Jay Fox's Dining Guide
Party 'til the cows come home
“Scientists tell us we are what we eat. Nuts must be more common in diets than we thought.” — Anonymous
GET READY, ONE AND ALL, FOR THE 2009 COLORADO STATE FAIR! All you Denverites, Lakewoodonians, Arvadites, Wheat Ridgers, Golden Oldies, Evergreenies, Pagosanians, Fremontonians and all the rest of you Coloradans — even those from the People’s Republic of Boulder, drive down/up/across to Pueblo and visit the funnest fair of ‘em all. I really do luv the state fair. The fair runs thru Monday, September 7 (Labor Day). G and I haven’t decided which of our six perfect grandchildren we’re taking this year, but rest assured we’ll be down there, exhausted after about two hours.
This ain’t just a fair, folks; this is An Event. One of the biggest and bestest in the country. There will be entertainment in the Events Center as well as loads of free entertainment in the amphitheater and other venues at the fairgrounds. Maps and schedules are available in the daily newspapers and at the fairgrounds box offices.
How’s this for some heavy hitter entertainment? Gaither Vocal Band, Foreigner, Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals, Darius Rucker, Mariachi Reyna De Los Angeles, and 30H!3. Check the state fair Web site for dates and prices (www.coloradostatefair.com).
THE Carnival. Big Sucka. More rides than Carter has liver pills. 100+ rides, games and attractions. Open ‘til midnite every nite. You can ride unlimited for $25 a day, or $80 for the entire eleven days of the fair. They got this Children’s Barnyard to meet some of your favorite four-legged and feathered friends. It’s fun for old farts, too. Wanna milk a cow? You can do it at the fair.
There’s a parade, rodeos, livestock exhibits, demonstrations, hot tubs to dunk in, and everything dumb on earth to buy. Course I always buy something. There’s 4-H stuff, and more. And there’s food.
FOOD! My kinda place. Would you believe I spent a day at the fair once and didn’t eat a thing? Of course, nothing was open yet, but I was there. Wait ‘til Saturday when I go back. Bring on them hot dogs, buggers and brats. There’s lotsa sausages: Italian sausage, German sausage, Polish sausage, Kielbasa sausage, Lakewood sausage, veal sausage, pork sausage, and chicken sausage. This year they even got a New York dog. Yo! I want turkey legs, corn on the cob, chix on a stick, corn dogs, and pizza, by the slice and the whole damn thing. Maybe some bbq’d you-name-it-they-got-it. Sangies of every kind: ham, tuna salad, chicken salad, egg salad, pork, roast beef, and even sloppy joes. And nachos and fajitas and shrimp thingies and chicken. Chicken? That stuff comes fried, baked, boiled, broiled, barbecued and burnt. On a stick, on a plate, in a sangie, or in a cup. Howsabout almonds, hazelnuts, cinnamon rolls or homemade pie? Ice cream? In a cup, on a stick, in a cone, or on the ground, and all 47,003 flavors. What’s a fair without spuds? They got French fries, curly fries, round fries, baked fries, and fried fries. Gimme a malt, shake, hot coffee, iced coffee, cappuccino, lemonade, iced tea, and muh gotta-have-it. Diet Pepsi with lotsa fizz. And there’s lotsa that disgusting delicious traditional fair stuff that you can’t stay away from: fry bread, candied apples, caramel corn, corn on the cob, cotton candy, pretzels and funnel cake. There’s fried cheese and fried veggies and fried egg rolls and hot wings and jalapeno poppers and jerky of all kinds, and candies and nuts and even a salad or two.
Prices getcha down? Not at the State Fair. Reasonable prices cuz the Fair folks OK the menus and the prices before a vendor is allowed to sell his wares. I didn’t get a menu this year, but here’s a sampling from two years ago. Prices may vary slightly from vendor to vendor. An ice cream cone $3.00. A giant, 20 oz shake or malt $6.00. Nachos $4.00. A 1/3 lb bugger $3.75. All beef hot dog $2.75. Popcorn $2.25. French fries $3.00. 24 oz draft Budweiser $5.50. Tri tip BBQ sangie (muh fav) $8.00. Turkey leg $7.75. Corn on the cob $3.00. Giant soft drink $2.75. Bottle of more-likely-than-not-tap water $2.00-$2.50. Steak sangie $7.50. Chili fries $5.00. Fry bread $3.00 and up. Funnel cakes $5.00. Wow, here’s the menu from Western Dairy that sez they got an ice cream cone for $1.50 and a malt’s only $3.00. Like I sed earlier, this price list is from two years ago, so expect some changes.
Want unusual? There’s food from all over the world: French, German, Greek, Italian, Mexican, Native American and Thai. I’m sure I left someone out, but that’s the way the mop flops.
There’s a trailer with Philly cheesesteaks, ribeye buggers and buggers. If you’re not on a diet, they got some mean-lookin’ chocolate-dipped bananas. Then there’s a nutty fella from Littleton in a trailer called The Nuttery. All cinnamon roasted nuts: almonds, pecans, cashews and peanuts.
There’s a new BBQ place but he’s gonna have to go a long way to beat Big Bubba’s Bad BBQ, but we’ll give it the formal test this weekend.
Then there’s the deliteful folks who run the “Ninja Express” with a printed menu, even, so they get extra space. Ninja Style (I think that means it kicks you in the head) Teriyaki beef and chicken, cashew chicken, egg rolls, tempura dishes and other goodies.
In the big tent in the entertainment area, again this year is Giodone’s Famous and Fabulous Italian Grub. If you ain’t had one of Anna Maria’s meataballs, you ain’t lived. The Giodones close their east Pueblo eatery for the entire run of the fair soes you get the very best. And don’t forget their killer sausage sangie.
Of course, muh old (as opposed to ole) bud, Jumpin’ Jim Beatty is still doing the grub at the Coors Grandstand, the Events Center, and the Amphitheater. The man is so good he’s turning out the best chile rellenos this side of the other side. If you see Jim, tell him The Fox sentcha.
A FINAL WORD. Just cuz I ‘ain’t mentioned a specific cart or trailer, don’t take it as bad; I can’t possibly get ‘em all in. I tried to get the interesting ones as well as new or different vendors. If I get there and it’s bad, I’ll leave bloodstains on the northeast corner of the front of the trailer soes you’ll know it sucks. Seriously, most vendors are pros. This is their livelihood, traveling around the country doing state and county fairs. They offer first class stuff cuz they can’t afford for word to get around they got junk. And, the Pueblo Health Department dudes watch everyone and everything like hawks. They’re sticking their little temperature gizmos into every thing. Well, most everything. You owe ‘em big time cuz they make sure everything you eat and drink is 100 percent safe. So mosey on down. Less than two hours from Denver and the drive’s perty.
Esteemed Colorado Statesman restaurant reviewer Jay Fox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.