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Indiana State Fair includes lineup of weird, wonderful treats

The deep fried chicken and waffle sandwichis one of the newfood features at this year's Indiana State Fair.

By RYAN TRARES - Daily Journal of Johnson County

 Imagine a gooey, custardy sugar cream pie.

The sweet combination of cream, sugar and nutmeg that has made Wick’s Sugar Cream Pie famous is offset by the flaky yet sturdy crust. The pie has been an Indiana tradition for more than 70 years.

Now slather that slice of pie with funnel cake batter and plunk it right in the deep fryer, and you have the newest calorie-busting treat from the Indiana State Fair.

The Indiana State Fair is a celebration of all that makes Hoosiers unique, from its agricultural tradition to its talented artisans to its beer and wine producers. Spinning, twirling carnival rides give kids a thrill, while free performers such as Grand Funk Railroad, Rick Springfield and the Big Top Circus keep fairgoers entertained.

But let’s be real: You come to the fair for the food.

The fair’s lineup of classics such as pork burgers, funnel cakes, buttered corn and fried Oreos are joined by a slate of new items.

Mix savory and sweet with a deep fried chicken and waffle sandwich. Go for extra cheesiness with an inside-out grilled cheese that puts slices of sourdough bread between layers of melted cheese.

To help you track down your favorite new treat at this year’s state fair, here are some of the more unique dishes being offered, and where you can find them.

• Deep-fried chicken and waffle sandwich

What: One of the hottest tastes of the South comes to Indiana, with crispy fried chicken strips stuffed in a fluffy waffle exterior and topped with maple syrup and powdered sugar.

Where to find it: Located in front of the Administration Building on Main Street.

• BBQ Pork Potachoes

What: Start with a layer of seasoned pit potatoes, then pile on barbecue pulled pork before topping the entire thing with cheese and sour cream.

Where to find it: Many stands throughout the fairgrounds will sell them, including in front of the Champions Pavilion, in front of the West Pavilion and in front of Pioneer Village.

• Hatch Green Chile Beef Meatballs

What: Hatch chiles are one of the trendiest foods in culinary circles, and the Indiana Beef Cattle Association has cooked the spicy peppers into their famous meatballs.

Where to find it: In front of the West Pavilion.

• Deep Fried Sugar Cream Pie

What: Wick’s Sugar Cream Pies are the official pie of Indiana, and people all over the state clamor for the sweet concoction. What better ingredient to deep fry with funnel cake batter, coat with powdered sugar and drizzle with chocolate sauce.

Where to find it: Kiddie Land or across from Reynolds Farm Equipment.

• Inside Out Grilled Cheese

What: The American Dairy Association of Indiana’s Dairy Bar is one of the most popular spots on the fairgrounds, and their newest creation will ensure that continues. The sandwich is sourdough bread, grilled with mild cheese on the outside and Gouda cheese on the inside.

Where to find it: The Dairy Bar is located across from the Indiana Farmers Coliseum on Main Street.

• Birthday Cake Shake

What: Another feature of the Dairy Bar, this creamy liquid treat tastes just like a slice of cake – it’s even topped with sprinkles.

Where to find it: Across from the Indiana Farmers Coliseum.

• Peach Cider Slush

What: A frozen mixture of cider and peach sauce blended together is sure to keep people cool on those hot fair days.

Where to find it: West of the Harvest Pavilion, across from the DNR Building or in front of the Administration Building.

• Caramel Apple Elephant Ear

What: Two classic desserts are merged together in sugary bliss when a traditional elephant ear is topped with apple pie filling, drizzled with caramel and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.

Where to find it: In front of Celebration Park or in front of Champions Pavilion.

• The Waybetter Strawberry Milk Shake

What: Start with a homemade strawberry shake, then top it with two cupcakes, a sponge cake, a lollipop, fresh strawberries, whipped cream and Fruity Pebbles for a week’s worth of desserts in one cup.

Where to find it: The DNR Building.

• Turkey Tips

What: Marinated in a house rub, grilled and then topped with mild or hot barbecue sauce, these bite-size snacks are the perfect answer to the abundance of sweets you’re sure to be eating.

Where to find them: Across from the DNR Building.

• Piggy Popcorn with Sweet Yum Yum Sauce

What: Indiana loves its pork, so it makes sense that the state fair’s version of popcorn includes a deep fried seasoned pork cutlet with sweet Hawaiian chili sauce drizzled on top.

Where to find it: In front of the Indiana Arts Building or across from the Glass Barn.

Indiana State Fair

When: Through Aug. 19

Where: 1202 E. 38th St., Indianapolis

Admission: $13 at the gate; $2 on Aug. 7 and 14. Kids 5 and under are free.


Information and schedule of events: indianastatefair.com