The Elkhart County 4-H Fair has long been a place where fair food comes battered, fried and sugared — on a stick.
This year, look for Funnel Bacon on a Stick. The funnel refers to funnel cake batter, not a device to get grease into your system quickly.
The Elkhart County 4-H Fair, which will be open July 22 to 30 on the east side of Goshen, is one of the largest county fairs in the U.S. It’s Food Row — between the Heritage Park, midway and 4-H livestock barns — has dozens of fair food vendors, ranging from professional concessionaires to non-profit groups.
Best Around Concessions plans to put a thick strip of bacon on a skewer, deep fry it, dip it in funnel cake batter, fry it again and then top it with maple buttercream icing or syrup in caramel or chocolate flavors, according to Kevin McGrath II, whose family oversees the booth. The item will be available at the Best Around booth next to Heritage Park.
But wait, there’s more.
Pence Concessions near the Ferris wheel has been frying fair food for generations. In recent years, Pence has fried fruit and last year tried fried tequila balls. This year, Pence will offer deep fried peanut butter and bacon. Elvis must be proud somewhere.
The Auntie Anne’s food truck on the northern edge of the fairgrounds near the fair’s office building will have breakfast sandwiches using a 4-H clover-shaped pretzel bun. Ben’s Soft Pretzels may be on the grounds near the grandstand, according to information from Tim Yoder, Elkhart County 4-H Fair Board member.
Concessionaires throughout the fair will offer Water Joe, caffeinated bottled water. That’s in addition to the thousands of gallons of soda sold at the fair and a decent amount of coffee and other beverages.
For decades, the Order of the Starlight Chapter 181 operated one of the few fully enclosed food buildings at the fair as a small restaurant. It got more difficult for the group to operate the place, which was one of the most popular breakfast spots on the grounds.
The 4-H Poultry Club, which hasn’t had a booth, will operate a food concession in the building. The menu, intentionally designed not to duplicate the one at Nelson’s, will include chicken nuggets, fried chicken dinners and chicken mac and cheese. Items range from $4 to $9. Chicken and waffles will debut at the fair this year as a $6.50 sandwich using waffles as the bun.
Editor’s note: Due to a staff error, a previous version of this story was published with the incorrect name of the Starlight Chapter. The above version was amended on Tuesday, July 19. Flavor 574 regrets the error.