In Our Own Backyard….Let’s eat!Last weekend I got a taste of what the 2012 Carlton County Fair was all about – literally.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
Last weekend I got a taste of what the 2012 Carlton County Fair was all about – literally.
My husband and I had been in the Twin Cities for a 5K Run/Walk event Saturday morning, and on our way north later that day, we decided to stop by the county fair for dinner. Yes, it’s true – though most people go to the fair for the exhibits, the races or the carnival rides (and we love ’em, too), the thing we look forward to most each year is eating at the fair.
Fair food is legendary most everywhere for its decidedly UN-health conscious ingredients. Most of it is either deep-fried, battered or dipped in something fattening, and pretty much all of it has a calorie count that equals what we would consume in an entire day (or more!). In fact, an online blogger referred to it as “food for folks who don’t care about being around at sunset.”
There’s something about that devil-may-care attitude that overtakes us when we’re at the fair and causes us to throw all of our dietary cautions to the wind. I’m guessing that in our particular case last Saturday, we were feeling more than a little self- righteous after completing the 5K Run/Walk that morning. Granted, we’d availed ourselves of the picnic lunch served afterward, but by the time we arrived in Barnum and walked six blocks to the fairgrounds, we were feeling self-righteous once again.
We had only strolled through the barns and exhibits for a little over half an hour before we mutually agreed to take a stroll along the food vendors’ row, just to scope out what we might like to eat.
And stroll we did – from the 4-H diner, past the Teeny Weeny Donut stand, all the way around to the Carlton Area Lions booth, and we liked what we saw. We smacked our lips over gyros, fajitas and hot roast beef sandwiches, and we positively drooled over Belgian waffle sundaes, chocolate milkshakes and pork fried rice.
It was only 4:30 p.m. by then, so we decided we’d at least better hold off until 5 p.m. We watched the last of the dog show, checked out Cloquet homemaker Astrid Johnson’s blue ribbons in the baked goods exhibit, and ambled through the petting zoo. At the stroke of 5 p.m., Ken said, “Let’s eat!”
The only problem was we were still in a quandary over just what to eat. I had narrowed it down to the pork chop on a stick or a sinful concoction called, “Jonny on a Bun,” comprised of thinly sliced prime rib, covered with French fries, cheese sauce and a Kosher dill pickle, all wedged onto a giant bun. Ken was stewing over whether to have dinner or shoot straight to dessert. We finally decided to split a “Jonny on a Bun” and a Belgian waffle strawberry sundae. I saved us a spot at one of the picnic tables while Ken went off to buy our food. But when he came back, he had both a “Jonny on a Bun” and a rather large and sumptuous-looking wild rice bratwurst.
“I decided I wanted my own,” he declared, and launched into the bratwurst.
“I’m not sure I can eat this whole thing,” I objected self-righteously. “Didn’t you say you wanted to split it?”
“I changed my mind,” he replied, “– but I’ll eat your fries and the pickle if you want….”
I was so full by the time I finished the sandwich that my appetite for dessert had diminished just the slightest bit, so we ended up getting blueberry cheesecake instead of the giant Belgian waffle strawberry sundae.
By the time all was said and done, not even the six-block walk back to the car was enough to make us feel self- righteous any more. I once read that an Extension educator in Nebraska developed a chart detailing the approximate distances a person would need to walk in order to burn off the calories in some popular county fair foods. She noted it would take 1.5 miles to wear off the calories in a single cone of cotton candy, three miles for one funnel cake or a caramel apple, and a whopping 4.5 miles to counteract the damage done by a corn dog or a fried candy bar on a stick.
I moaned to myself as we drove home, wondering why in the world I didn’t just get an ear of fresh sweet corn.
The next day we talked with our daughter in the Twin Cities and offered to take our two grandchildren to the State Fair next weekend. I hear they’re going have bacon ice cream there this year….