The question you always have to ask yourself when you’re contemplating fair food is, “Is this worth it?”
So many of these places offer you tasty descriptions and enticing pictures, but then the finished product is disappointing, and likely not worth the $7 or $8 it cost you.
So today I cruised through the Central Washington State Fair with an eye to helping you get through fair week without wasting your hard-earned dollars on mediocre fair fare.
So, worth it or not — 2013 edition:
1. Garlic fries: Not worth it. They sounded so good, and traditionally, I love garlic fries. But these fries were generic out-of-the-bag frozen, deep-fried and then a scoop of minced garlic was dumped on top of them. Not worth the price ($7).
2. Teriyaki: Worth it, but ... do you really go to the fair to eat teriyaki? My mother-in-law got a plate of teriyaki chicken with noodles, and it was tasty. But the Valley already has great teriyaki, sans-fair, so I’d suggest finding something a little more exotic. But, this is one of the stands where you can get the refillable fair cups. They’re $5, plastic, come with a straw, and you can fill them at select food vendor booths around the fairgrounds for $2.50
3. Pizza: Worth it, but see above. (Also: Will refill your fair cup for $2).
4. Fry Guys loaded fries: Worth it. My husband got “The Works” on his fries (minus jalapenos). It was pretty good, and more like what we were hoping for from the garlic fries we got from another booth. And the chili put on them was awesome. (It was $9 for the cup, which felt like a lot, but it was pretty filling).
5. The Root Beer stand: Depending on how long you’re at the fair, this may be worth it. There’s three sizes of cups, ranging from $15 to $25 and you can fill them with root beer, diet root beer, sasparilla and a few other old-fashioned beverages. The cup is an old-timey stine, but the “worth it” part is the FREE REFILLS you get all day long. So hit them in the morning, and stay hydrated.
6. Donut sundae: Found at O’Gee Donuts in the middle of food-row, this was totally worth it. $7, and you get a cup of five donuts topped with ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate sauce and strawberries. And it was awesome. And the guys running the booth are hilarious. Tip: Have them put cinnamon sugar on the donuts before the ice cream. Trust me.
7. Deep-fried butter: Worth it. Everyone always wonders about this, but I saw just eat it. It’s awesome. It’s a round ball of butter (not even a tablespoon), wrapped in dough and deep-fried, then served with jelly or powdered sugar. They end up being yummy little doughnut-holes, with a liquid buttery core.
8. Hand-dipped corn dogs: Always worth it. But make sure you get the kind where they dip it right there, not the frozen ones. The difference is huge.
9. Indian Taco: Not worth it. I lovelovelove Indian Tacos, which is a piece of fry bread with ground beef, beans, lettuce, sour cream, etc., on top. But the fry bread at the stand at the fair is no where near what it should be. Don’t waste your money, because it might ruin your appetite for Indian Tacos for life, and that would be tragic.
10. Many flavored lemonades: Not worth it, mostly. There are some gems of flavored lemonades at the fair, but good luck finding them. Many of the booths (including the one shaped like a lemon) offer you something that is mostly water, a titch of flavoring, and a lemon floating on top. The taste is reminiscent of gym socks. Look for lemonade booths that have real, big chunks of fruit floating in richly colored liquid. The paler it is, the less likely you’ll be satisfied.