Fair food is the ultimate guilty pleasure indulgence, and while it has been a few years since my last visit to the Arkansas State Fair, I thought it was time to spend an early afternoon partaking in some of the more “exotic” food offerings. Before we get to the eats, it’s important to know some facts. The Arkansas State Fair runs from October 15-24. Gates open at 11 a.m., and on Monday-Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., both admission and parking are free. Remember, this is fair food, so please keep in mind that everything is overpriced, which just comes with the territory. Here is a full list of tasty treats and a quick rundown of my artery-clogging adventure.
Corn Dog ($7)
After walking through the entrance, I made a beeline for the corn dog stand. Ten minutes later, I was raising my first fried purchase up to the sky to take the pretty little picture you see in this post. This was a standard corn dog, perfectly fried, with slightly sweet batter around a cheap hotdog. I’ve had better in the area, like the one at Travelers games, but overall, it was a nice way to get the eating festivities started.
Reuben Sandwich ($10)
I am caught in the middle on this Reuben sandwich. On one hand, I really enjoyed watching its preparation. The 4-foot-wide skillet was super cool, and I respected how the cook fried each item individually, from the kraut to corned beef to bread. But in the end, the ingredients were of poor quality and the sandwich reflected that unfortunate attribute. Was it terrible? No. But there are far better food options at the state fair.
Fried Key Lime Pie ($7)
I could not pass up a visit to the “Fried What?” stand, as crazy fried food options provide the foundation of any festival culinary experience. Fried Oreos, Twinkies, brownies, and cheesecake seem fine, but the fried Key lime pie is what caught my eye. It ended up being an outstanding selection. A thick, beignet-like exterior with a solid dousing of powdered sugar gave way to this warm, gooey, custardy inside. The lime flavor was also apparent, making this fried treat a must-purchase. And of course, it all resided on a stick.
Philly Bowl ($14)
I hate using the word “meh” as it pertains to food, but that is exactly what comes to mind when I think about this Philly Bowl. First, the good news. The thin-cut fries were solid, as was the tender, albeit under-seasoned pieces of ribeye. Unfortunately, the canned cheese sauce was a disappointment, even by canned cheese sauce standards. We still devoured most of it, although this is not something I’d order again, especially not with a $14 price tag.
Gator On-A-Stick ($15)
The most expensive dish of the afternoon was also the best. How does a stick-full of fried gator chunks, sound? OK, maybe that doesn’t sound good. But trust me, this is an absolute hit, especially after a sprinkle of some Slap Ya Mama seasoning (located next to the register). And yes, it will remind you of fried chicken, thanks to the mild flavor and similar texture. Each piece of gator is separated by a sliver of fried onion, which is also outstanding.