Eating My Way Through The State Fair


I didn’t know it when I arrived at my parents’ home last Friday, but the Wisconsin State Fair was going on. This is the fair of my youth, the fair against which all others must be judged.

So here’s what’s new at the Wisconsin State Fair — beer doughnuts. Yes!

You must be 21 to purchase one because the filling is made from beer, and you can choose one topped with crushed pretzels or one topped with beer nuts.

I didn’t order a doughnut because I don’t care for beer (something I do not advertise openly while in Milwaukee), but Mark and my parents did. In Florida, when we have a hankering for alcohol, we laugh and say, “It’s five o’clock somewhere!” but in Wisconsin we get outraged and say, “It’s already 10 a.m.!”

We had been at the fair five minutes.

The very next thing we did was seek out the cream puff building because, after all, what better chaser for a doughnut than two or three cream puffs?

The Wisconsin State Fair is famous for its cream puffs. They take real cream, whipped lighter than air and pile it into a sweet and flaky croissant-type roll. At first you think you can eat more than one. You can’t. In fact, the Wisconsin State Fair holds the record for “world’s largest cream puff,” set back in 2009. Cream puffery is so important to the fair that the cream-puff bakers made the front page of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel the day before. There were probably 100 of them.

Immediately upon completion of our cream puffs, we headed over to the Lions Club booth, because that’s where the roast corn was being sold. The Milwaukee Lions Club has been selling corn at the fair for 80 years. Their “booth” is actually a small park in the center of the fair. How did they get this prime location? Because, 80 years ago, one of them said, “Could we have this spot here?” and someone else said, “Yeah, sure.”

Booths at the fair are not fought over. You actually buy your space, and that’s how people know where to go to get the same corn, caramel apples, custard or beer (always beer) that they have enjoyed previously. Plus, if you like, you can open up for the other concerts, events or auto races that take place on the grounds and make some money for your group.

The Lions buy their corn locally, so it often was picked the same day. It is always moist and sweet and roasted to perfection. This year, in addition to their traditional corn on the cob, you could also buy it in a cup, cut off the cob for you.

“Some of our older customers — and those with braces — couldn’t do the cob thing,” said the Lion serving it up.


It was now coming up on noon and you know what that meant — lunch! We trotted directly from the corn booth across the way to the Italian sausage booth. My parents wanted sausages, but I had been hoping for a bratwurst, so Mark went in search of one for me.

He came back 10 minutes later with a smoked pterodactyl leg that had accidentally gotten mixed in with the turkey legs. I never saw anything so huge! But after five bites, I decided to save it for later. I had spotted the elusive brat stand behind one of the 45 beer booths, so I spoiled myself by finishing off lunch with a brat.

Because we were feeling a bit full, the four of us decided to head for the Potowatami Tribe bingo tent where we could sit for awhile and let things settle.

Just in case we got hungry, I bought a little bag of chocolates along the way.