Judging the 2016 Sporkies at the Wisconsin State Fair today was amazing. Period. End of blog.
Ok, it’s not the end, because this is probably the all-time pinnacle of my state fair experiences. So, I’ll do my best to give you a taste of it. First off, huge thanks to the Wisconsin State Fair, especially Amber and Chelsea there who made this happen for us (and did enough sleuthing on the interwebs to figure out Tara and I were married and equally crazy for fair food). Also thanks to the celebrity judges for making us feel welcome up on stage and to emcee Kyle Cherek (of Wisconsin Foodie fame) for making it easy for us to contribute to the commentary. And finally, a big thanks to all the chefs and food creators that made these (and all) the amazing and unique foods that make the Wisconsin State Fair the best. There were no losers here today because these people are delivering happiness to the masses – in the form of fried, sticked(?), wrapped, dipped or maybe something new no one even knows about yet. This was an awesome experience that I may have actually in fact been born for (as some have suggested) and not something I would have ever imagined getting to participate in. It was extra special to do it with my partner in fair-ing and my better half – Tara (scoring some points here hopefully). So that’s my acceptance speech I guess. On to the food!
After waiting giddily backstage for a little while, we took our seats (myself right next to Packer Hall of Famer and inventor of the Lambeau Leap – Leroy Butler). First out was the Chili-Mac Bottom Pizza. I was too excited (and nervous) to remember to take a picture so here’s a State Fair photo of it:
I’d describe it as pizza loosely, but I’d describe it as delicious tightly, as in yeah, it was really good. A deep fried crispy-breaded mac and cheese “patty” on the bottom with an awesome toppings including a really good chili with nice chunks of beef and some kind of coffee rub. I wanted some more time with this one. Maybe some alone time. We scored it pretty high.
But in rapid fire succession the next finalist was brought out and I followed suit of the other judges and reluctantly relinquished my half eaten pizza. Next up was the Fiesta Cookie Dough on a Stick. Just like the other cookie doughs on stick I’ve ravished in other trips to the fair but this time with a rich chocolate dough dipped in chocolate and covered with fairly spicy chili pepper bits. It was hot in my mouth but the cold chocolatey dough balanced it out pretty well. I probably would have finished this one too but would have paid dearly as we were only on number two.
Third, the Mountain Man Bloody Mary Burger. A third pounder made of Antelope, Bison, Boar, Elk, and Venison with some bloody mary sauce that tasted like bloody mary and a nice skewer through it. They did a nice job on this – I liked it. It wasn’t special enough to be a winner but I’d eat it any day.
I was starting to slow down but the food wasn’t. Fourth up was the Thanksgiving Day Burrito. The pictures of this one gave Tara the most pause – it didn’t look like it would be that great – tan tortilla, tan mashed potatoes, tan turkey, darker tan stuffing and darker tan gravy. Red cranberry sauce on the side though. Turns out this was really solid though. All the components were quality, I just thought it maybe needed to be deep fried. And I’d really rather eat it in November than in August.
Fifth. Sam’s Klement’s Racing Sausages Corn Dog. The five Brewers’ racing sausages – Hot Dog, Bratwurst, Chorizo, Italian and Polish all with their own section within a corn batter. I’ll give it this, the best corn batter I’ve ever had. And I love sausage (____ <– insert immature joke here). But I think I liked the Hot Dog and Brat the best, the others didn’t seem to belong to me. But this did when 2nd place and the fairgoers fave. So you should probably try it. I ate it all to get the full experience. See video of us commenting on it here (at the 1:40 mark). And how I feel about what I said here.
Really getting full now but we were getting to the best part. Sixth was the Elvis Chicken and Waffle Sandwich. I really like the idea of this (and a couple of the judges really loved it) but i think it had too much going on for my liking. The banana peanut butter waffles – good. The chicken with maple siracha sauce – good (actually the fried chicken itself was some of the best I’ve ever had). But I don’t know put it all together and I was overwhelmed. Still an impressive offering nonetheless.
On to dessert for seven, Sprecher Root Beer Float Cake. The most beautiful of all the dishes from first glance, it was a slice of cake that looked like a frothy mug of root beer. It tasted as good as it looked too. It was really good and spoiler alert – it won. I’d recommend you go get yourself one (probably to share).
The final finalist (and third place winner in a tiebreaker vs. the waffle sandwich) was the Deep Fried Old Fashioned. I think this was my personal favorite just for the excellent effort of turning a classic Wisconsin drink into deep fried classic fair fare. It looked beautiful and really did a great job capturing the flavors of an old-fashioned. It was really rich though and definitely another good one to share.
So that’s it! That was our Sporkies Experience. It was really memorable and a lot of fun. Here’s some more pictures:
And here’s another news clip I found online (we don’t say anything in it but I can definitely be seen chewing some food with purpose).