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Some of the country’s biggest and best state fairs are taking place, from now until Labor Day, in places like Palmer, Alaska ; Syracuse, New York and Falcon Heights, Minnesota. Others, like the Texas State Fair, in Dallas, which will run from September 27 through October 20, are yet to come. Besides top-drawer entertainment and midway rides, state fairs attract people with ribbon-winning competitions for everything from canning and baking, to quilting, photography and a whole bunch more. There is also the appeal of livestock shows and the agricultural awards that interest fairgoers, in addition to farm exhibits like Alaska’s Giant Cabbage Weigh-Off, where Scott Robb set a new Guiness World Record, in 2012, with his 138.25-pound cabbage. But, even more than concerts, rides, ribbon-winning jams and gargantuan vegetables, folks troll fairgrounds in search of food indigenous to state fairs, especially things that are new and, well –a bit whacky. Already submerged in foods that are fried and/or offered on a stick, it is likely that state fairs will continue to embrace foods that are bizarre, such as Deep-Fried Kool Aid and Deep-Fried Coca-Cola, as well as Deep-Fried Spaghetti and Meatballs on-a-stick , Country-Fried Bacon on-a-stick and – yikes! – Deep-Fried Butter on-a-stick, into perpetuity. With approximately 450 food choices available from 300 vendors, including 60-plus food-on-a-stick options, the Minnesota State Fair is outdoing itself with new foods for this year’s fair that include items such as Wine-Glazed Deep-Fried Meatloaf on-a-stick, Deep-Fried Bread Pudding and Comet Corn, “a futuristic caramel corn made with liquid nitrogen.” For a current list of state fairs for the rest of 2013, visit www.ncstatefair.com, or, bring the fair home, with these easy recipes for state fair staples such as caramel corn, funnel cakes and the ubiquitous corn dog.

Sue Ade is a syndicated food writer with broad experience and interest in the culinary arts. She has worked and resided in the Lowcountry of South Carolina since 1985 and may be reached at kitchenade@yahoo.com.

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