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DINING: New treats to try at the State Fair

August 12, 2016
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Deep Fried Birthday Cake Pop. (IBJ photos/Kristen Hambridge)

You could stick with the staples. But we went in search of new culinary offerings. One thing that’s consistent year to year: the requisite post-trek shower and self-loathing.

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Slaw-B-Q Sandwich ($7)

Heaping a pile of coleslaw onto a burger doesn’t demonstrate wildly original thinking, but that doesn’t keep the crunchy slaw from adding to a satisfying pile of pork. Make sure to grab a fork since a significant percentage of both key elements are likely to drop from the standard bun. (Indiana Pork)

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Birthday Funnel Cake ($7)

Here’s where tastes differ. I say a funnel cake is just about perfect in its confectioner’s sugar-sprinkled glory. Others (less refined) hold that covering the fried dough with icing and sprinkles makes it even better. One of us is right. (Urick’s Concessions)

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Sparta Fries ($8)

Thick crinkle-cut fries are topped with semi-spicy feta and a purely decorative olive and pepperoncini in this concoction that’s perfectly fine in a $2 Tuesday portion but overstays its welcome at full strength. It also comes in a milder, Athens form. (Pagageorges)

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Pig on a Stick ($7) and Fruit Tea Twister ($4/$8)

Maybe it’s the molasses and spices in the rub. Perhaps it’s the chewy freshness of the center-cut pork slab. Whatever the case, this fryer-cooked treat left us licking the stick. Unfortunately, in its beverage companion, the sugar overran the pineapple, strawberry, lime, lemon and orange in the tea, rendering it just another overpriced super-sweet drink. (Goodwin Family Products)

Deep Fried Birthday Cake Pop ($6)

The sticks can’t quite handle these deep-fried dough orbs, so keep the paper basket handy to catch the green icing or gooey center as it drips from these eat-’em-quick treats. (Carousel Candy)

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Smokin’ Hot on Rye Bread ($3) and Peanut Butter Shake ($3)

I don’t think I’ve ever been let down at the Dairy Bar before. But barely detectable Sriracha does not make a sandwich smokin’ hot. And a hint of peanut butter didn’t upgrade this shake. (American Dairy Association)

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BBQ Pulled Pork Beer Cheese Fries ($10)

The beer cheese and the pulled pork were on point, but the fries needed a bit more rigidity to survive this noble effort. (Barto’s)

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Southern Belle Burger ($10)

My mistake: not trusting these long-standing State Fair vendors. Instead of just firmly gripping this intimidating sandwich and taking a bite, I took a knife to this mountain of seeming incongruousness, thus making it difficult to experience a bite that included every layer. Lucky for me, half the sandwich was spared my inept surgery and proved remarkably manageable by hand. And remarkably good, with the crisp bacon, fried green tomato and pimento cheese shining through but not upstaging the beef. (Carousel)•

–Lou Harry

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