Miniature pig races. Hot tub sales. Inflatable plastic toys your kids think they want.
The Oklahoma State Fair knows its business. Which is why I am absolutely confounded that there isn’t a stand near the Fried Food Thoroughfare selling 1. elastic waistband pants, 2. bags to hold the pants you came in and 3. access to a changing room.
Because there is one reason to go to the fair that towers above all others: To eat the most insane foods even conceived by mammals. Yeah, we’re roping in all warm-blooded animals here, because this food is completely bonkers.
I was afforded the honor of judging some of the cuisine at the Oklahoma State Fair again this year and, let me tell you, the staff have outdone themselves by picking some truly demented dishes for your dining pleasure.
Before we get to the stuff I tried, here are some highlights from the new delicacies coming to the Fair:
A Latte Love Coffee House (full review) does more than just coffee, as you can see with their warm muffins drizzled in your choice of chocolate, white chocolate or caramel.
Coco Flow has a reputation for making amazing food, chocolate or no, and I’m deeply interested in trying their beef poke bowl, with marinated beef, rice, pickled cucumbers, fried onions, greens and avocado in a soy vinaigrette. It may sound like a sit-down meal, but the bowl means you’ll have no trouble walking around with it.
Same goes for their cookie fries, which sound kind of like biscotti, but covered in a fruity berry sauce.
Cutie Pies has three killer new pies: cotton candy, root beer float and cherry limeade. How will these become pies? I have no idea. But considering one of the dishes I tasted, they have my full faith.
Mactastic has a few entries this year, but it’s the non-pasta-based frozen sweet tea that sounds like an Oklahoma classic in the making.
Porky’s are the mad scientists of the Fair and they’re back in their lab with the funnel cake burger and the gourmet donut burger. Honestly, those don’t sound like my thing, but your mileage may vary.
I’m pretty intrigued by San Diego’s Original Fish & Chips, which will be serving — you guessed it — fish and chips. But they’re also doing a version coated in Flaming Hot Cheetos, which could be awesome or terrible. Guess I’ll just have to try it myself.
The Urban Taco Shop, which has been delighting diners in downtown OKC, is doing a breakfast taco and a s’more-like Campfire Taco filled with marshmallow, chocolate, strawberries and caramel.
Now, for the foods I’ve already greedily devoured (and why I’m so confident in Coco Flow’s abilities): The German Chocolate Brownie is German-style, but actually made with Belgian chocolate. It’s like eating an atlas! Seriously, this was rich and gorgeous, but be sure you have someone to share with. This thing is huge.
One thing I won’t share is Coco Flow’s Cuban crepe. They roast the pork overnight, so it’s fresh every morning. It’s pickles and cheese and mayo and pork and just a little spice: I love it. I will always love it. This is the only kind of love I’m capable of.
I was blown away by the Mac-n-Cheese Burger from Layne Concessions for a couple of reasons. The buns are mac and cheese coated in buttery breadcrumbs. It’s really lovely. And the burger is really nicely done, too. And let’s be honest: that’s not always the way with “novelty” burgers. Everything came together well. I’d love to have a full one with lettuce, tomato and onion.
Harvell’s Ragin’ Cajun brought their famous chicken strips inside the Bacon Chicken Sandwich. Don’t tell Harvell, but I think the strips are best outside the sandwich. Be sure to get their homemade super peppery hot sauce for dipping. It’s wonderful. Actually, I want that sauce on the mac-n-cheese burger from Layne’s. Can we have a crossover?
On the sweet side, I thought Cutie Pies’ watermelon pie was really great. It tasted like a solid version of an agua fresca with bits of real watermelon hidden in the cream. The graham cracker crust was a perfect pairing, too, because it all stayed beautifully light.
Speaking of light, the chocolate-dipped pineapple whip is exceedingly pineapple-y in the best possible way. If you enjoy that sweet/tart bite of pineapple, you won’t be disappointed.
And big huge enormous ups to The Urb Express for the honey pepper bacon dog. The concept didn’t excite me, but they’ve taken such great care in crafting this hot dog. Maybe your kids just want a hot dog covered in ketchup. Fine. Give them that. You’ll be much happier with this all-beef dog and the sweet-savory bacon and honey and mustard kick.
Everything else you need to know about the Oklahoma State Fair: It runs from Sept. 13-23. Parking is challenging at best. A full list of events, activities and (most importantly) food can be found at okstatefair.com.
Seriously. Don’t pretend you aren’t going. It’s the Fair. We’re all going, jerks.