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What’s New on This Year’s Circuit?

What’s going on at this year’s fair?

State fairs, county fairs and carnivals play a traditional role, a kind of comic relief in the drama that is summer’s last hurrah.

With autumn on the horizon, and many schools already back in session, here’s a snapshot of a few things that caught our eye—and tempted the taste buds of this season’s fairgoers.

Going Green

You don’t necessarily think of the fair as an environmentally friendly sort of event, with its lights blazing and flashing, and amusement rides zigging and zagging, but some fairs are definitely trying be greener.

At the Illinois State Fair, The Donut Family was up for the fair’s Green Vendor Award, simply because they served their food in paper rather than styro. In California and Washington states, fairs have installed solar panels to generate electricity, and are converting used frying oil into biofuel. Missouri State Fair goers now find recycling bins on the fairgrounds for the first time ever.

Many fairs used to keep their bright lights blazing all night long, past closing time and until sunup. Most now at least flip the switch to ‘Off’ after hours.

A Vegetarian’s Fair

Just north of the U.S. border, you can discover a fair for those who want their corndog without the dog. The annual Vegetarian Food Fair in Toronto offers visitors a diverse cross-section of vegetarian cuisine. Fairgoers enjoy a wide variety of exhibitions, cooking demos, children’s entertainment and rock concerts.

The International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), popularly known as the Hare Krishna Movement, is even represented, engaging in karma-free cooking and eating.

Deep-Fried Still a Fair Fave

At this year’s New York State Fair at Giants Stadium you couldn’t walk far without confronting a deep-fried concoction, whether it be deep fried Oreos, deep-fried pickles or gooey cheese fries. And of course, funnel cakes and corn dogs.

But if you look a little harder, you can find some things outside the usual fair fare. At the Miami Dade County Fair (which is held in the spring) you can get a roast beef sundae. What is it? Top round, slow-cooked till fork-tender; the pulled shreds are then placed between mounds of mashed potatoes, and topped with brown gravy, melted Cheddar cheese and a cherry tomato. Sounds pretty good.

You can also sample noshes such as Swedish meatballs in dill sauce, Belgian waffle sticks with jam, and paninis, plus smiley fries shaped like a happy face with the texture of mashed potatoes under a golden crust.

All in all, there’s something for everyone at the fair. I wonder what the world’s smallest bearded lady has to eat on her lunch break.