no idea why it's called “pizza,” and the mixture of meats in the bloody mary burger seems very wrong to me. The Thanksgiving burrito is intriguing and seems like a good idea to use up my own leftovers come November. I'm just not sure they can overtake desserts and fried chicken when it comes to judging.
The full list of new foods available this year can be found on the Wisconsin State Fair website. Some notables: banana split cheesecake squares, beer popsicles, pork rind nachos, and deep fried bread pudding on a stick.
Upcoming Dining and Beer Events
July 29-30: Riverwest 24. A 24-hour long bike race that's designed to show off Riverwest and encourage urban biking and community spirit.
July 29-31: German Fest at the Summerfest grounds. All things German: beer, food, polka, cultural exhibits and activities. Tickets are $3 on Friday and $12 the rest of the weekend.
July 30: Yappy Hour at the Iron Horse Hotel. Bring your four-legged friends to The Yard for beef-based “beer' for dogs plus drink and food specials for humans, too. Vendors with pet merchandise and treats. Some proceeds from beer sales will go to local rescue shelters.
July 30: Milwaukee Brewfest at McKinley Park. Over 100 breweries will be serving up samples of craft brews, ciders and meads at this popular beer fest. GA tickets are still available for $45.
July 30: Brady Street Festival. Four stages of live music, art vendors, BMX bike shows, wrestling matches, rock wall, and historic tours of Brady Street.
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