Monday, September 9, 2013

The Fairest of the Tennessee State Fair Fare

Posted By on Mon, Sep 9, 2013 at 2:03 PM

Though I love thrill rides, I make no secret of the fact that my primary reason for visiting the fair is to eat. Last year, I went to the Wilson County Fair and gorged on an unbelievable amount of junk food. This year, I decided to make my first trip to the Tennessee State Fair.

My first impression of the fair was that it was rather small. However, there was plenty to eat and enjoy, including the holy grail of fair food: the pineapple whip. Available only at fairs, a handful of whip stands, in select locations of Disney theme parks, and at the Dole Plantation in Hawaii, the pineapple whip (also known as the Dole Whip) is a soft-serve legend. Its exclusivity makes it that much more popular. It's often the first thing a Disney-phile will purchase during a visit to the Magic Kingdom. There are a few technical differences among them, but the taste is indistinguishable. I don’t even like pineapple all that much, but I love the pineapple whip. Through the course of the day, we got two of them. At $4 each, the pineapple whip was unquestionably the best value of the fair foods. And the best tasting.

And there was a lot of food there (though not as much as the Wilson County Fair). You could literally purchase buckets of both lemonade and nachos. There are also, of course, corn dogs, pretzels, cotton candy, candy apples of all sorts, pizza, roasted corn, turkey legs, funnel cakes, ice cream, smoothies, deep-fried Oreos … all the usual suspects plus something called a hot beef sundae, which — as I’m sure you can guess — I did not try.

Some of the best-looking food was not for sale, though. We took the chance to cool off in the exhibit hall to see the entrants of the fair’s competitions. The prize-winning giant pumpkins and watermelons took center stage, but also on display were tomatoes, eggplants, squashes, apples, pole beans, soybeans, figs, okra and lots of other fruits and vegetables entered for cash prizes and bragging rights. It was understandably frustrating for my young daughter since she couldn’t have or even touch any of this delicious-looking produce. Similarly, I was surprised that after viewing the milking parlor, she still wanted some milk.

Though the real surprise was seeing a few of the local food trucks there. Just as I was about to think my best option for dinner was a piece of not-great-looking pizza, I spotted the Deg Thai truck. I had a hearty portion of Green Curry with tofu to soak up all the pineapple whip and ultra-refined sugar sloshing around in my belly. Just Like Nannie Fixed It was also set up, as well as Papa’s Italian Ice and Bradley’s Curbside Creamery (in Volunteer Village, near the McDonald’s Kids’ Country). The food trucks are on a rotating schedule (though Bradley's is scheduled to be there each day), so be sure to check the Nashville Food Truck Association app or Nashville Food Truck Junkie’s location page to see who’ll be on site.

The Tennessee State Fair runs through this Sunday, Sept. 15, at the fairgrounds at 500 Wedgewood Ave. Check the website for hours of operation, schedule of activities and entertainment and ticket information.

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