Your wacky guide to Colorado State Fair food
The good, bad and the soo bad for you
So, you like - no, love - fried food?
Then what better place to confront your inner worship of the deep-fat fryer than the Colorado State Fair, where "swimming in hot oil" reaches a whole new level? (I mean, isn't it only a matter of time before the fair food darling will be something fried, dipped in chocolate, wrapped in bacon and then fried again? Pairs nicely with Lipitor.)
The best part of the fair, of course, is the fare. And we're here to help you navigate Pueblo's traditonal farewell to summer with a short food guide divided into five categories.
- Dishes you'd never make at home so you'd better eat it here
- More healthy options
- Most decadent chocolate offering
- Fist-full-of-napkins dishes
- Best walk-around dish (probably something on a stick)
- What NOT to eat before getting on the roller coaster
For food selections, we found a couple of experts. Andrew Novick, a director in charge of food vendors at the Denver County Fair, an extreme food master and creator of Andrew Novick's X-Treme Pancake Breakfast as well as and the X-Treme Breakfast Burrito events. And Miss Ruby Ann Boxcar, a Pueblo-based author of eight books in the "Down Home Trailer Park" series, three of which are cookbooks. Fair food, she says, is "a decadency of delights that can put a spring in the steps of even a big boned gal like myself, and to be honest, it's the only reason I get out of my trailer durin' the summer."
Fair spokesman James Amos is our go-to for finding vendors who will serve up our expert's picks.
Before the rubber hits the midway ground, Boxcar has two bits of advice "to make folks' edible adventure more enjoyable."
First, real foodies should bring along Gold Bond Medicated Powder. "With modern advances in the medical world like this-here stuff, there ain't no good reason why the fear of chafin' should keep folks like myself from the quick pace you got to keep in order to sample every food stand in the fair."
Second, healthy food isn't fair food. “Due to folk's desire to eat right, some eateries have added good-for-you foods, which is why I avoid anything that contains the words low fat, healthy, exotic or tofu,” she says. "And due to my allergies to fish, I also stay away from Rocky Mountain oysters."
That last is a joke, of course: Rocky Mountain oysters are animal testicles, which are also called fries and prairie oysters.
"Good eats and treats" will abound at this year's fair, says Amos. "There are more than 50 vendors where you can feast on items like frosty lemonades, ice-cold Budweiser beer, meatball sandwiches, tacos, green chili, hot dogs, hamburgers, gyros, roasted corn, pork-chops-on-the-stick, deep-fried Oreos and Twinkies."
So, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, we take a look at our experts' choices in each category and where to find them.
THE DISH YOU'D NEVER MAKE AT HOME SO YOU BETTER EAT IT HERE
Novick: Rocky Mountain Oysters, “Ummm...need I explain why???”
Boxcar: Gyros. “I love a good gyro, but I just can't get 'em to taste the same (at home). I even tried to keep the meat warm like they do. But trust me, an electric plug-in heater standin' on its side and a record player with a custom-made spindle on the turntable to rotate the gyros meat just don't cut it. Try as I might, I just couldn't get the speed correct.”
Amos points the way: Fries can be found at T&T Express and gyros are sold at Pioneer Concession.
MOST DECADENT CHOCOLATE OFFERING
Novick: Deep-fried cheesecake with chocolate sauce or Belgian waffle dipped in chocolate and peanuts - or BOTH! Yum!
Boxcar: Chocolate everything. “Accordin' to the European Society of Cardiology, chocolate is good for you. These are the same folks who said exercise is good for you, too. Since we all know you can never get enough exercise, then it'd just make sense that you can't get enough chocolate. Case closed.”
Amos points the way: Where do you find the cheesecake? Fun Zone Food Service fries up cheesecake, candy bars and Oreos.
FIST FULL OF NAPKINS DISH
Novick: Deep-fried Twinkie - it oozes!
Boxcar: “It'd have to be good ol' BBQ, although I try not to use napkins in order to play my part with protectin' the Earth. Instead, I always keep a dish towel in my purse. Not only am I savin' a tree, but if I get stuck in a long line, I open up the bottle of water I also keep in my purse, pour some of it on that dish towel, and I can suck out enough remainin' sauce to keep me goin' for another 15 minutes.”
Amos points the way: Head to German Specialties for the BBQ and back to Fun Zone Food Service for the Twinkies.
BEST WALK AROUND DISH
Novick: Beef Jerky or pork-chop-on-a-stick - or just bring a stick, and put whatever you're eating on it for better mobility!
Boxcar: Too many choices. “Most folks would tell you it would be a corn dog or somethin' on a stick or cob. However, when you carry a big purse like I do, anything you find at the fair is a walk-around dish -- with ice cream bein' the exception to that rule. But I'm workin' on that one!”
Amos points the way: German Specialties serves pork chops on a stick and Pioneer Concession will had you those turkey legs.
WHAT NOT TO EAT BEFORE GETTING ON THE ROLLER COASTER
Novick: Anything with alcohol or cheese - they will amplify the jarring of the roller coaster, and you may see them again before you get off!
Boxcar: One too many turkey legs. “Seein' how these rides are mobile or ain't permanently attached to the ground, (so) I stay away from any food items that are heavy. The last thing I want folks to hear comin' from my mouth as my coaster car goes flyin' off the tracks are the words, ‘Lord, I knew that fifth turkey leg was a mistake!’”
Amos steers you away, in this case: Hoopingarner Concession could be your one-stop-stand for stomach churners. It has Red Velvet Funnel Cake and turkey legs as well as fried green tomatoes, blooming onions, fried pickles and fried cheese.
Novick: Giant turkey leg or Ribeye-on-a-stick - (no carbs!). If you don't mind the carbs, go with a baked potato, but then don't load it up with fatty sour cream and butter!
Boxcar: “That's a three-way tie! Healthy options at this year's fair are corn dogs (sticks ain't got no calorie count), baby back ribs (babies are smaller) and Dippin' Dots (Again, size matters so you can eat a whole lot more).”
Amos points the way: Head to Stubby's for baked potatoes. "Just follow your nose to the corn dogs, barbecue and ice cream treats. There are several concessions offering them."