The three main state fair food groups – deep-fried, wrapped in bacon, served on a stick – will be amply represented at this year’s Kansas State Fair.
When the event opens on Friday for its 10-day run, fairgoers will find dozens of crazy, only-at-the-fair concoctions: deep-fried Nutella and Frosted Flake fried chicken on a stick.
They’ll also find the old favorites they crave all year long, including church chicken and noodles, Pronto pups and Jaffles.
“If you aren’t finding something fun and new that you’ve never tried, I don’t think you’re looking very hard,” said Sue Stoecklein, the fair’s commercial exhibits director, who is responsible for hiring the fair’s food court vendors each year.
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Those vendors, as always, are attempting to outdo each other with unusual offerings.
Brackett Concessions, the vendor at 300 Fort Riley Blvd. known for its deep-fried cookie dough, this year will be offering deep-fried Nutella, which features the popular hazelnut spread stuffed into a wonton wrapper, with or without bananas, then deep-fried.
“I had it with bananas, and it was a really good choice,” Stoecklein said.
A few booths over, at 310 Fort Riley, Nana’s Delicacies also will be frying items previously considered unfry-able, including Klondike bars and Jell-O. (In a peace offering to fairgoers’ arteries, Nana also will offer fresh fruit kebabs.)
Frosted Flakes are the main ingredient of the strangest food on the menu at Family Foods, 201 Bison Blvd. That vendor is impaling chicken on a stick, dredging it in Frosted Flakes cereal and deep-frying it.
“It’s got that sweet and salty together, and it’s wonderful,” Stoecklein said.
Fairgoers achin’ for bacon will find it wrapped around pork or covered in chocolate at Carousel Cafe, 306 Fort Riley; encasing corndogs at Yeehaw Concessions at 405 Bison Blvd. and C/J Griffin Concessions on Sunflower South; and serving as the main ingredient in the Bacon Nizers at Kathie B’s BBQ and Bacon at 313 Fort Riley. Bacon Nizers, which arrived at the fair in 2012, feature tortillas stuffed with various ingredients, wrapped in bacon and flash-fried.
Another Brackett Concessions booth, this one at 305 Fort Riley, has a new machine that peels whole potatoes and slices them. Potatoes will be deep-fried and then doused in a variety of dry seasonings – from ketchup salt to Parmesan garlic.
For the first time in her memory, Stoecklein said, the fair will have an Italian food vendor. Mama Mia Concessions, 308 Pride of Kansas Ave., will serve meatballs on a stick, toasted ravioli, toasted cannelloni and deep-fried cheesecake.
And the Old Texas Soda Company, another new vendor, will be set up at 311 Cottonwood Ave. It will serve homemade sodas in a variety of flavors in stainless steel souvenir mugs that can be refilled for free.
The fair lost two longtime vendors this year.
The fried-cheese curd maker, who always sets up outside Cottonwood Court, opted not to return, and Stoecklein was in a panic. She called the Wisconsin State Fair looking for a replacement and found one. The new vendor’s cheese comes from Iowa, and his trailers will be set up at 305 Fort Leavenworth Blvd. and 307 Bison Blvd.
“Crisis abated,” Stoecklein said.
The Nitro Ice Cream makers, who in the past had served their science ice cream in the Eisenhower Building, also opted not to return, but Stoecklein was not able to find a similar replacement. In their place will be a vendor selling cinnamon-glazed nuts and homemade pork rinds made in eight different flavors.
One other addition: The fair is hosting a competition among all vendors selling items “on a stick.” Stoecklein said she’ll know the winner by Tuesday.
Fairgoers who want to plan their eating in advance can do so by viewing the fair’s online food guide at www.kansasstatefair.com. Click on “all depts,” then “commercial vendors” and then “2014 food and item directories.” Printed food lists will also be available at the gates and the information center.