To the public, fall events at farm markets have a lot in common with state fairs. They offer a day out for the family, with educational and fun activities for the kids.
Unlike your state fair, you’re competing with dozens of other local fall festivals. You need to find a way to stand out.
So why not take a page from fairs and add buzz-worthy food items to your offering?
Every year, reporters and bloggers across the country talk about the latest, can-you-believe-it food you can try out. And if that food is also tasty, then fair goers begin telling friends they just have to try that food when they go.
Here are some of the top state-fair foods making headlines this year that you can consider for your own festival:
Deep Fried Heaven
Jell-O Balls. The Texas State Fair is probably the best known state fair when it comes to introducing buzz-worthy foods. Fried Oreos and fried Twinkies? First offered in Texas. As were fried butter and fried Coke.
This year, Jell-O takes its turn to be deep-fried. These treats have a lot in common with the fried butter — they’re basically donuts, and the Jell-O center gives them a fruity filling. The Jell-O Balls won best new food for the upcoming fair.
Loaded Potato On A Stick. This savory treat comes from the Iowa State Fair, which is best known for tasty, if somewhat basic fair food. Cooked potatoes are rolled with cheese, bacon bits, and sour cream, then breaded and fried.
A trend over the past three years has been to offer sandwiches with donuts stepping in as the bun.
Donut Burger. The Alaska State Fair seems to one of the healthier fairs in the country, with a lot of seafood offerings. But in the Donut Burger, fair-goers can indulge. A beef patty, bacon, cheddar, and a fried egg lie between two halves of a glazed doughnut.
Krispy Kreme Philly Cheesesteak. Last year, Kentucky decided to raise the bar on donut burgers by offering the famous beef, cheese, onion, and bell pepper ingredients between Krispy Kreme doughnuts.
Candied Bacon Slider. And Minnesota saw Kentucky’s challenge and met it with this savory treat. It’s made with halved mini-doughnuts, which are topped with sugared bacon and red wine ganache.
Between the deep-fried candy bars and craft beers, fair goers need to stop for a meal.
Pork Parfait. At first glance, this treat sold at the New York State Fair looks like a typical ice cream parfait. But instead its made with pulled pork, sour cream, and barbecue sauce.
Beef Hemp Hondo Hotdog. This dog looks like any other hotdog, except there are “hemp hearts” (raw, shelled hemp seeds) and hemp powder included. It’s a big hit at the Kentucky State Fair.
Eggplant Fries. This is probably the simplest item in this list, and it’s simply made. Long strips of eggplant are battered and fried, then served with a tasty tomato sauce at the New York State Fair.
Tot-Cho. Another Kentucky State Fair item makes the list. It’s simply tater tots covered in cheese, purple onions, tomatoes, guacamole, and sour cream.
What’s a state fair (or fall festival) without sweets? Here are a three snacks with an unexpected twist:
Horchata Milkshake. This traditional Mexican drink has won the Illinois State Fair contest for best fair food. It’s made with rice flour, cinnamon, vanilla, condensed milk, and evaporated milk over ice. If you want a churro garnish, there’s an extra $1 fee.
Sweet Potato Tot Supreme. The same vendor that offers the Tot-Chos at the Kentucky State Fair has a sweet version as well. These are sweet potato tater tots with marshmallow cream, caramel, pecans, and maple syrup.
Cookie Fries. This simple item is designed to please younger kids. It’s cookies in the shape of crinkle fries, with a small tub of either strawberry or chocolate sauce standing in for ketchup.
Two More From Texas
It was hard to limit the number of new foods at this year’s Texas State Fair, there were so many imaginative offerings. So here are the final two that caught my eye:
Smoky Bacon Margaritas. These are just what they sound like — margaritas with smoked bacon.
Caribbean Pineapple Korn-A-Copia. This meal in a pineapple looked like something I’d order at a good restaurant. It’s half a pineapple packed with spiced chicken and shrimp, fried rice, tropical salsa, and drizzled with a pineapple rum sauce.