State Fair

September 15, 2012

Fair eats: Unexpected delights, disasters

If you’re planning to go to the final weekend of the Kansas State Fair, you will probably want to eat something there.

If you’re planning to go to the final weekend of the Kansas State Fair, you will probably want to eat something there.

But what?

To answer that (sometimes literally) burning question, The Eagle sent reporter Dion Lefler to the fair to sample some of the, shall we say, unique offerings.

The following are reviews of dishes that for some reason caught his (admittedly limited) attention:

Fried Thin Mints

Where to find it: Brackett Concessions, 303 Fort Riley Blvd.

Price: $5 for six cookies

What’s in it: A Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookie, batter-fried with powdered sugar on top

The judgment: This is what fair food is all about – something unusual but unexpectedly flavorful.

The batter was kind of like a pancake puff and the cookie melts into sort of a soft mint-chocolate center.

I shared these with the No. 4 official in Kansas state government, House Speaker Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson. O’Neal, who’s been campaigning and eating at the fair for the past 28 years, agreed that these were unexpectedly tasty.

I had expected to taste-test one and give the rest away. But after finishing them, I was strongly tempted to get another order.

If you do that, I’d recommend eating the second portion somewhere near the Hutchinson Clinic booth, where they have nurses who can help if it turns your arteries into Slim Jims.

But dang these tasted good.

Buffalo Burger

Where to find it: Hutchinson Civitan Club booth in the Cottonwood Building food court.

Price: $6

What’s in it: Buffalo

The judgment: I was attracted to this food booth on the theory that Civitans are public-spirited citizens who do a lot of good things in the community and thus are unlikely to try to deliberately poison anyone.

The buffalo burger is their signature dish and it does not disappoint.

It was slightly dry, as buffalo meat tends to be because of its minimal fat content (about the only entree at the fair that can make that claim). But overall, with the lettuce and tomato, it was pretty good fair food – tasty and filling and you won’t sweat cooking grease for a week after eating it.

At $6, it was a bit pricey, but my advice is enjoy the burger and remind yourself that the money’s helping kids with developmental disabilities.

The banana Bacon Nizer

Where to find it: Kathy B’s BBQ and Bacon, 314 Fort Riley Blvd.

Price: $6

What’s in it: A banana, with cheese and some raisins (and other dark bits that I’m hoping were fruit), wrapped in bacon and deep fried, served with chocolate syrup and caramel sauce on the side.

The judgment: As food disasters go, this is Chernobyl.

Tastewise, it combines two inherently mouthwatering fair-food staples, bananas and bacon, into a dish that is far, far less than the sum of its parts.

One of our folks raves about these. Just to make sure I wasn’t missing some hidden culinary virtue, I shared bites from the Bacon Nizer with two innocent bystanders (after three or four others took one look and said “thanks, no thanks”).

Their takes: “It tasted nasty, the banana really did – warm and mushy.” And: “Pigs and fruit do not go together. Leave it alone.”

Fair food’s supposed to be a guilty pleasure. The banana Bacon Nizer is just guilty.

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