Fair Food

I didn’t make a big deal about it last month but you all know that I wasn’t happy about the announcement that there won’t be a State Fair this year.  I certainly understand the decision and actually agree with it, but it’s still sad for me. I’ll miss the animals and the people-watching, the entertainment and so some extent, the food.  However I’m not one of those folks who “has” to have fair food (well, except for the Hawaiian Shave Ice).

Over the last couple of weeks a Facebook group for Fair Food Finds has popped up; lots of the fair food vendors are setting up in various places around the Twin Cities and there are lots of posts about when and where you can go get your pronto pups, cheese curds, mini-donuts and lots of other yummies.

At first I was excited about this and thought it might be a fun road trip for YA and me.  But it seems like everything is REALLY far away from us – Stillwater, Elk River, Elko and the like.  I somehow can’t get worked up about driving quite that far for fair food.  A two-hour roundtrip for mini donuts doesn’t pass muster as a good use of time and gas.  I’ll keep watching the posts but I’m not confident that I’ll be eating any fair food favorites any time soon.  Rats.

Any foods that would get you to take a roadtrip?

63 thoughts on “Fair Food”

  1. cheese curds are with the drive if they’re the right curds. they also came up with another cheese curd vendor down by linda’s animal barn where they do the dogs and cats but those curds are terrible.
    i also crave the noodles in the international area . i like them but always hesitate at $10 for a cup of noodles. that plus a drive might make it a pass.

    the harley davidson shop in eden prairie had a mini donut/lemonade the last 2 or 3 weekends and had lines that were really long so i guess folks like their state fair food alright.

    i think if the fair happened without food i’d be less than thrilled. same with one food variation without the state fair to go with it

    an ear of corn might be the exception. that and curds (and cheese on a stick) are my fair favorites

    not an hours worth but maybe for a stop if they are on route

    i have a vision of opening the potato pancake food venue at the fair . maybe this is the way to test it.
    wannabe fair food
    potato pancakes $5

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I like the cheese curds that they have up near the pet center. But even a small order is too much for me to eat by myself so I only get them when I’m with YA.


      1. my potato pancakes are like blooming onions
        long potato shavings with lots of onion

        can decide to stay purist or offer with apple mixed in garlic bacon and or plant protein sausage bacon

        when i think of ladies i think of a pancake
        when i think of potato pancakes i think of desert plate 3/4” thick brown crispy with apple sauce or sour cream

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    I visited the mini-donut stand in EP. They were good. I doubt that I would travel far for these, however.

    I regularly buy my meat in Iowa when I go to visit my mother. I went this last weekend for a 30 min patio visit which was mom’s limit to be sure. Monday before leaving for home, I stopped at Fareway Foods, the Iowa chain that has the old-style meat counter that I like. Fareway, like Hy-Vee, has ventured into MN from Iowa, The closest one to me is in Owatonna, but I am in Iowa often enough that I just load up my electric cooler and make my purchases when I am there.

    It appears that Mom’s facility will continue to allow patio visits, so I will travel again in a month to visit. My mother always talks about how much she loved her mother’s pancakes. I have often heard her say, “I’d do anything to taste those again.” Of course, those pancakes were made with their own eggs and buttermilk, fresh from the barn and chicken house. The butter was churned at home, too (mom’s job). Given the short farm-to-table trip involved, they probably were very good. They cured their own bacon, too. And grandpa kept his own bees, so the honey was used for pancakes or biscuits.

    Liked by 9 people

  3. Not exactly a drive we’d make specifically for this place, but we have gone on road trips where on several occasions we arranged our return home to coincide with stopping at Smokey D’s BBQ in Des Moines for a late lunch. We’ve discussed driving down there solely to eat, but that’s a 6-hour round trip for some of the best BBQ we’ve ever tasted. So far, we’ve never pulled the trigger on that trip. But if gas were $0.25/gallon and the speed limit was raised to 100 mph, then maybe . . .

    Chris in Owatonna.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. You could make it a special occasion and make reservations to stay overnight at my favorite little hotel in Perry, Hotel Pattee. We’ve been there four times, each time staying in a different room. Highly recommend it, it’s a treasure:

      Liked by 3 people

      1. We go the the location in North Des Moines, just off the freeway (I-80 & I-35 just west of where 35 heads north again). There are two other locations on the south side just off I-235.


  4. We often stop at the butcher shop in Mandan when we pass through for their ground round and steaks.

    My friend who will live with us upon retirement wants to keep bees. I don’t think she wants a milk cow.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. She used to have a Guernsey named Rosie when she was a girl. The milk went into the cream separator. I don’t think we will have room for a cream separator.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. On the very rare occasions when I get dragged to the State Fair, I’m never attracted by any of the carnival food. It doesn’t call to me. As far as food specialty items, I have been known to range pretty far around the city for quality and authenticity— Holy Land for Middle Eastern, Kramarczuk’s for sausage, Hackenmueller’s in Robbinsdale for ham, Morelli’s in St. Paul for Italian sausage. United Noodle is in our neighborhood, so Asian specialties don’t require a trek.

    Our road trips, quixotic as some of them are, have rarely had a specific food destination. We’re always on the look out for memorable food, of course, but more often than not we have been underwhelmed.

    About the only road trip for food we make is our annual drive to pick blueberries near Maiden Rock, Wisconsin. They’re ripe now but we’ll wait until it’s not ninety degrees.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. I wouldn’t say that I drive to Madison to get Stella‘s Chili Cheese Bread, but it is something that I get every time I go to visit my friend who lives there. In fact last summer I bought four and put three of them in the freezer when I got home. Then in September when I went down to Rochester to visit said friend (who is there for a week for treatment), she brought cheese bread for me that she had purchased on her way out of town. It is a sad state of affairs that I am not going to Madison this summer so no chili cheese bread. Great Harvest’s cheddar jalapeño is nice but isn’t close.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. A burger at the Lion’s Tap in Eden Prairie.- it’s all they do, burgers of all kinds, fries, some home brew. Best burger I can remember, but I haven’t had the Juicy Lucy yet. We used to go to Miller Spring to load up on drinking water, and the Tap was just a few blocks away…

    Steve and I have lauded the original Maid Rites in central Iowa – steamed loose-meat burgers…

    Thinking of others…

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Convention Grill in Edina used to put out a good burger. Haven’t been there in years, though. When I worked in Minnetonka on the edge of Eden Prairie we used to sometimes go to Lions Tap for lunch. There was another good burger place, now long gone, called the Wil-Hop Inn on Williston Road.
      You probably remember, Barbara, that there was briefly a Maid-Rite in Robbinsdale. I went there once. Didn’t get the appeal.

      Fun Fact: When Brookdale Center first opened, there was, on the perimeter, a drive-in restaurant called Jay’s that was the first fully automated restaurant in the country (There was a second Jay’s somewhere else, I think, but they both opened about the same time. You would place your order and the food would be completely prepared without human intervention. Naturally the menu was limited. The restaurant didn’t last long.



      1. You’re right, Bill – the short-lived one in R’dale didn’t get it – way to skimpy on the meat, and something else. I remember so looking forward to it, and then… meh.

        Convention Grill’s chicken noodle soup would be another reason to drive there.


      2. You just reminded me of a funny story about ?Convention Grill. When the Child was about six we went to Convention Grill because of the french fries. Child was crazy about french fries. And of course the Convention Grill has a massive order of french fries. When we ordered a whole order, the waitress tried to talk us into a half order. Even after I said no we want the full order, the waitress brought half saying that the kitchen had made a mistake. I’m sure she thought she was doing us a favor and I would be happy in the long run. Of coarse Child plowed through the half order and the waitress was forced to bring another half order before our meal was complete. She was embarrassed about the whole thing and only charged us for the first half order, not the second half order.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Any of you had the ‘Smash Fries’ from Smashburger? Those are good fries! And their burgers are pretty good too.
          They’ve changed; a few years ago there was more options on the bun and such, but they’re still good. Almost as good as Five Guys. (Speaking of a lot of fries). But I don’t like their fries as well.

          Liked by 2 people

    2. People in EP are having fits about a change in Lion’s Tap menu. Apparently they are using a different kind of French Fries. No one is happy. I do not care for their food anyway.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve driven to Nelson WI for ice cream. And the cold cheese curds.
    There were pizza places in Chicago that we always looked forward too. Granted we didn’t drive down there JUST for the pizza, but as long as we were there… 🙂

    I heard there was a mini-donut place in Rochester, but I haven’t found it yet.

    Who here is familiar with Kings Place in Miesville MN? We heard really good things about their hamburgers so drove there for burgers once. Eh. They were burgers. I’m glad I can say I’ve been there now.

    VS, remember, it’s not the destination, it’s the journey. Get the donuts.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I too had heard about the burgers at Kings Place. Miesville is never a destination and when we drive through it’s never at a suitable time to stop. Good to know there isn’t a good reason to.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. I’ve had a burger from Kings Place is Miesville once. It was good but I don’t recall it being anything special. One place that did have a really good burger was The Choo Choo Bar and Grill in Superior. I wouldn’t drive there specifically to get one but if in the area, would certainly go back there.

      Liked by 3 people

  9. I wouldn’t argue that the ice cream in Selma’s Ice Cream Parlor is worth making the drive to Afton. But if you’ve driven to Afton and maybe hiked the rolling hills overlooking the St Croix River, a stop at Selma’s would be a wonderful idea.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. There used to be a truck stop in Rochester 30 years ago. It had really good home cooked food and I ate their fairly often.


  10. There was a time when Kelly had Wednesday afternoons off and we’d go find a different place for lunch each week. Small town diners were generally the best.
    I had a burger in the restaurant attached to the Zumbrota Livestock Auction Market that was really good.
    And there was a diner in Wabasha that was really good.

    I heard there is a Waldos Pizza in St. Cloud. Can anyone tell me if it’s as good as the Waldos pizza in Rochester in the ‘80’s?

    Liked by 4 people

  11. Not a huge State Fair fan, have only been there a handful of times in thirty-eight years, so I’m no expert on fair food. The smell of all of that fried stuff just isn’t enticing to me. A glass of cold milk or beer sounds good, but between my aching feet, sensory overload from noise, smells, and the crowds, I lose my appetite.

    I consider driving to Stillwater a road trip, and I have done that on several occasions for dinner. On one occasion, for our twentieth anniversary if I remember correctly, we had booked a stay at a lovely B&B within walking distance of La Belle Vie where we had dinner. For another anniversary, we had dinner on a train that also had some sort of musical performance, neither the food nor the performance were all that great, but it was a fun evening nevertheless. I also attended a cooking class by Deborah Madison at Cooks of Crocus Hills’ Stillwater store, that, too, was a fun evening. The dinner at La Belle Vie was exquisite, I’m really sorry that they moved from Stillwater to Minneapolis and subsequently closed, it was truly a great restaurant. Gasthaus Bavarian Hunter is another fun restaurant to visit if you like traditional German fare.

    Back during my single days between marriages, I had dinner at the old Schumacher Hotel in New Prague, and that was good, though not sure it was worth that long, not very scenic, drive. Then again, a bunch of my women friends and I drove to Toby’s in Hinckley once to meet up with a couple of friends from Duluth for dinner. We all knew that was crazy, but I guess it was the only place we could think of to meet sort of halfway.

    I’d drive to Pepin, Wisconsin for dinner at the Harbor View Cafe, though we haven’t been there since the employees took it over some years ago, but I’m assuming they still have good food, and it’s a lovely drive.

    Liked by 4 people

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