When driving north down Imperial Avenue from El Centro to Imperial, it doesn’t take long to see a familiar and annual site – the glimmering lights high in the sky represented by none other than the Ferris wheel at the California Mid-Winter Fair and Fiesta.
That’s right, the yearly 10 day extravaganza of rides, food, and animals has begun and brings with it all the classic favorites we look forward to ever year as well as some new tasty treats and exhibits. The fair was always a significant part of my family life. Both my brother and I were in 4-H, and between the both of us, we have spent a lot of hours at that fair and on those grounds. I myself was involved for 13 years. I started out showing rabbits as a mini-member and then showed steers when I was 9.
Some of my favorite memories of 4-H and the fair were long days spent getting ready for showmanship, in addition to the early morning drives out to feed and clean the pens. And then the auction! I know this doesn’t sound glamorous, but there is something about hanging out at the barn all day with your group that was just fun. We would have picnics or play games, whatever we needed to pass the time.
Most of the time we brought our own food for the full days we were at the fair, but we had our fair share of adventures eating and trying out all the different food vendors.
So, the next two weeks will be dedicated to FAIR FOOD!!! This week, I will highlight some of my favorite food vendors at the fair, and then next week we will try to recreate some fair food, so that when you get a craving you don’t have to wait a whole year to taste it again.
You know the saying “everything is bigger in Texas,” well this food trailer brings the size and taste of Texas to California in the form of donuts! This would be my go to treat in the early mornings when I finished early, being one of the only booths open in the morning and situated right next to the barns. If I managed to get my work done early, and was up for a treat, I would head on over to the Texas Donuts’ booth and get the ‘Chocolate Charlie.’ It’s a glazed twisted donut with a chocolate cream, almost pudding-like center. Definitely a breakfast to share and try out.
Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate:
I can’t remember the name of the booth, but it’s located right across from the rabbit barn and right in front of the fair office/where the barn sale sets up. It’s one of the only café type food booths at the fair serving coffee and frappuccino’s and Salted Caramel Hot Chocolates! Their version of this tasty treat is one of my favorites and perfect for those cold nights you are stuck doing barn duty or waiting around for the auction. Definitely recommend this drink if you need a warm and tasty drink.
Now I haven’t been to the fair in a few years, but there use to be a b-b-q food booth t on the North end of the grandstands near the entrance of the fair. If they are still there, you will definitely need to stop by and get an ear of their grilled corn. Huge fresh ears of corn with the husk still on, grilled with the right amount of char and butter on it. It’s a fair staple and just tastes, oh-so-good.
The above-mentioned dishes are just a few of hundreds of things you can eat at the fair and are some of my favorites. However, these last two are fair staples and something that you HAVE to try- Funnel Cake and Corn Dogs!
Nothing quite beats the true taste of the fair than fried goodness. The funnel cakes are light and crisp and the powdered sugar melts into the hot dough to leave the lingering taste of sweetness. Feel free to add strawberry topping for a little extra flavor.
Now the corn dogs, that is a different story. They are so good that they are almost addicting. It’s hard to get only one during the whole 10 days of the fair. When fried, the outer batter has a perfect crispness while the inside and is nice and golden and fluffy. I have yet to figure out the secret to how they get them so perfect, but hopefully next week we can explore and find a way to at least somewhat mimic this fair classic.
Take advantage, while the fair is in town, to try out some new and classic fair treats. Let me know which are your favorites and next week we will try to recreate some of them!