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Food at the State Fair is worth the 'weight'
Guilty pleasures are what food booths trade in mainly at an event like Virginia's State Fair

 Ford's Food of Indiana fries up sausage with onions and peppers--another fair favorite that's pleasing to the taste, but not the waist.
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Date published: 9/30/2009


The food booths and vendors at the State Fair know it's guilty pleasures visitors come for.

That's why you won't find lots of stands selling fresh fruit or vegetable treats.

Instead, you'll find things we deny ourselves in daily life, but will splurge on when we attend an event like the State Fair--this year at its new home at Meadow Event Park in Doswell.

That's right, we'll be tempted by candied apples, fresh fudge, racks of ribs, and turkey legs. We'll salivate at the sight of thick, fried sausages with onions and green peppers, fried dough and funnel cakes. The latter coming in regular or "diabetic"--as if the fat alone won't send you into catatonia.

You can find a little bit of every food in the booths at the State Fair, from kettle corn to London broil. Calzones to brats to slush drinks, where the vendor will let you mix up any combinations of flavors.

In recent years, the State Fair food vendors have crossed into what you might call "exotic" fried foods. Everyday foodstuffs, such as candy bars, macaroni and cheese, and even cheesecake, are dunked into a deep fryer.

What results is a "unique product," that vendors say is bought as much out of sheer curiosity as it is for hunger.

Surprisingly, fairgoers find the deep-fried delights to be pretty darned good.

"We used to do the deep-fried cheesecake at a restaurant we had back here," said Theresa Mitchell of Stafford County from a booth on game and ride alley. "It's really tasty, and customers really love it."

She said the magic happens when they take a slice of chilled cheesecake, wrap it in a tortilla and then drop it into the deep fryer.

"We top it off with chocolate or other types of syrup," she said.

At another booth, Jerry Olson of Jamestown, N.Y., said fried Oreos are a big seller.

"We just started offering them this year and they really pull the people over," he said. "When people go to the fair, lots of them are looking for something sweet, and a fried Oreo sounds good."

All over the fair, ordinary food is finding its way into deep fryers, even hunks of ice cream.

Shelby Tapp of Cherry Grove, N.C. said people don't shy away from deep fried goodness even on broiling hot days.

"We've sold 50 funnel cakes, and its stifling out here," she said last week.

Tapp also sells fried Snickers, Milky Way bars and Twinkies.

"The secret on the candy bars is keeping them frozen solid before they go into the fryer," she said. "Otherwise, they'd be melted goo."

Rob Hedelt: 540/374-5415
Email: rhedelt@freelancestar.com

WHERE: The Meadow Event Park in Caroline County (I-95 exit 98)

TIME: 10 a.m.-11 p.m.

COST: Walk-around, $11; after 5 p.m., $8 PARKING: $5 per vehicle (cash only) RIDES: $1/ticket or $20/sheet of 25.

Unlimited-ride wristbands: ages 7 and up, $19; ages 3-6 and 60 and older, $15

TODAY'S EVENTS: Bull riding, freestyle moto-x, cashmere goat fleece show, open beef show, Chincoteague pony demonstrations, horsemanship demonstrations, sheepdog demonstrations, U.S. Navy Fleet Forces Band, Milford Station (bluegrass), English Channel (England) ON THE NET: For more information about today's events, visit fredericksburg.com