Get your fair food fix

By Shelly Detwiler, berry farmer and dietitian

Caution: What you are about to read is not healthy.

I am guessing the stay at home order found you along with me, with increased TV time. I love the game show Family Feud. I love the answers, the questions and Steve Harvey. It just hits my funny bone. Richard Dawson kicked off this popular game show when it first aired in 1976. It has been running for 19 seasons with six different hosts and close to 2,500 episodes. Paul and I love to see where our answers fall on the survey.

Summer is in full swing and one of the hot topics in the Ag world is: will fairs happen? The Ohio State Fair has cancelled, and fate of many county fairs is still up in the air. Fairs are communal, a social gathering of the local community to share in their love, passion and celebration of 4-H, food, agriculture, and down-home country entertainment. It is a party with your community!

Fair food is a big part of that. My inquiring mind needed to know: what fair food would you miss if you could not get it this summer? I took my question to Facebook and surveyed 100 people with over 160 answers. My survey shows that most people could not pick just one food or beverage they love and would miss. It shows that some counties are very well-known for their specialties. Neck and neck for the preferred beverage I broke the tie for Jumbo Iced Tea! Bottomline is that everyone loves all things fried. Starting the day with donuts moving into veggies, french fries, chicken, corn dogs, sugar waffles, elephant ears/funnel cakes and oreos/snickers. Commodity groups featuring beef, pork, poultry, and dairy were also big hits. Here are the results.


What fair food would you miss if you could not get it this summer?

29 Fried dough—elephant ears, funnel cakes, sugar waffles, donuts-mini (Lerches & Neidermans)

17 Jumbo Iced Tea/Lemonade shake-ups

14 Fried potatoes/Veggies — ribbon fries, French fries, Fiske French fries, zucchini, veggies, blooming onion

11 Pork — tenderloin/pork chop/pork loin sandwiches and pork tator

11 Dairy– Milkshakes, with lone vote for cheese sandwich

9 Chicken — bourbon, fried, wings & noodles

9 Beef — Bowman’s tenderloin, ribeye, Angus burger, half-pound steak burger.

Other fried runners up included walleye/perch sandwiches, fried oreos/snickers, corn dogs and fried cheese. Polish/Italian sausage with onions/peppers was also a fan favorite. Poor cotton candy came in dead last with 1 vote.

I spent the summer of ‘84, working concessions at the Ohio State Fair making baked potatoes in the Bricker building. OMG it was awful. I worked an 8-10-hour shift baking potatoes in a tiny trailer where I am sure I sweat more in 2 weeks than my entire first 45 years of life! I support the carnies 100%, it is super hard work sweating profusely. One of my must haves is the baby elephant ear at The Pastry Mill concessionaire. It features ground whole wheat flour on site and fried to order and perfection. You can choose different toppings but my fave, is old school cinnamon sugar. Their trailer is at the Ohio State Fair (and others). They started selling French waffles at the Ohio State fair in 1966. Talk about sustainability!

No matter what your favorite is, be sure to check your local fairgrounds for fair food this summer. Hopefully soon we will be back to normal and we can enjoy the fruits of the fair together.

Eat well and Healthy,



Lemon Shake Ups


1 lemon halved

3 tbsp sugar

1 1/2 cups ice

1/2 cup water


Squeeze the juice (or use a hand juicer) from the lemon into a quart sized mason jar, a shaker, or anything else you can fill and cover tightly. It just needs to be at least 16 oz. Toss one half of the lemon in with the juice. Add the sugar

Fill the jar/cup/shaker with 1 1/2- 2 cups of ice. Basically, you just want to fill it up to the top. Add enough water to cover the ice

Cover and shake briskly, until the sugar is mostly dissolved. It will turn into this wonderful, sweet “sludge” at the bottom of the cup. Drink straight from your shaker or pour into a glass. Just make sure you get all the sweet goodness out of the cup!

For a nice extra touch, serve in glasses with a sugared rim!


Homemade French Fries

2½ pounds Yukon gold potatoes

6 cups peanut oil


Prepare potatoes by scrubbing, drying, sides squared off, and cut lengthwise into ¼-inch by ¼-inch batons. Combine the potatoes and the oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot. Cook over high heat until oil has reached a rolling boil, about 5 minutes. Continue to cook, without stirring, until potatoes are limp, but exteriors are beginning to firm, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with a double layer of paper towels.

Using tongs, stir potatoes, gently scraping up any that stick, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and crisp, 5 to 10 minutes longer. Using a skimmer or slotted spoon, transfer fries to paper towel-lined baking sheet. Season with salt (and pepper, if desired) and serve immediately.

Note: Do not use sweet potatoes or russet potatoes; the starch content will not hold up to frying in this manner.


Funnel Cake


2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1/4 cup white sugar

1/2 cup milk

1 tsp vanilla

3–4 cups canola or vegetable oil

1 jar marshmallow creme or marshmallow fluff



Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

With a mixer, beat eggs, sugar, milk, and vanilla in a large bowl until foamy and well combined. Carefully add in the flour mixture and mix until you have a smooth, thick batter. Place the batter in a bag or bottle for piping.

Add about 1 inch of oil to a large pot with high sides. Heat the oil to 350 degrees. Pipe the batter in long straight lines into oil and fry until golden, about 30-60 seconds per side. Remove to a plate and serve with powdered sugar while still hot.

Marshmallow Fluff Dip: Place marshmallow creme in a bowl for dipping and warm in the microwave for 15-20 seconds. Stir until smooth and serve with funnel cake fries.

Notes: To Reheat: Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place funnel cake fries on a baking sheet and bake at 450 for 3 minutes.


Easy Homemade Mini Corn Dogs


1 (12-oz.) package hot dogs

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 Tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 large egg

1/2 cup whole milk

Vegetable oil, for frying


lollipop sticks; deep-fry thermometer

Cut each hot dog in half then insert a lollipop stick into the cutoff end of each hot dog. Thoroughly dry off the hot dogs with paper towels.

In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the egg and milk. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until combined using a spoon or spatula. (See Kelly’s Note.)

Add 4 inches of oil to a large, heavy-bottomed stock pot. Attach the deep-fry thermometer then heat the oil over medium-high heat until the thermometer reaches 360ºF. Line a plate with paper towels.

Dip each hot dog in the batter until it is completely coated, lightly shake off the excess then lower it into the hot oil. Fry the corn dog until golden and crispy, about 3 minutes, then transfer it to the paper towel-lined plate. Repeat the breading and frying process with the remaining hot dogs. Serve immediately. Makes 14 mini corn dogs

NOTES: When dipping the hot dogs in the batter, it is easiest if you pour the batter into a tall glass. The lollipop sticks can be fried, so you can carefully lower the corn dogs into the oil, stick and all.

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