Here's Where to Get Your Fair Food Fix This Year
Minnesota’s state fair, like many around the Midwest, has been cancelled for this year due to coronavirus concerns. That was a big hit for a lot of small food vendors—and a disappointment for the two million fairgoers used to lining up for treats like corn dogs and cheese curd tacos.
But the state fair recently announced a 2020 "food parade," described as "a meandering drive-thru experience featuring 16 vendors and a chance to support the Great Minnesota Get-Together." A limited number of tickets ($20 per vehicle) will be sold for Aug. 20-23, Aug. 27-30 and Sept. 3-7. Iowa, Wisconsin and Kansas have also announced fair food alternatives.
In addition to the scheduled events, some vendors are setting up food booths on their own. In Minnesota, a public Facebook group, Minnesota State Fair Food Finder, was started to help you find them. More than 164,000 people have joined, listing places to buy rolled ice cream, frozen lemonade, deep-fried pickles, cheese curds, corn dogs, raspberry cheese wontons and more.
Crossroads Center in Saint Cloud makes a good place to start; Miller Concessions promises “all fair food favorites in one location all summer.”
Indiana also has a public Facebook group called Indiana Fair Food Finder. You can find vendors for fried pickles, pork tenderloin, lemon shake-ups and more at various locations around the state.
In Iowa, Fair Food Fridays hosted by Brenda Smith Concessions welcome orders for foods like cheese on a stick, funnel cake, fried Snickers and turkey legs.
Also in Iowa, the state fair is holding Taste of the Fair food events July 24-26 and July 31-Aug. 2. Each weekend features about 20 different vendors. Admission and parking are free.
Wisconsin is promoting Fair Food Drive-Thru weekends July 23-26, July 30-Aug. 2, Aug. 6-9 and Aug. 13-16. Cars will follow a one-way route; vendors and food offerings change each weekend.
Kansas will hold a Fair Food & Tunes Weekend Aug. 21-22 with both food and music.
Some vendors sell their fair food year-round. In Des Moines, you can buy Bauder's thick, chocolate-topped peppermint ice cream bars at Bauder's on Ingersoll Avenue. Sweet Martha's Cookie Dough, famous from cookie sales at the Minnesota State Fair, is sold in the frozen dessert section of Twin Cities-area grocery stories and other select locations throughout the Midwest.