The Herald Bulletin

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July 19, 2010

Fair food a popular part of 4-H celebration

ALEXANDRIA, Ind. — The swine show, the parade, the fair queen and the carnival rides are all trademarks of the annual 4-H fair in Alexandria, but a crucial aspect of the fair goes without ribbons or awards.

Ousley’s grilled sweet corn, the local church chicken noodle dinner and the assortment of elephant ear stands are mainstays of the fair.

The Madison County 4-H Fair doesn’t feature outrageous food competitions pitting vendors against one another to see who can deep fry Pepsi, but what they do, they do well, according to patrons lined up in the summer heat waiting for a taste.

Lou Boles of Speedway was proud to show off his baked apple dumplings smothered in ice cream Monday afternoon.

Boles said he uses the traditional apple dumpling recipe, giving customers that just-out-of-the-oven taste.

“There’s no grease. We just bake ’em and put ice cream on them,” he said.

The apple dumplings are popular, he said, but after selling the dumplings in about nine other shows across the state each year, Boles has developed his own favorite fair food — grilled tenderloin.

Nearby, Wild West Soda and Cowboy Kettle Korn stands sat next to each other, playing off the mutual theme.

Selling kettle corn straight from the on-site kettle along with cracklings and pork rinds, Richard Day of Denver, Ind., has visited the Alexandria fair before, and said his bagged kettle corn is a hot seller.

A newbie, Terry Varrier dresses as a cowboy and uses wooden barrels to dispense his sarsaparilla, root beer, cream soda and orange dream soda.

With a replica gun in his hip holster, Varrier offers patrons a taste of his sodas, all made from cane sugar, making them sweet as they were when the cowboys ran the wild West.

Sitting under a glass dome near the soda barrels, a ratacoonurtle named Edna draws the attention of fairgoers.

Edna is a stuffed turtle with the head of a rattle snake and the feet of a raccoon, Varrier said.

“This is what people come to the fair to see,” he explained.

Without any stuffed hybrid animals to draw attention, Peggy Klingel of Rushville relies on the flavor of her deep fried apple bites to keep customers interested.

Klingel said the bites are deep-fried apple pie filling covered in powdered sugar.

Fried food is king at the fair, especially at the S&T Concessions stand where vendor Brett Owens offers fried green tomatoes and other fried vegetables, meats and oddities.

Owens said the stand offers a vegetable medley completed with fried okra, cauliflower, mushrooms, cheese bites and various other fried delicacies.

But his favorite is something that sounds less than appealing.

“Trash tots,” he said.

Sold at the S&T Concessions stand, trash tots are tater tots covered in chili and cheese, he said.

Across from Owens is a food item born at the fair.

Madelyn Heskett said the Three Bears Concessions stand has been slinging walking tacos for more than 20 years.

Composed of a bag of Fritos covered in chili and taco toppings, walking tacos offer fairgoers convenience and flavor in one small bag.

Although she enjoys the walking tacos, Heskett said the Three Bears food she loves is the chicken burrito.

Susie Klee of Fairmount opted for the traditional fair food after searching the stands Monday — elephant ears.

The size of a plate and covered in sugar, the elephant ear is the classic fair food.

Klee said a member of her family buys one every year.

Earlier in the day, she’d had a walking taco lunch and was looking forward to more junk food throughout the week.

Contact Brandi Watters, 640-4847,


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