Image by iamataman via Flickr
Growing up in LA (Lovely Augusta) was so much fun, I have a treasure chest full of memories that I find myself revisiting from time to time.
A good friend knew that I was attending the Central Florida Fair and she gave me eight dollars and a mission: “get me a Polish Sausage. I will text you to pick it up from you later.” I looked at my friend and was immediately taken back in time.
My dear old Dad (God rest his soul) would make that same request to my sister Greta and I as he dropped us at the Hale Street gate for the Exchange Club Fair in Augusta. Our first task was to find the first stand selling the Polish sausages, buy it and meet Daddy at the gate. The real skill came in getting the “hot-tin foil wrapped dog” through the holes in the chain linked fence.
Completing the Polish sausage dog exchange mission bought us bonus hours at the fair. I learned the power and passion of food as a teenager growing up LA. Over twenty-five years have passed and I found myself smiling as my past and my present came together over a dog of a sausage of the Polish variety.
I had the pleasure of attending the Central Florida Fair to feed my need to participate in two of my favorite sports: people-watching and eating greasy, fattening, and dirty “fair food”. Every year I look forward with child-like anticipation to making a trip to the hot and dusty area known as the fair grounds. My friend Linda and I will block off time on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon to attend the Fair. Last year our busy schedules did not afford us the opportunity to attend the Fair, so we had to makeup for time loss.
The Fair is always sure to do two things: provide great entertainment and great greasy food.
This year the Fair did not come up short in the area of entertainment. From the moment we walked past the turnstile entrance the “people show” was in full swing. People watching is so much fun to do, and I was happy to pay to watch people and their antics at the Fair. Watching people, I saw the strangest combination of clothing and shoes, wild and colorful hairdo’s, and couples that caused you to shake your head in wonderment.
The food at the Fair is the best and the worst offerings you can ever imagine. Remember my one friend and my Daddy would pay to have “Fair food” delivered to them. The “Fair food” is a drug and we just have to have it.
The very first stand on “Fair food” row is the cup of fries with malt vinegar, a true staple that has been around forever. There are corn dogs,hot dogs, sausage dogs, chicken wings, chicken on a stick, chicken strips, onion rings, gyros,fried fish, turkey ribs smothered in sauce, turkey drumsticks, roasted corn, funnel cakes, sweet potato fries, kettle corn, cotton candy, funnel cakes, and ice cream. Did I mention all things fried? The grease supported a little bit of everything from pickles to rice and zingers to candy bars and honey buns, just to name a few. The “Fair food” has an offering for all who care to partake in the guilty pleasure of grease.
I enjoyed walking from row to row watching the corn roasting, seeing the metal basket go up and down in grease. The paper plates holding the funnel cakes covered in powdered sugar, chill cheese fries, twisted twirls of ice cream on waffle and sugar cones, pizza slices full of cheese and toppings, candy apples all red or caramel goo calling you over to the stands to take them home with you. The aroma draws you in and captures your attention, you just have to have it, whatever is your “Fair food” of choice.
The “Fair food” that stopped me in my tracks and made me and others do a double take was the Krispy Kreme Donut Burger with Sweet Potato Fries. Yes I said Krispy Kreme Donuts and burger in the same sentence. This oddity of combinations has quickly become a fair favorite for those who wish to dive in to the food dubbed the “Luther burger” after legendary R&B crooner the late great Luther Vandross. The burger is also known as the “cardiologist nightmare”, two grill hot Krispy Kreme donuts, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles, melted cheese, and a homemade burger. I was told the burger was invented during a drunken escapade of hunger when two guys made burgers and had no buns so they substituted the donuts and the rest is history. I was skeptical at first, but after walking off my turkey ribs, fries, and roasted corn I had to see what this madness of Krispy Kreme donut burgers was all about. Linda and I decided to split a burger, I had already had fries but guys (Stacey and Adam) let me sample the vanilla and honey coated shoestrings fries. I have to admit the marriage of Krispy Kreme sweet and homemade tangy burger juices was great, the lettuce, tomatoes, pickle and onion blended in well. The Krispy Kreme donut burger was the finale and it put a perfect finish on another year at the Fair.
See the link below for an interesting story on the people known as “Carnies” and the city they live in and retire to once “fair life” is over for them. Thanks to Stacey at the Krispy Kreme stand for sharing the great back story.
In ‘Gibtown,’ Life Is A Carnival.