Words of Whimsy

Minnesota State Fair Preview! Family Food & Fun – Part 1

Starting a small business can be scary, anxious, stressful…and tasty! Whimsy Factory Co-Founder and Words of Whimsy chief writer Heather was recently invited to an AMAZING event for Minnesota bloggers sponsored by the Minnesota State Fair – here’s her story:

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I love the fair. I jealously guard my fair trips each year, and if I invite you along, you might not know it, but it’s a huge compliment. Possibly a privilege. My family is a serious fair family, and we don’t have time or patience for non fair appreciators. And it’s not because we don’t get to visit often – one year we went 12 times!

This fair, also known as THE fair, is (of course) the Minnesota State Fair. Over the years I have been a guest, an employee, a demonstrator, a volunteer, and a competitor at the “Great Minnesota Get Together.” Even my extended family is fair-crazy – one cousin got engaged at the fair, and we threw another a fair-themed bridal shower that I promise to share here sometime (it was adorable). From 2006-2013 we lived within walking distance of the fairgrounds, and while some people would take vacation time during those 12 days and high tail it out of town – we’d take our vacation…and spend it at the fair! So you can imagine when the fair put out a call for bloggers interested in a preview of family friendly food & fun at the 2015 Minnesota State Fair – I could barely contain myself.

There are SO MANY amazing treats, shows, exhibits, shops, activities, and other ways to enjoy the fair, I know this is going to require more than one post. So let’s just start with the obvious – the fair is a sparkling wonderland of tastes, and worth attending for the food alone. And as always, there are some great new ones for 2015! The delightful staff and vendors of the upcoming fair treated myself and other local bloggers to a sampling of just a few of these amazements, and I am totally shocked and excited to share my top 3 favorites with you:

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#1 – Totchos from Boulevard Grill inside the Coliseum (Lancer Catering)

My clear favorite, and a total shocker to me – the “Totchos” tater-tot nachos from Boulevard Grill! YOU GUYS… I’m eating major crow here. I’ve always written off the concessions in the coliseum, and frankly Lancer Catering as we experience them year round at many other events and facilities like the Minnesota Zoo. They didn’t seem “special enough” for fair food. DO NOT MAKE THIS MISTAKE! The Totchos are fantastic. Their tots were the thinner coin-shaped style so they were both crispy and soft, complimented (but not overwhelmed) by seasoning and toppings including bacon, cheese, and a light sour cream that I usually won’t touch but ended up licking the bowl clean. And then when everyone got up to take photos, I walked over and stole a 2nd helping. And I ate 100% of that one too. I am not ashamed. Miss P loves tots, and I love shopping all the little stands in the coliseum and cooling off there on hot days – these are DEFINITELY on the top of our list this year. Their chef also mentioned you can add chicken or beef!

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#2 – Salted Caramel Puff Malt (shake) from Dairy Goodness Bar in Empire Commons/Dairy Building

My husband gets a malt from the “moo booth” each and every year, and I always blow it off, thinking “I can get a basic malt anywhere,” right? Save the room for something unique? Well once again I’m changing my ways, because the Dairy Goodness Bar has started a new tradition of creating a “people’s choice” flavor each year, and it’s both unique and TASTY. This year it is Salted Caramel Puff – a lightly caramel ice cream base with a layer of puff corn and a caramel drizzle on top. This was the first item we were served at the preview, and I think both myself and Gianna from Family Fun Twin Cities finished the entire serving before we could even look at the rest of the food, it was that good. This is absolutely worth a wait in the Dairy Bar line, and that is coming from someone who is not traditionally a huge caramel fan. The salty-sweet combo with the puffcorn is spot on. While you are picking one up, be sure to cast your vote for next year’s crowdsourced flavor too.

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#3 – Maple Bacon Funnel Cake from Funnel Cakes in the Food Building

I’m running out of ways to say “I’ve been wrong about this all my life,” but here it is again. The first time I had a funnel cake was at an amusement park where I yakked my guts out (likely for other reasons), so I kinda had an aversion most of my life, and never gave it another chance. I think this cured me. The texture was perfect – slightly crispy, not doughy – and I was impressed immediately that the bacon was “real, soft bacon” – not dried junk people are trying to pass off in order to jump on the bacon trendwagon. The maple flavor comes in the form of a light frosting/glaze drizzled over the top, with a little whipped cream and a cherry to complete the plate. To me it was like a waffle with a better texture – the maple + bacon + sweet fried dough flavors definitely bring breakfast to mind, and I know a little waffle fan (and whipped cream fan) who will LOVE to try this one out.

FairFood4Other treats we sampled that are new to the fair this year include a Mac & Cheese Cupcake from Lulus Public House, Grilled Venetian-style Pizza from Mancini’s Al Fresco, Grandma Deb’s Snicker Bar Salad from The Blue Barn, and Stuffed Italian Meatloaf on a Stick from Green Mill.

As you can tell, my Fair love runneth over, and I have much more to share as the happy event nears – keep following Words of Whimsy for additional posts. But for now, I want to extend a HUGE thanks to the Minnesota State Fair and Alice Seuffert of Dining with Alice for putting on the “Great Minnesota Blog Together,”  the amazing vendors who shared these treats with us. If you’d like to check out more perspectives, try these Minnesota blogstars:

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(more to be linked as they are posted)

 

Don’t forget to play today! ~Heather