Minnesota State Fair Food Wish List


Katie Cannon / Heavy Table
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

The Great Minnesota Get Together has come and gone once more and, as usual, the food did not disappoint. There were new offerings, like the sunnies in a boat and Spam breakfast sandwiches, and of course there were the classics like Sweet Martha’s cookies and roasted sweet corn.

On a stick or in a boat, deep fried or fresh — the Heavy Table was there, sampling it all.

But even with such an extensive listing of food, we couldn’t help wondering if the State Fair’s food repertoire could get any better. What follows are some concrete suggestions for new Fair foods.

Fried Chicken and Waffles

The sweet and salty combination is taken to a new level with fried chicken and waffles — tender chicken pieces battered and crispy fried, paired with sweet waffles and local syrup, and served on a stick (of course). Satisfying both the breakfast and lunch cravings and combining two things that kids love, fried chicken and waffles could prove to be the perfect Fair food.

Lori Writer / Heavy Table
Lori Writer / Heavy Table

Bánh Mì Sandwiches

The bánh mì, with its perfect combination of chewy baguette paired with tender meats and crisp vegetables, would make a great addition to the food list. Meat lovers and vegetarians alike would be satisfied with a variety of sandwich options. And although it would be impossible to offer this on a stick, wrapped in a single paper (recyclable of course), it makes a perfect grab-and-go food.

Bubble Tea

Finding refreshing beverages at the fair can be a challenge. Although there are some choices out there, including a few we love — maple soda and Summit quickly come to mind — generally your choices are limited to water, soda, or milk (cookies, anyone?). Bubble tea — fruit-flavored tea served with large tapioca-like pearls — would be a natural addition to the fair. Fruity, hydrating, and fun for all — who doesn’t love to slurp up the pearls through the comically wide straws?

Papaya Salad and Larb

While Asian food already makes the state fair roster, we propose a few Thai food options that go beyond the obvious chicken satay that would be perfect for the Fair — papaya salad and larb. Both the papaya salad, a savory mix of shredded papaya, chilies, vegetables, herbs, and peanuts, and the larb, a traditional dish of minced lean meat mixed with chilies and herbs, could be served in State Fair-appropriate edible lettuce wraps. Fun, fresh, and Fair worthy, for certain.

Jucy Lucy

And, of course, there is the jucy lucy. But instead of one big burger filled with oozing cheese, our State Fair vision of this fine food entails a basket of three mini lucys, each with a different type of cheese — American, blue cheese, and pepperjack. Each would be two bites of jucy lucy perfection, if the right vendor is at the helm, of course. It would be a tough challenge to pull off the State Fair jucy lucy but we’re confident that The Nook or Matt’s could do it.


  1. jane

    “Impossible” to put a bahn mi on a stick? Have you been paying attention? A true MN Fair vendor who wanted to sell something on a stick would not be thwarted by a mere sandwich.

    Great suggestions, all of them!

  2. Sharyn

    Bánh mì sandwiches would be great! And possibly Vietnamese spring rolls too. Fairly portable and all. My wish list would include more vegan options. Like vegan pronto pups! If those corn dogs were tofu dogs instead I doubt anyone would even notice.

  3. Jason Walker

    Matt’s couldn’t pull off the small Jucy Lucys. Their ingredients are so crappy a mini version would disintegrate!
    But solid list. Bahn mi is a great call.

  4. pete

    i’ve been saying this for years: where are the bite-sized samosas on a stick? with a cilantro yogurt dipping sauce? they would be a huge hit.

  5. artsy

    Yes, hear hear, I have read that attendance was somewhat down this year to the fair. Could it be…..that people are actually tired of the same old greasy heart attack food? I think a new emphasis on much more ethnic and healthier foods, as in more from the Vietnamese and other Asian countries, which includes wonderful salads….if publicized, could actually get a whole lot of people to go to the Fair who are yawning and staying home! Thanks for this! And of course Heavy Table could publicize all the important details!

  6. Kate

    I know it isn’t quite fair to mention this NOW, with another fair an entire year away, but a refreshing and inexpensive beverage worth mentioning (many times over in fact) would be the Honey Lemonade from the Bee exhibit aisle in the Ag building. A buck gets you 12 oz. of the tangy honey flavored lemonade, unbeatably delicious and thirst-quenching, and oh so refreshingly different and good. They even ask you if you want ice or not.

    But, oh well….what’s another year?

  7. Tangled Noodle

    So many Asian dishes originated in street food culture so transferring them to a State Fair setting shouldn’t be too much of a stretch! This was my first year eating at the Fair so I have a narrow range of reference but I was pleased to see some healthy choices and authentic ethnic dishes (Harry Singh’s roti dhalpourie and La Loma tamales were faves). I’m hoping this is a positive and growing trend!

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