26 state fair foods you have to try
Food is a big part of the Iowa State Fair, which kicks off Thursday. And with more than 250 foods to choose from at 195 food booths, making a decision can be tough.
Before you hit the Grand Concourse, check out our Iowa State Fair Food Finder. It will help you find your favorite food at the fair. Or to keep the food finder at your fingertips, download the food finder app.
Why not ask the people who spend all 11 days (or almost all of them) at the fairgrounds what they eat? When you spend each day at the fairgrounds, you get the opportunity to try more foods than the average fairgoer. Find out three top foods from a variety of people who live, breathe and eat the Iowa State Fair, including myself.
MORE: FollowThe Des Moines Register's State Fair page
This will be my fifth year working for the Bill Riley Talent Search. I don't always have a lot of time to roam so I have some go-to foods I get each year.
1. Crescenti's Sandwiches - There are sweet and savory options. I always go for the works, a savory option that includes meat and cheese on fried bread.
2. Ribeye Sandwich from Cattlemen's Beef Quarters - I love being able to order from the window on the south side of the building when I am in a hurry. The ribeye sandwich and an order of fries always hit the spot.
3. Cinnamon Roll from Buni's- I like to splurge once each year on a cinnamon roll (with pecans). Get it with a cup of coffee and people watch while you eat.
This will be Karlin's 20th year anchoring KCCI 8 News At Five at the Iowa State Fair. This year KCCI will be broadcasting from the brand new MidAmerican Energy Stage.
1. Peppermint Square from Bauder's - The combination of the best peppermint ice cream I've ever had and the crust made of Oreos, my favorite mass-produced cookie, is an absolute taste sensation.
2. Pork Chop Dinner from the Iowa Pork Producers - They are expertly prepared. Not only do you get a darn good chop but they accompany that bad boy with a nice-sized side of baked beans, some applesauce and a bag of chips.
3. Hoppy's Lemonade on the Hill - You need something to wash all that stuff down. John Hartney's the man. He makes the tastiest lemon shake-ups with sugar or just about any sugar-substitute you can think of. He will also mix in a number of different flavors if you want. I could drink John's cherry-lemonade all day long.
As manager and CEO of the Iowa State Fair for 15 years, Slater is familiar with every inch of the fairgrounds.
1. Pork Chop on a Stick - It's healthy and I grew up raising hogs and worked at the Pork Producers.
2. Cheese Curds - They are bite-sized and shareable and of course, they taste good!
3. Chocolate Chip Cookies in a Cup - Who doesn't like them! They are perfect if you have a sweet tooth and if you buy the big bucket, you have some to take home with you.
Hollister is a familiar face in the Elwell Family Food Center. She is the Iowa State Fair Food Superintendent and has been working at the fair for 30 years.
1. Wonder Bar - They are chocolate and ice cream rolled in nuts - delicious!
2. Pork Chop on a Stick -My husband will bring these back to me - I rarely get to leave the building.
3. Chuckie's Tenderloin - It isn't greasy, it is more than a meal all by itself and the breading on it is one of a kind.
Register columnist Kyle Munson travels the state most of the year but for the 11 days of the Iowa State Fair he lets the people and stories of Iowa come to him.
1. Dutch Spiced Beef Sandwich from the Wooden Shoe - As an alumnus of Central College in Pella, I'm prone to make a Dutch detour away from the fair's deep-fried gauntlet. Also helps me avoid a corn-dog rut.
2. Hot Beef Sundae from Cattlemen's Beef Quarters - Might be the best, heartiest single meal in a bowl at the fair -- beef, mashed potatoes, gravy and cheese with a cherry tomato on top to make you feel a tad healthier.
3. Peanut Butter Fair Square - I'm a peanut butter fiend, so the State Fair's own peanut butter Rice Krispies treats often are my default energy boost as I scurry back to the Administration Building to file fair updates on deadline.
2014 Iowa State Fair Queen Elizabeth (Izzy) Gloverc
As the Iowa State Fair Queen Glover made her way around the fairgrounds last year and will be finishing up her reign until the 2015 Queen is named on Saturday, Aug. 15.
1. Tom Thumb Donuts -They have these at my county fair, so I was excited to be able to get them at the State Fair.
2. Gyros - Because they taste great!
3. Fresh Lemonade - I was running around a lot, so the lemonade was my go-to. It is refreshing on a warm day in August.
Pearson is the host of Market to Market on Iowa Public Television and also takes part in its Fair Highlights show.
1. and 2. A tie - Pork Chop on a Stick from the Iowa Pork Producers and the Ribeye Steak Sandwich from Cattlemen's Beef Quarters -Both of those are my tops because it's so easy to eat unhealthy food when you're at the fair all the time, and those two items are always delicious and healthy!
3. Bucket of Chocolate Chip Cookies - I always think I'll buy the bucket so I can share, but before I know it, they're all gone!
Bandaloni has been performing his One Man Band act at the Iowa State Fair for the last eight years.
1. The home cooked meals at Campbell's Concession in the John Putney Family Cattle Barn -When you spend as much time on the road and away from home as I do, it's nice to get a comforting home cooked meal served up by some really great gals that work there...just like my mom!
2. Fruit Cups from Beattie's Melon Patch - There is nothing like a fresh cup of cold watermelon or fruit after performing a hot show in the Iowa heat and humidity. I know, it sounds boring as far as fair food goes but it's a great 'pick-me-up' when 'the band' needs a lift!
3. A brew from Iowa Craft Beer Tent - Is beer a food? Well if it is, one of my favorite stops after a hot day performing is in the Iowa craft beer tent! Iowa has a plethora of great craft beers that any state should be proud of! A 'little taste' of this magic at the end of the day is always a moment I savor...usually with friends!
State Fair photographer Steve Pope roams the fairgrounds each and every day and this will be his 19th year.
1. Jennie's Grinders - The family-run stand has been a State Fair staple for years and years and years. All they serve is the Guinea Grinder sandwich which is a unique blend of sausage smothered with the perfect amount of cheese and then baked in a toaster oven (I always ask for additional oven time).
2. Cheeseburger & Fries from Pete's Lemonade Shakeups (formerly known as Birdie's) in Pioneer Hall - Nothing fancy here folks, just a simple burger and basic fries. The key to this stand and what separates them from the rest, is that every item is cooked when you order. It's probably my favorite spot on the grounds.
3. Lemonade from Pete's Lemonade Shakeups (formerly known as Birdie's) in Pioneer Hall - Birdie has been in business forever and is known mostly for the lemonade, which is the best! They hand shake each lemonade vigorously with an obscene amount of sugar. You won't be disappointed in anything they have to offer!
MORE ABOUT THE IOWA STATE FAIR:
Complete Iowa State Fair coverage
Find full coverage, photos from every day and videos of the best moments at DesMoinesRegister.com/StateFair.
Events calendar: Browse and search for events in our mobile friendly calendar at DesMoinesRegister.com/StateFairEvents.
What to do? We're offering all sorts of recommendations. Find the new things to do this year, the must-see things, kid-friendly events, best free concerts and more. Find them in the Des Moines Register Things to Do app - download it for iPhone or Android - or go to DesMoinesRegister.com/BestLists.
Food and events in an app: Find each days events and plot your fair food eating based on which foods you most want to try or which are closest to you in the Des Moines Register Fair Food app. Download it for iPhone or view it on any device at DesMoinesRegister.com/FairFood. Plus you can review nutrition information, find foods and events deemed "healthy" and how long you'll need to exercise, walk or run to burn off each food's calories.
Political Soapbox: Don't miss your chance to see a presidential candidate in the wild. Find the schedule for the Des Moines Register Political Soapbox, which will feature nearly all of the 21 candidates at DesMoinesRegister.com/SoapboxSchedule. Watch the speeches live and follow coverage at DesMoinesRegister.com/Soapbox.