It’s here! It’s here! Ask anyone in Raleigh what they are doing from 10/13-10/23 and you’ll get one answer: I’m going to the fair! Matt and I look forward to the fair every year. We have our favorite haunts (Oddities tent, anyone?) and always find something new to discover.
We lucked out when we managed to get tickets to the Opening Night tweet-up. Not only did we get to hang out with some of our favorite bloggers and Twitterites (@ellenlynch, @bcwriter, and @dawnacrawford), but we got a chance to try out some of the latest in greasy confectionery. First of all, we got to try out the latest craze in fair food; the deep-fried kool-aid. It’s not as crazy as last year’s kool-aid pickles and much tastier. The kool-aid is mixed with batter and then deep-fried. Easy enough! Think a sweeter and redder hush puppy. I enjoyed mine, although some people found theirs to be little dry. Luckily, the original hush puppy was being served as a doughy palate cleanser.
The big draw though was the deep-fried bubblegum, a concoction that sounded both appealing and disgusting. Once again, the recipe is simpler than it seems; bubblegum-flavored marshmallow, deep fried, drizzled with syrup and bubble-gum pieces. Picking one up felt vaguely disconcerting; it was squishy like a water balloon about to pop. Biting into one was a license in evading a gooey mess, but it was worth it. The sweetness of the marshmallow, the crispiness of the fried coating, and that familiar Bubble Yum flavor was irresistible. Unfortunately, finding this treat again among the food stands was impossible. We asked around and no one knew a stand that was actually selling these treats. The deep-fried bubblegum may be the Bigfoot of the Fair world.
My one attempt at being healthy was picking up a basket of fried veggies. Someone realized the only way to get people to eat broccoli and cauliflower at the fair would be to dip it into batter and fry the crap out of it. Unfortunately, the coating slipped off too easily, leaving a trail of various dropped veggies in my wake.
Luckily, the Chef D’Lite stand offered some solace. Focusing on southern-fried goodies, I had to pick up my favorite: the deep-fried mac and cheese. These little triangles of delight were offered up piping hot and with a spicy dipping sauce. Meanwhile, the deep-fried cookie dough was an even richer counterpoint. For $5, you get a whole lot of chocolatey goodness, so be prepared to split them with a friend.
Here’s the meat!:
What’s the point of all of this fried stuff without a hunk of meat to nosh on with it? Last year’s darling was the Krispe Kreme bacon cheeseburger, so this year it was accompanied by its cousin; the Goober Burger. Two Krispe Kreme donuts, peanut butter, grape jelly, and a burger patty. It seems so wrong, yet oh so right. I better it’d be better with a more charred patty, but that was surprisingly some good eatin’!
Matt took on some traditional corndogs, but I had my eye set on the trifecta; the bacon cheese dog. A red hot sausage, cheese sauce, and crispy bacon. I was a little sad that the cheese sauce was a little bland, but between the red hot and the perfectly crispy bacon, I was perfectly content sitting on a bench with a cold drink and one of these to munch on.
The big trend in goodies was the candy apple. Not just any candy apple; but a variety of crazy concoctions. Coated in chocolate, coconut, sprinkles, every color of the candied rainbow. Woe to the dentally-challenged like me. My poor bridge would not be able to withstand these treats, although I’d love to try. Have an apple for me, everyone!
At the cooking contests, the creation that caught my eye above all else was an awesome Steampunk-inspired cake. With copper gears and a timepiece in the middle, it was either a cake or a time machine. My top hat and monocle off to that baker!
It must have been a dream. I remember searching throughout the fairgrounds for a QR code, all a part of the Tweet-up’s scavenger hunt, but the place itself must have been a mirage. Really? Crepes? At the Fair? Indeed, I watched a guy inside the booth smooth the batter over the hot plate and I was in awe. There’s the standard crepes and a few non-traditional Belgian dishes (Pizza waffles?) Unfortunately, when we went back on Monday, the stand was gone. If you find Brussels Crepes, jump on it and get something with nutella.
Only at the Fair:
Toys: The most common sight all day was the Unlicensed Video Game Character. It was truly the unsung hero of the Fairway, every one from Sonic T. Hedgehog, the Mario Brothers, and even Ms. Lara Croft made an appearance. But the new kids on the block, soon to be crashed into to squash some piggies, were the Angry birds. You couldn’t turn around without seeing their furious faces. Sorry game consoles, cell phones are deciding the cheap toy line-up next year. I’m hoping for some cuddly Words with Friends toy to snuggle up to.
There’s always livestock to find at the fair. Cows, racing pigs, even the lone zebra at the petting zoo. My favorite animals though are to be found at the various Oddities tents around the fairway. The World’s Smallest Horse, El Chupacabra, and even a spider woman can be found.
Even more disturbing through than Pandora the spider woman was the Bunny Shed. A local high school farming club hosted a Rabbit judging contest and I found myself gasping and cooing at every single one. A small white dwarf bunny stole my heart. I turned away content, and saw the following sign “Rabbits are for food, fur, and fun!” Wow, way to bring down the room.
As the night draws to a close and the LCDs light up on the Ferris wheels, it’s hard not to feel like a kid again. Every year has something to look forward to, yet I find myself wondering what will happen next year. I know I’ll saw you all there, only three hundred-some days to go….