The Best Food at the State Fair Isn’t for Sale (or Edible, Frankly)


If you’re looking for advice on the best new food on a stick at our Wisconsin State Fair, there are at least a dozen articles you can turn to. This is not one of those articles. Please, PLEASE do not try to eat anything we feature here.

Every year, our Wisconsin State Fair runs a best of Wisconsin culinary competition, and for 14 days in the sweltering heat of a Southeast Wisconsin summer, you can view the winning entries. And you will do so as they molder and ooze their way into something quite different than what they were upon judging. Which, I mean, come on – that’s awesome!

Of everything we saw, I think the best (by which of course I mean the most progressed toward truly disgusting) entries fell within a very self-knowingly named category: Atypical Fair Foods: Fresh Fruit & Veggies. I’m sure they were fresh at one time, but…

"Fresh" fruit competition

Those kabobs. Oof.

I have never seen a spectacle like this before. It is wonderful. And heinous. But also really wonderful.

Let me be very clear – in no way do I mean any disrespect toward the contest entrants and winners. I’m willing to argue that these competitions are the best thing about our State Fair, and the spectacle of watching what happens to food over 10 hot days is a big, ugly-but-delightful bonus. A few cases in point:


Oh casserole. You’re so delicious, but your shelf life is not seven days.


Some winning selections from the Spam category, all of which at this point would certainly kill even the toughest Badger.


Food that looks like animals. I’m sure we can all agree that baby pig potatoes trying to feed from a momma pig potato is genius, and that artichoke/sweet potato hedgehog borders on fine art.

Every year I come to see what’s been entered and every year, I kick myself for not entering. But not next year – I’ve put the entry dates on my calendar. You can do so, too, and learn about all the categories here:

But don’t miss out on this year’s competition. You’ve got until August 14th, and believe me, it’s well worth the trip.