Food is a huge draw for the Elkhart County 4-H Fair.

Sampling food at the fair is like tackling a food challenge, you have to take your time and not overdo it because there’s a bunch to eat. I wanted to make sure I tried this year’s new food options, but I’m only one man with one stomach.

I didn’t make it out to Auntie Anne’s to try their 4-H clover-shaped pretzel buns, and I didn’t try the flavor of the day at the Dairy Bar (I had to get my favorite, strawberry). But the great thing is, it means I may have to go back this week.

How did the new food stack up? Check out my impressions below.

FUNNEL BACON ON A STICK

Funnel Bacon on a Stick from the Best Around concession is one of the new food items at the 2016 Elkhart County 4-H Fair. Bacon is wrapped on a stick, deep fried, dipped in funnel cake batter, deep fried again and covered with powdered sugar and maple syrup. (Flavor 574 photo/Joe Kuharic)
Funnel Bacon on a Stick from the Best Around concession is one of the new food items at the 2016 Elkhart County 4-H Fair. Bacon is wrapped on a stick, deep fried, dipped in funnel cake batter, deep fried again and covered with powdered sugar and maple syrup.
(Flavor 574 photo/Joe Kuharic)

Flavor Food Guy Marshall V. King sampled this one before I got out to the fair, and he’s a fan. But, there was no way I was going to the fair and not giving this a taste.

He nailed the description in his article when he said, “It’s sweet and salty, meaty and cakey,” and those flavors and textures work perfectly together. The batter on the piece I tried was soft and sweet, and the bacon was nice and salty.

The only issue I had with the Funnel Bacon on a Stick was that I was literally biting off more than I could chew. Several of my bites pulled more bacon and batter off than I wanted and I had to frantically make sure I didn’t lose it, which was only a problem because I wanted to enjoy it slowly.

Marshall’s right, it’s a must try.

It’s available for $5 from the Best Around booth.

DEEP FRIED PEANUT BUTTER AND BACON

Pence Concessions a new twist on one of their favorites. At the 2016 Elkhart County 4-H Fair, they're deep frying peanut butter and bacon together for a tasty treat. (Flavor 574 photo/Joe Kuharic)
Pence Concessions a new twist on one of their favorites. At the 2016 Elkhart County 4-H Fair, they’re deep frying peanut butter and bacon together for a tasty treat.
(Flavor 574 photo/Joe Kuharic)

Pence Concessions are well known on Food Row, and for good reason.

Their delicious deep-fried treats have included fruits like peaches, sweets like chocolate and peanut butter, and even tried some tequila balls at the 2015 fair. This year, they combined their deep fried peanut butter bites with pieces of bacon.

I had a gut level feeling that these were gonna be tasty, and they didn’t let me down.

The powdered-sugar coated bites were soft and gooey, with just enough saltiness and texture from the bacon to keep them from being too sweet.

I’d consider eating them along something with a little more salt, just to keep the sweetness of the peanut butter down.

These cost $6 for a container of three.

WAFFLE CHICKEN SANDWICH

The Coop, food service by the Elkhart County 4-H Fair Poultry Club, is offering an extensive menu of chicken meals including a waffle and chicken sandwich. (Flavor 574 photo/Joe Kuharic)
The Coop, food service by the Elkhart County 4-H Fair Poultry Club, is offering an extensive menu of chicken meals including a waffle and chicken sandwich.
(Flavor 574 photo/Joe Kuharic)

The coolest addition to the fair this year is The Coop, a concession building that houses the Elkhart County 4-H Fair Poultry Club.

The club worked in conjunction with Nelson’s BBQ and Catering to offer an extensive menu of chicken dishes for this year’s fair. Menu items offer a good variety and range from chicken nuggets to four-piece chicken dinners.

RELATED:
Seven fair food favorites to eat at the Elkhart County 4-H Fair, July 20, 2015

My money was on the waffle chicken sandwich though, because I can never turn down chicken and waffles.

The waffle slices were cooked to a perfect golden brown and were delicately sweet. The chicken had the right amount of breading on it (with the right amount of spice) and was juicy. The pickles tasted fresh and crisp, and made a great addition.

I wanna try the rest that The Coop offers, but I’d seriously consider just ordering the waffle chicken sandwich again.

This one’ll setcha back $6.50.

WATER JOE

Water Joe is a new item added to the Food Row at the Elkhart County 4-H Fair for 2016. With 70mg of caffeine per 20 oz. serving, it's a healthier replacement for soda pop. (Flavor 574 photo/Joe Kuharic)
Water Joe is a new item added to the Food Row at the Elkhart County 4-H Fair for 2016. With 70 mg of caffeine per 20 oz. serving, it’s a healthier replacement for soda pop.
(Flavor 574 photo/Joe Kuharic)

As a coffee drinker, I love my caffeine. Water Joe has been around since 1996, so it’s not like caffeinated water is a new thing, but I’d never tried it before.

How much caffeine is in 20 oz.?

Coca-Cola: 57 mg
Coffee: 415 mg
Green tea: 62.5 mg
Water Joe: 70 mg

I drink about six 20 ounce cups of coffee on a given day, so I wasn’t expecting much. Truly, I just tasted water. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Water Joe is described as “just water infused with a kick of caffeine,” according to the company’s website. The site also explains that there’s “no sugar, no artificial sweeteners, no carbs, no color, no taste.” That adds up to being a better caffeine option than soda pop.

Several booths around the fair sell Water Joe, and it runs $2.50 a bottle. Not a bad deal if you need some caffeine but it’s too hot for coffee and pop is too sweet.

WHAT’S THE VERDICT?

I wasn’t disappointed by any of the items that I tried at the fair this year, but I think The Coop and the Poultry Club really shined with the waffle and chicken sandwich. I fully plan to head back and try some of their other menu items before the fair ends on July 30.

Do you agree or disagree with Joe?
Let us know in the comments.

All of the items on this list are worth your attention if you even kinda think you might like it.

That being said, I still made sure to leave room for my favorite meal at the fair: A grilled cheese sandwich and a small strawberry soft serve from the Dairy Bar.

Eat what you love at the fair this year, but be adventurous!

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1 COMMENT

  1. You have to try the Dole Whip at the Bunny Hut! It’s a pineapple sorbet, and they also sell it as a float (with pineapple juice). They are extremely popular down at Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL (it has quite a fanbase), and I think you can only get them at Disney World, Disneyland, and one place in Hawaii. So I was surprised to see it offered at the fair!

    I’m not sure if the machine made it differently, or if the ratio was different than at Disney World, but it looked more yellow at the fair; also tasted a bit more strong of pineapple which made sense, since the coloring was more vibrant. Not necessarily a bad thing. But it’s 99% like the ones I love down at WDW. I recommend it as a treat if you’re tired of the same ice cream. 🙂

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