Scrapple Burgers and Dogs in Delaware State Fair, Delaware
Jason S./Yelp

The Most Outrageous Foods at State Fairs Across America

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Scrapple Burgers and Dogs in Delaware State Fair, Delaware
Jason S./Yelp

Deep-Fried Fun

State and county fairs remain one of the best places for cheap warm-weather fun, but most fairgoers are more than ready to bust their budgets and their diets when it comes to the food. Kooky, calorie-dense and often coated in batter, fair food is as big a draw as all the rides and entertainment. You'll find staples such as corn dogs and cotton candy just about everywhere, but there are some unique eats that may be worth a drive. Here are some of the tastiest, craziest and most celebrated fair foods across the country, according to reviews from expert food writers and thousands of hungry fairgoers. 


Note: Since most fairs weren't open last year, many fairs have been given late dates, and some vendors have been impacted by the pandemic, not every tasty favorite will likely be available.


Related: 24 Weird, Surprising, and Over-the-Top Foods on a Stick

Luther Burger
Luther Burger by 1SarahSmith (CC BY-ND)
Smoked Salmon Quesadillas
Smoked Salmon Quesadillas by Pan Pacific (CC BY)

Alaska: Salmon Quesadillas

Alaska State Fair
Sure, you can get all the typical state fair standbys in Alaska, but the local offerings are so much more intriguing. They include salmon quesadillas, deep-fried halibut, and spicy reindeer dogs (if you can stomach eating Rudolph, that is). Another longtime favorite: Talkeetna spinach bread, smothered in garlic and cheese.

Navajo Taco
Navajo Taco by Matt Malone (CC BY-NC)

Arizona: Navajo Tacos

Arizona State Fair
A Navajo taco includes all the classic taco fixings you might expect — beans, beef, cheese, and veggies — tucked inside a puffy, plate-size base of fry bread, a Native American staple. Other fair favorites with a local twist here include deep-fried tamales and chile relleno dogs. Make sure you bring your Pepto!

Barbecue Parfait in Arkansas State Fair, Arkansas
Karen L./Yelp

Arkansas: Barbecue Parfait

Arkansas State Fair
It sounds gross until you realize there's nothing sweet involved here: It's just tender smoked brisket layered with baked beans, barbecue sauce, and mashed potatoes, served up in a cup — perfect for eating while strolling. Add some coleslaw if you're feeling adventurous. But if you really want to walk on the wild side, there's also pizza with toppings such as crickets, grubs, and scorpions.


Related: 20 Utterly Disgusting Things That Are Surprisingly Useful

Dole Whip
Dole Whip by Like_the_Grand_Canyon (CC BY-NC)

California: Dole Whips

California State Fair
Bad new for fair fans — Cal Expo will remain a vaccination supersite until the end of September, and though the fair will return later in the year, it will be a "slimmed down version." But there's a chance the iconic pineapple-flavored soft serve usually found solely at Disneyland and Disney World will return to the fair. We just hope you don't have to stand in a Space Mountain-size line to get it. 


Related: 25 Official Disney Recipes That Will Make Your Kitchen the Happiest Place on Earth

Rocky Mountain Oysters at the Colorado State Fair
Rocky Mountain Oysters at the Colorado State Fair by Holly (CC BY-NC-ND)

Colorado: Rocky Mountain Oysters

Colorado State Fair
If you've spent much time out west, you know exactly what Rocky Mountain Oysters aren't: oysters. Indeed, they're actually deep-fried bull testicles, a well-known local favorite. But that's not the weirdest thing to ever grace the Colorado fair. If you really have an iron stomach, be on the lookout for a maggot melt sandwich.

Big Donut in Berlin Fair, Connecticut
Francisco M./Yelp

Connecticut: Big Donut

Berlin Fair
Connecticut doesn't have its own big state fair, but the Berlin Fair is one of the larger community fairs. A favorite here? "The Big Donut," born from a 70 year-old family recipe. And it's exactly what it sounds like: A simple, sugary doughnut that just happens to be the size of a plate. Bon appetit!


Related: 50 Beloved Hometown Bakeries Across America

Scrapple Burgers and Dogs in Delaware State Fair, Delaware
Jason S./Yelp

Delaware: Scrapple Burgers and Dogs

Delaware State Fair
Hot dogs and burgers are state fair staples, but in Delaware, they get a local twist when they're loaded up with a heaping helping of scrapple. For the uninitiated, scrapple is a mid-Atlantic dish that's a little bit like sausage, but includes even the least-savory parts of the pig (think snouts, tongue, skin, and even brains). The meat is usually mixed with a grain such as cornmeal, then formed into a mushy loaf. Er, yum?


Related: Signature Cheap Eats From Every State

Catfish
peredniankina/istockphoto

Florida: Catfish Sundae

Florida State Fair
Move over, barbecue parfait: You've got competition in Florida. The catfish sundae is a bowl full of local yum: You'll get hand-cut fries piled high with southern fried catfish, then drizzled with either a remoulade or a tangy tartar sauce. Chase it with deep-fried strawberry shortcake from the same booth.


Related: 20 Amazing Seafood Shacks Across America

Deep Fried Kool-Aid
Deep Fried Kool-Aid by jlwelsh (CC BY)
Seared Ahi in 50th State Fair, Hawaii
Jarod H./Yelp

Hawaii: Seared Ahi

50th State Fair
Sure, you can get corn dogs and funnel cakes at the fair in Hawaii (which wrapped up this year on June 25th), but why would you? There were plenty of local favorites to indulge in, such as seared ahi tuna served up on hapa rice — that's a mix of white and brown — or lau lau, which is pork wrapped in taro leaves to seal in the juicy flavor. Expect more Hawaiian treats in 2022.


Related: The Best of Hawaii on a Budget

Potato Ice Cream
Potato Ice Cream by Chrissy Wainwright (CC BY-NC)

Idaho: Ice Cream Potato

Western Idaho Fair
Ice ... cream ... potato? Only in Idaho. Actually, it's not really a potato — your sweet treat is merely masquerading as Idaho's most famous food export. Standing in for the potato is an oblong ball of vanilla ice cream rolled in cocoa powder. It's sliced in half and topped with whipped cream instead of sour cream, then topped off with nuts and crushed Oreos.

Deep-Fried S'mores in Illinois State Fair, Illinois
Kim N./Yelp

Illinois: Deep-Fried S'mores

Illinois State Fair
S'mores are an iconic summer classic, so why not give them the typical fair treatment and fry 'em? This treat wowed judges at the 2017 Illinois State Fair, taking first place for creativity. Bacon lovers should consider the Pork Hullabaloo for their main entree: That's pork belly wrapped in bacon, glazed with bacon marmalade.


Related: 15 Ways to Enjoy S'mores, From Basic to Boozy

Maple Smoked Brisket
jjpoole/istockphoto
IMG_8804-6
IMG_8804-6 by Christi (CC BY-NC-ND)

Iowa: Thanksgiving Balls

Iowa State Fair
If the summer heat has you ready for a taste of cooler weather, consider hunting down some Thanksgiving balls at the Iowa State Fair. Made with Iowa turkey and traditional harvest veggies, they're breaded with stuffing and deep-fried, then topped off with cranberry sauce.

Don't Have Buttermilk? Try Pickle Juice
Pawel_B/istockphoto
Tater Tots
Joseph_Fotografie/istockphoto
boudin blanc
boudin blanc by Southern Foodways Alliance (CC BY)

Louisiana: Crawfish and Crab Boudin

State Fair of Louisiana
Boudin is a Cajun standby that just happens to be perfectly suited for the midway. It's a sausage made from rice and parts of the pig that are typically cast off, plus plenty of spices. More local favorites you'll see at the fair: fried crawfish, sausage cornbread, and alligator meat.

Maine Lobster Roll
Maine Lobster Roll by Navin75 (CC BY-SA)

Maine: Lobster Rolls

Fryeburg Fair
Like many Northeastern states, Maine doesn't have a big statewide fair, but the Fryeburg Fair comes close. Local nonprofit vendors serve up Maine favorites such as lobster rolls and fish chowder, though the fair has plenty of traditional fried favorites, too. Also popular: The massive slices of pizza from Sunflower Farm.

Corn and Old Bay
Corn and Old Bay by Karen Thornton (CC BY)

Maryland: Corn With Old Bay

Maryland State Fair
You can never go wrong with fresh corn on the cob at the fair. At Maryland's state fair, they take it one step further and sprinkle it with Old Bay, that iconic and essential seafood seasoning. Hankering for a meatier local delicacy? Look for a crab patty, which loads up a tasty Maryland crab cake with a soft-shell crab on top.


Related: 17 Essential Items That Your Pantry Is Missing

GIANT PUFF!
GIANT PUFF! by Honey Bunny (CC BY-NC-ND)

Massachusetts: Giant Cream Puffs

The Big E
The Big E functions as the major state fair for all of the Northeast, and it has the wide variety of crazy fair food befitting of a regional event. But for well over a decade, the signature dish here has been the giant Big E Cream Puff, made with massive scoops of cream and topped off with a generous amount of powdered sugar.

raw chocolate milk
raw chocolate milk by tracy benjamin (CC BY-NC-ND)

Michigan: Endless Chocolate Milk

Michigan State Fair
Dairy farming is big business in much of the Great Lakes, including Michigan. It's only fitting that the state fair pay homage, then, by giving visitors the opportunity to guzzle as much chocolate milk as they can for just $1. Of course, there's plenty of ice cream to be had, too.

Minnesota Corn Dog in Minnesota State Fair, Minnesota
Mandy H./Yelp

Minnesota: Minnesota Corn Dog

Minnesota State Fair
Minnesota might have some of the nation's best fair food. Case in point: Its own state-specific twist on a corn dog, featuring ground sausage tossed with blueberries, apples, wild rice, and maple syrup. Spam sushi — which rolls grilled Spam and fried egg in sushi rice, and nori — has also been known to feed fairgoers.

Beer-Battered Burgers in Mississippi State Fair, Mississippi
Julius C./Yelp

Mississippi: Beer-battered Burgers

Mississippi State Fair
Why stop at simply frying the meat of your burger when you can dunk the entire thing in a frying basket of hot beer batter? The same vendor has served porkychos, in which pork rinds stand in for tortilla chips and are topped with barbeque, jalapenos, and other toppings.

Pork Chops
MCCAIG/istockphoto

Missouri: Pork, Pork, and More Pork

Missouri State Fair
Pork is big business in Missouri, and the only evidence you need is the Missouri Pork Association's standalone state-fair restaurant, The Pork Place, a fixture since 1979. Here, fairgoers can sit down in air-conditioned comfort and scarf down pork chops, pulled pork, ribs, pork burgers — you get the idea. There's even a pork loin salad.

Deep Fried Meatballs
libin jose/istockphoto

Montana: Viking on a Stick

MontanaFair
This staple of Montana's biggest fair is essentially a giant meatball that's put on a stick, covered in a thick coating of batter, and fried. It's topped with "an undisclosed combination of Scandinavian spices" — and served in a "boat," of course. You can also grab some lefse, a Norwegian flatbread.

Beef burger with melted cheese and onions
MarianVejcik/istockphoto
Deep Fried Snickers
Deep Fried Snickers by Amy Aletheia Cahill (CC BY-SA)

Nevada: Deep-Fried Snickers

Nevada State Fair
Nevada's state fair rose from the ashes of a couple of years ago after financial woes forced a multiyear hiatus. Though it's smaller than many other state fairs, you can still find all the fried favorites here. Our vote: Go with a classic fried Snickers.

Apple cider doughnuts
Apple cider doughnuts by Stef Noble (CC BY-NC-ND)

New Hampshire: Apple Cider Doughnuts

Hopkinton State Fair
One of New Hampshire's biggest fairs, Hopkinton boasts all the staple fair foods you'd expect. If you can tear yourself away from all the gluttonous food on a stick, it's hard to beat the region's famous apple cider, apple cider doughnuts, or apple crisp. Pat's is one vendor that hits most of the state's big fairs, including Hopkinton.


Related: 24 Weird, Surprising, and Over-the-Top Foods on a Stick

You'll never know if you don't try. Deep fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
You'll never know if you don't try. Deep fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich. by Martin Criminale (CC BY-SA)

New Jersey: Deep-Fried Peanut Butter and Jelly

State Fair Meadowlands
If it's fried, you can find it at the State Fair Meadowlands, one of two big statewide fairs in New Jersey. On the menu previously? Deep-fried wads of pink bubblegum, courtesy of the perfectly named Crazy Fried Things booth, were available for the brave. This year, peanut butter and jelly gets a turn in the deep fryer.

Inside the funnel cake booth, vendor is pouring funnelcake batter though a funnel into boiling hot oil to make a popular fair/festival dessert.
Aneese/istockphoto

New Mexico: Green Chile Pepperoni Funnel Cake

New Mexico State Fair
Chiles are a New Mexico staple, and funnel cakes are a fair staple, so this mashup is a match made in heaven. While 2019 proclaimed the Oreo Ice Cream Taco the winner of the fair's taste test, the 2017 winner packed more of a punch (to our thinking, anyway). A chile funnel cake fused mozzarella cheese, green chiles, and pepperoni before being fried and topped with pizza sauce. If that's not enough, ranch dressing was an ideal dunk.

Camel Spiedie in The Great New York State Fair, New York
Louis R./Yelp

New York: Camel Spiedie

The Great New York State Fair
The spiedie, a sandwich made up of meat cubes soaked in an Italian dressing-like marinade, originated in Binghamton, New York. Of course, the meat is usually something pedestrian such as chicken or lamb, but in previous years a camel spiedie and one with kangaroo have been available, too.

Drink Cheerwine
Drink Cheerwine by Ross Catrow (CC BY-SA)

North Carolina: Cheerwine Funnel Cake

North Carolina State Fair
North Carolinians love their Cheerwine, a red cherry soda that's been made locally for more than 100 years. So it's only natural that Cheerwine won a starring role at the North Carolina State Fair in one of the most iconic fair foods of 'em all: the funnel cake. Also on offer: Cheerwine cake, made with a honey-infused frosting and finished with chocolate shavings.

Peanut Butter
gvictoria/istockphoto

North Dakota: Peanut Butter Squealer

North Dakota State Fair
Who wouldn't love this competitor in the 2021 Food Frenzy competition at this years's fair? The Peanut Butter Squealer is a breakfast sausage baked inside a Belgian Waffle and then covered with peanut butter sauce and bacon. It is, of course, served on a stick.

Buckeyes 028
Buckeyes 028 by Cheryl Bennett (CC BY-ND)

Ohio: Deep-Fried Buckeyes

Ohio State Fair
This year's Ohio State Fair will not be open to the public, instead focusing on agricultural and livestock competitions for exhibitors and their guests, but that just means food fans will have to wait until next year for a well-loved, decadent treat. Ohio doesn't have a state dessert, but if it did, it would certainly be the candy buckeye, a tooth-achingly rich combination of peanut butter and chocolate. At the fair, they're promptly dunked in sizzling batter and served up on a stick. If you really want to go for the gold, one vendor has been known to wrap the buckeyes in bacon before frying them.

Making Crepes
Stephen Barnes/istockphoto

Oklahoma: Unicorn Crepes

Oklahoma State Fair
In previous years, Oklahoma jumped in on the unicorn craze with its unicorn crepe. It's made with an eye-popping blue crepe shell that's filled with raspberry mousse and pop rocks, topped with cotton candy, and drizzled in chocolate. Prefer a savory "dessert"? Try the bacon cheddar meatloaf cupcake. You'll get even get mashed potato "icing" and cheese "sprinkles."

Stampede 2016 - Day 00: Best New Food
Stampede 2016 - Day 00: Best New Food by Reg Tiangha (CC BY)

Oregon: Deep-Fried Coffee

Oregon State Fair
The Oregon State Fair was called off last year, but offered treats via drive-thru, but this year promises a return to deep-fried form. The Pacific Northwest is known for its coffee, so it was only a matter of time before someone thought to serve deep-fried coffee at the fair. (Granted, you can't actually deep-fry coffee, so coffee is mixed into funnel cake batter, fried, and soaked in a coffee syrup.) If you're more of a traditionalist, you'll also find 2-foot corn dogs and elephant ears the size of steering wheels.

Philly Cheesesteak
TheCrimsonMonkey/istockphoto

Pennsylvania: Cheesesteak

Bloomsburg Fair
There's no big state fair in Pennsylvania, but there are plenty of county fairs to seek out. One of the biggest is the Bloomsburg Fair, where cheesesteaks are king despite stiff competition from hundreds of vendors. Fairgoers flock to Vince's for this traditional favorite, but if you're dying to try something more exotic, go for the jerky: You can choose from tarantula, alpaca, kangaroo, and scorpion, among other varieties.

Clam Cakes in Washington County Fair, Rhode Island
Damon D./Yelp

Rhode Island: Clam Cakes

Washington County Fair
One of the biggest fairs in little Rhode Island is the Washington County Fair, where you'll find plenty of local food to go with the predictable fair favorites. Offerings include clam cakes, a statewide summer staple that is fried — of course — and perfect for spritzing with lemon or dipping in chowder. Satisfy your sweet tooth afterward with some fresh strawberry shortcake.

Sriracha Chicken and Waffle Sliders in South Carolina State Fair, South Carolina
Sriracha Chicken and Waffle Sliders in South Carolina State Fair, South Carolina by Malingering (CC BY-NC-ND)
Barbecue
esemelwe/istockphoto

South Dakota: Rattlesnake Bratwurst

South Dakota State Fair
South Dakota's only venomous snake is the prairie rattlesnake, so what better place than the South Dakota State Fair to make rattlers your next meal? Of course, there are also some brats filled with slightly more traditional local favorites, including elk and buffalo meat.

Deep-fried Goo Goo Clusters
Amazon
Taco Cones
Estudio conceito/istockphoto

Texas: Stuffed Fried Taco Cone

Texas State Fair
In 2019, the Big Tex Choice Award winner in the savory category was this tasty treat.  Slow-cooked barbacoa was served in a ice cream cone-shaped tortilla shell with black beans and cilantro lime rice and topped with pico de gallo, quest fresco, and salsa verde. It's a good bet this easy-to-eat choice will be back year, but if it doesn't appeal you can clog your arteries by downing some fried butter.

DSC04027
DSC04027 by RosieTulips (CC BY-NC-ND)
Maple Creemee in Vermont State Fair, Vermont
Kristian D./Yelp

Vermont: Maple Creemee

Vermont State Fair
What's a maple creemee? It's pure Vermont on a cone — or more specifically, soft-serve vanilla ice cream whipped with maple syrup. Maple shakes and even maple shaved ice have also been offered at the state fair. Another longtime favorite is Roxie's Fries, made fresh by locals and devoured by fairgoers every year.

Country ham biscuits
Holly Cromer/istockphoto

Virginia: Deep-Fried Ham Biscuits

State Fair of Virginia
One of Virginia's most well-known foods, the ham biscuit, started getting the typical fair treatment a few years ago when vendors began dunking it in the deep fryer. Deep-fried Swiss Cake Roll and Pop-Tarts have also been offered.

Raspberry scone
KathyDewar/istockphoto

Washington: Scones

Washington State Fair
Compared with the frankenfoods at many other state fairs, Washington is known for something a little more low-key: a scone made with local raspberry jam and whipped butter. The scones have been a fair mainstay for more than a century, and fairgoers gobbled more than 1.3 million of them in 2016 alone.

Cinnamon Rolls
roman tohtohunov/istockphoto

West Virginia: Cinnamon Rolls

State Fair of West Virginia
Like Washington, West Virginia's claim to fame is sweet and traditional. Fairgoers say you can't do any better than the Cinn-Sational cinnamon rolls, a three-decade fair-food staple. The generously sized rolls are made entirely from scratch using top-notch cinnamon and pure butter, but that's about all you'll get out of the sellers — the recipe is a family secret.

Cheese Curds in Wisconsin State Fair, Wisconsin
Arvin H./Yelp

Wisconsin: Cheese Curds

Wisconsin State Fair
Could Wisconsin's best fair food be anything other than cheese curds? Of course not. Happily, vendors have stepped up their game with any number of varieties. One of the most recent: beer-battered, pretzel-coated cheese curds served with a Caribbean sauce. Also on offer: cheese curds made with goat milk, and poutine (French fries smothered in cheese curds and gravy).

Pancakes and honey
zeljkosantrac/istockphoto

Wyoming: Pancakes

Cheyenne Frontier Days
Yes, Wyoming has a state fair, but it's small potatoes compared with Cheyenne Frontier Days, where food is as big a draw as the famous rodeo. The biggest food here — and we mean big — is the humble pancake. That's because volunteers serve up more than 100,000 flapjacks during a free pancake breakfast every year.