Giant Cream Puffs in The Big E, Massachusetts

50 Foods You Have to Try at State Fairs Across America

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Giant Cream Puffs in The Big E, Massachusetts

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.

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

Luther Burger
Luther Burger by 1SarahSmith (CC BY-ND)

Alabama: Krispy Kreme Hamburger

Alabama National Fair
Krispy Kreme is a fixture in the South, so it's no surprise to see the iconic doughnut repurposed in a gut-busting way. This burger sandwiches a quarter-pound beef patty, bacon, and cheese between two full-size original glazed Krispy Kremes. The nutritional price of this sin: Somewhere around 1,100 calories and 67 grams of fat ... but who's counting?

Salmon Quesadillas in Alaska State Fair, Alaska

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./

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.

Dole Whips in California State Fair, California

California: Dole Whips

California State Fair
It's true — fairgoers in California can get their hands on the iconic pineapple-flavored soft serve usually found solely at Disneyland and Disney World. We just hope you don't have to stand in a Space Mountain-size line to get it. If so, don't worry: In true California fashion, there's a fair wine garden where you can fortify yourself for a wait.

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./

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!

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

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?

Catfish Sundae in Florida State Fair, Florida

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.

Deep Fried Kool-Aid
Deep Fried Kool-Aid by jlwelsh (CC BY)

Georgia: Deep-fried Kool-aid

North Georgia State Fair
One of several major fairs in Georgia, the North Georgia State Fair doesn't mess around when it comes to fried favorites. One of the more unique offerings: fried Kool-Aid. (Oh yeah!) If you're more into that classic savory-sweet combo, try out a hot dog dipped in waffle batter.

Seared Ahi in 50th State Fair, Hawaii
Jarod H./

Hawaii: Seared Ahi

50th State Fair
Sure, you can get corn dogs and funnel cakes at the fair in Hawaii, but why would you? There are 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.

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./

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.

Cattlemen's Choice in Indiana State Fair, Indiana

Indiana: Cattlemen's Choice

Indiana State Fair
Meat lovers can pay homage to Indiana's thriving beef industry by chowing down on the Cattlemen's choice, courtesy of the Indiana Beef Cattle Association. It's a mashup of smoked brisket and grilled Hoosier ribeye, served up on a bun. Looking for something more inventive? The Indiana Pork Association wants to tempt you with a peanut butter pineapple pork burger.

Thanksgiving Balls in Iowa State Fair, Iowa
Courtesy of

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.

Stuffed Pickle
Kansas State Fair/
Hot Brown Tots in Kentucky State Fair, Kentucky

Kentucky: Hot Brown Tots

Kentucky State Fair
The hot brown, an open-face turkey sandwich, is one of Kentucky's most famous dishes. It gets a state-fair spin in the form of hot brown tater tots, which are smothered in gravy, turkey, and bacon bits. Not a tot fan? You can also get a hot brown on a stick — deep fried, of course.

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. This version tosses in crawfish and crab to make it a truly Louisiana affair. 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)
Giant Cream Puffs in The Big E, Massachusetts

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./

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./

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.

Missouri State Fair
Missouri State Fair/

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.

Viking on a Stick in MontanaFair, Montana

Montana: Viking on a Stick

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.

Cowboy Mignon in Nebraska State Fair, Nebraska

Nebraska: Cowboy Mignon

Nebraska State Fair
One of Nebraska's newest gut-busting fair foods is the Cowboy Mignon, which is sausage and ground chuck stuffed with cheese, wrapped in bacon, and served smothered in fried onions and Vidalia onion sauce. The heart attack continues with deep-fried bacon-wrapped cinnamon rolls.

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.

Deep-Fried Bubblegum in State Fair Meadowlands, New Jersey

New Jersey: Deep-fried Bubblegum

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 last year? Deep-fried wads of pink bubblegum, courtesy of the perfectly named Crazy Fried Things booth. Elsewhere, oatmeal crème pies get their turn in the deep fryer.

Green Chile Pepperoni Funnel Cake in New Mexico State Fair, New Mexico

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. Judged the most unique food at the 2017 fair, this chile funnel cake fuses mozzarella cheese, green chiles, and pepperoni before it's fried and topped with pizza sauce. If that's not enough, you can dunk it in ranch dressing.

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

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 if that's not exotic enough for you, you can grab a camel spiedie at the fair. In previous years, kangaroo has been available, too.

Cheerwine Funnel Cake in North Carolina State Fair, North Carolina

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.

Roughneck Nachos in North Dakota State Fair, North Dakota

North Dakota: Roughneck Nachos

North Dakota State Fair
Everyone loves nachos, especially in North Dakota. Roughneck nachos, loaded up with grilled chicken, jalapeños, sour cream, salsa, bacon, and homemade Buffalo cheese sauce, have landed a coveted People's Choice award for favorite fair food two years running. If you have a real iron stomach, go for a Slice of the Fair — that's a pizza slice topped off with cheese curds and corn dogs.

Deep-Fried Buckeyes in Ohio State Fair, Ohio

Ohio: Deep-fried Buckeyes

Ohio State Fair
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 even started wrapping the buckeyes in bacon before frying them.

Unicorn Crepes in Oklahoma State Fair, Oklahoma
Dennis Spielman/

Oklahoma: Unicorn Crepes

Oklahoma State Fair
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 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.

Cheesesteak in Bloomsburg Fair, Pennsylvania

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./

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)

South Carolina: Sriracha Chicken and Waffle Sliders

South Carolina State Fair
What better way than to make a southern favorite sing than by adding sriracha? The popular hot sauce is a favorite at the South Carolina Fair — it's even been drizzled on a sundae topped with whipped cream and corn chips. If that's too much of an abomination for you, the Cracker Jack sundae features ice cream, whipped cream and M&Ms piled on top of Cracker Jacks that you eat right from the box.

Rattlesnake Bratwurst in South Dakota State Fair, South Dakota

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
Tennessee State Fair/
Deep-Fried Chicken Noodle Soup in Texas State Fair, Texas
Courtesy of

Texas: Deep-fried Chicken Noodle Soup

Texas State Fair
The nation's biggest state fair doesn't disappoint when it comes to out-of-this-world food. Recent options included deep-fried chicken noodle soup on a stick, a bacon queso burger with funnel cakes standing in for buns, pinot noir popcorn, deep-fried Fruit Loops, and tamale doughnuts. Or you can just cut to the chase and clog your arteries even faster by downing some fried butter.

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

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.

Fried Ham Biscuit
State Fair of Virginia/

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.

Scones in Washington State Fair, Washington

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 in State Fair of West Virginia, West Virginia

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./

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 in Cheyenne Frontier Days, Wyoming

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.