Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Presenting the Presenter Eats and Blogs the Illinois State Fair

Okay, so despite the never changing, animal filled, tractor showcasing, food-a-palooza bonanza the IL State Fair is every year, it's still a tradition for people to plop on the sunscreen, shove their family in the huge family van, pay $5 for parking, pay for admission tickets, and experience the "wonder" that is the IL State Fair. What can we say, humans love "traditions".

I've missed the fair a few times the past couple years due to jobs and college, but don't worry... the years and years of me going to the fair can still allow me to walk you to the butter cow or Vose's Corndogs blindfolded.

Well, it's that time of year again, so me and BF grabbed our Free Parking Pass, our Free Daily Admission passes (Thanks 30!) and off to the fair we went!!

Normally, the one of the less welcome State Fair traditions is the sweating faces, the red blotchy patches on your skin, the desperate runs to the water coolers, and the passing out in the middle of the street. But we got really really lucky this year and tonight when we went (around 4:30) it was actually quite cool outside with one or two sprinkles that were soft enough to feel like mist. In fact, at one point, after a particularly chilling breeze, I even commented to the boyfriend that it was a little chilly outside and it would be perfect weather for a light jacket. That might have been a little overkill, but really, absolutely perfect weather :)

Now, anyone that knows me knows that it's rare to find me without a camera. So without further ado, I present a Photo Blog of Presenting the Presenter's experiences at the IL State Fair.


So, we walk into the fair, and this is the first thing we see-


Now, I don't know why the IL state fair has bears. IL no longer has a lot of bears. Nonetheless, there's that little cage full of bears. But here's the thing- my dad hates bears. He thinks they are going to come up to the house, unlock the door, and maul him in his sleep. That's why we buy him all sorts of bear paraphernalia for Christmas- we like to hear his screams of terror. So when I saw these bears no more than 5 minutes away from our house, I immediately thought of him. Maybe he's right and the bears ARE after him and are slowly getting closer and closer to the house. These bears were going to do a Bear Show, but it was still an hour away so we decided to leave and come back later.

Now, let's get to what you're all REALLY looking forward to-- FOOD!!!

So, first things first, we went to the Agriculture Tent. This is always our first stop when we go to the fair- normally because the tent is right near our entrance, but mainly because of the FREE FOOD SAMPLES!!! Mmmmmm. This year's loot was Butter Cake, Pease's Cheddar Popcorn, Cinnamon Wheat bread... or something like that, Chips and Dip, Coffee, and Meat (maybe pork?) with Riley's Seasoning on it. It was all very very tasty.

Sadly, I did not get any photos of the samples (well besides one photo of the BF enjoying Stewarts Coffee). I ate them too fast! What can I say- they handed me that Butter Cake and it was GONE.

Who doesn't love hot coffee on a hot fair day?

Next we walked around trying to find Meat Parfaits. Before I went, I had gotten word that they were behind Ethnic Village along the fence. Well we walked allll the way down there- No Meat Parfaits. Sadness! We called 30, who then said to try and ask an information booth. Well there was NO WAY I was going to embarrass myself by walking up to the booth asking "Where's the Meat Parfaits?" so I resigned myself to not trying this year's unique fair item.

So off we went to the annual favorite-- The Butter Cow!!! Before we got there, we passed by a fudge and pizza booth. We weren't going to stop, but the barker convinced us to turn back around and get a Free Sample of Fudge. Well, who can say no to that? So he took a little 1 inch cube, cut it in half and gave half to the BF. The guy then decided the other half was too small for me, so he cut another piece in half, then gave me TWO pieces of fudge. Score!! We didn't buy anything there- but look what we could have bought!! Pizza that's shaped like an ice-cream cone!!!

Eventually, we made it inside and met the Butter Cow:

Honestly, I've seen better Butter Cows. Last one I saw was the Butter Cow and all his woodland creature friends. This year all he's got is a bunch of corn and a measly butterfly. Meh I say.

But a visit to the buttercow also means enjoyment of a MilkShake!

"Now Presenter, just why are you taking pictures of spoons?" you may be asking yourself. Well, this is all that is left of our milkshake (I took one bite with a spoon before moving to a straw). I couldn't help it! It was so good (despite being slightly melted) It wasn't until after we threw the cup away that I remembered that I was trying to do a Photo Food Blog. Ooops.

Next, we walked around Conservation World looking at the various crafts, staring at various animals, laughing at crazy redneck stuff. While there, BF mentioned he had never tried homemade rootbeer, so we decided to remedy that:

I'm not a fan of homemade rootbeer, plus, I've stopped drinking soda, so BF was the only partaker of this one. But I think he liked it? He did mention that the lack of carbonation made it different than commercial brands, but that was about his only commentary.

Remember a while back when I said we couldn't find the Meat Parfait? And I was too embarrassed to ask the information booth? Well, we passed one, and BF asked me if I was going to stop, and I said "Hell no, I'm not going up there and asking "where's the meat"" Well, BF kind of scoffed, turned around, and went up there himself to ask!!! He's so nice- I guess this proves he really does love me since he's willing to face that much embarrassment for me (meanwhile, I'm hiding up ahead past the booth--- so what does that say about me??)

Sadly, my fears of being embarrassed were not unfounded-- The lady looked at him, like he was crazy and said she hadn't heard of such a thing. But, she did look through the Vendor's list for it (we were thinking the place was called Meat Man, or something like that) but there was no mention in there about anyplace that started with the word meat. So, Meat Parfait Attempt #2 was a fail.

The next stop for food was another yearly favorite-- Vose's Corndogs!!! Corn dogs are an IL State Fair staple. Pretty much every single vendor sells them. I don't know why Vose's are the best, they just are. And there's no way to reproduce their taste. You can only get these for one week a year, so you bet they are popular. Also, remember that bear show we (well, I) wanted to watch? Well, at this point, it was either go back to watch the bear show, or get in line for a corndog. Well, obviously the corn dog won. No bear show for us this year.

Look at those bite marks on the top.... I almost started eating it before I remembered I wanted to document my food journey.

But do you want to know one of the reasons Vose's corndogs are the best? The sticks in the middle!!

Look at that! It's food with danger! Every bite you take increases the risk of STABBING A HOLE IN YOUR ESOPHAGUS!!! It's like a dagger, hidden inside a corn-bread covered meat tube. Mmmmmm, I love a dash of blood with my meal.

So, after our nice tasty corndogs, we walked around a bit more, looking at various booths and just kind of taking in the sites. Here's a few of the "food-related" sites we looked at-

It's like EPCOT....only not.

Cheese..... ON A STICK!!!

What would a Springfield Fair be without Fried Things? Fried T-Shirt please!! (Simpsons, anyone?)

This reminds me of FL. Hey! Wonder if they have Gator Tators...

I want that tree. Wait, the bottles are empty?? Nevermind then.

It says Corn in a Cup.... But when you go up there to look at the sample, the cup is just filled with yellow tissue paper.

Dude, why couldn't we have found the $1 stand BEFORE we spent all that money earlier???

Somehow... I don't know if I would trust getting my crab from a shack like this.

It says Breakfast....and yet, none of those menu items proclaim breakfasty items....

After awhile, I called 30 to ask a question. And during this conversation, she told me wonderful news. She had found it. The coveted location of the Meat Parfait!! It's on the little road that the Pizza Hut building/booth intersects. So off we went.... and look what we found-


Well, despite BF's continuous "ewwwww"ing of the meat parfait images, I knew, I just HAD to try it. So, off I went to go order it.

Here it is:

Look at that meatiness!

Presenting the Presenter approves!

As for the taste.... well, it was alright. Not as good as my French Meat & Potatoes :P The barbecue sauce was nice (in fact, if we hadn't walked away, I would have put more BBQ sauce on it) the potatoes were good and filling, and the meat had a nice taste to it (I preferred the pork to the brisket, but BF preferred the brisket to the pork). The problem though was that it was very, very filling. You pay $7 for a cup, and you better be prepared to share it because it is waaaay too heavy for fair food and unless you're starving, I don't know if one person can eat it on their own- if you want to try it, be prepared to bring one or two of your close friends with you. Fair food is supposed to be light and not that heavy/filling on the stomach. But you eat a little bit of this and you can feel it sitting on your stomach. I was lucky I was eating this on a light, cool day because if it had be miserably hot like most days, I don't think I would have enjoyed it as much.

Meanwhile, since I had found my "New Thing To Try", it was BF's turn! He decided he wanted to try a Fried Snickers (he was tempted with a Fried Cheesecake, but the Snicker persevered). So away we went, walking to the opposite side to the fair. While BF was in line waiting for his candy to fry, I went and got a Lemon Shakeup:

BF came back with his Fried Snickers and the warning to wait 2 minutes before eating it. Well who can wait two minutes?? He lasted about 45 seconds. He said he really liked it. I tried a bit of it, but I didn't get a lot of the candy bar portion, mainly just the fried dough, and I didn't find it too impressive. A little watery? But again, that could be because I got the side and not the main nutty nougaty goodness.

At this point, we decided to find a seat because we were carrying too much stuff, and it was starting to "mist" (it was to light to be called sprinkling) a little bit. It was also at this point that I figured out that I would not be able to finish the Meat Parfait and any attempt to would result in gross happenings.

But, with encouraging words (and lots of helping bites by my BF) we managed to conquer the Meat Parfait. Victory!

That was about it for our food adventure..... or was it?? BF was still debating about trying another new food choice. The option was Fried Alligator...or Chocolate Covered Bacon. Ultimately though, he decided to try neither of these options. Personally, I wouldn't have minded trying the chocolate bacon, but perhaps another trip. However, this was the point that we ran into another fair favorite....

Mini-Donuts!!!!! How could we leave the fair without getting mini-donuts?? So, we got our tasty fried little treats. Again, I've had better donuts (seriously, anyone who visits Typhoon Lagoon has got to buy their donuts... though, there you only get 6 donuts for like, $4 while here we got 22 donuts for $5.)

And thus, our Fair Food Adventure was over. We walked around a bit, looked at some games and rides, saw some Lincoln stuff, and finally our feet admitted defeat and towards home we went. We never got an Elephant Ear, but, ya know, there's always next year :P

Did you go to a State Fair this year? What are some of your "Have-To-Gets"? Any new favorites?

1 comment:

  1. I MISS MY STATE FAIR!! It starts in September and I am going to eat like a pig. I have been craving corn dogs since the last state fair I went to which was like 4 years ago. My state fair has a butter sculpture as well. It so interesting to see what they can come up with and then produce that idea outta butter!! And they have like 1 dollars milkshakes near the butter display so its fun for everyone. My fair doesn’t have bears though!! We have like goat shaving contests and stuff which is the more hickish traditions but oh well. And meat parfaits.. Is that really what I think it is.. It looks like ice cream with bbq sauce.. and then layers of meat.. please expand.. I am curious. It would actually make sense that that is mashed potatoes though it just looks like ice cream. Anyways, I am happy you enlightned me with the deep fried snickers. I wanted to see what the inside looks like on those candy bars!! It looks like molton lava hot that’s for sure.