Illinois State Fair Foodie: Seven dairy delights not to miss at the 2019 fair
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Illinois State Fair Foodie: Seven dairy delights not to miss at the 2019 fair

After the carnival rides and the obligatory visit to your favorite lemon shake-up stand, the best place to stay cool for Illinois State Fair goers on Aug. 8-18 is the Dairy Products Building where the butter cow steals the show and sweet dairy treats create long lines.

Besides the 500 pounds of butter that sculptor Sarah Pratt uses to create our favorite creamy bovine over the course of five days, plenty of dairy deliciousness awaits. Here’s Pratt at work, courtesy of Springfield State Fair via Facebook:

Here are our favorites, some of which can be found at the Dairy Goodness Bar, sponsored by Illinois dairy farmers at the Dairy Products Building.

Cream puffs – This light and fluffy desert was the 2018 winner of the State Journal Register Golden Abe’s Fantastic Fair Food People’s Choice Award. Now given how many food vendors line the fair each year, this is no easy feat. This delicacy will naturally be in the home to the butter cow in the Dairy Products Building.

Ice cream – Uh duh, of course that is a must. Prairie Farms traditionally has a booth near the Giant Slide, but in the Dairy Products building there is an assortment of nine flavors of hand-scooped ice cream. Those flavors include Sea Salt Caramel, Butter Pecan and Cookie Dough in addition to the classics such as Chocolate, French Vanilla and Strawberry.

Deep Fried Cheese Curds – Here we are talking the fried variety. We have our favorite stands of course here at CIB, but one that seems to specialize in this ooey gooey delicacy is Charlie Cheese & Sons LLC, which can be found on Main St. just west of the Expo Building. Another favorite that also has mozzarella sticks is Kropp Enterprises on Grandstand Ave.

Cheese-on-a-stick – Think of it like a inside out pizza without the sauce and on a stick. Don’t knock it ‘til you try it. It can be found at Brown’s Concession on Main St. in front of the North End of the Emmerson Building. Pam’s Concessions on Main St. in front of Happy Hollow is offering up Deep Fried Cheese-on-a-Stick, while Pat & Mike’s Corner on Coliseum Lane also is advertising its own variety of Cheese-on-a-Stick, proving once again how popular this fair delight is.

Mac ‘n Cheese – Okay, Lobster Mac ‘n Cheese may be a little out of our pure dairy range, but it still has everyone’s favorite side dish. Gators and Taters will be serving this up on Main St. across from the Fire Museum. For the purist in the family, swing by Layne Concession on Illinois Ave., which has Fried Mac & Cheese bites.

Gelato – Those who are up for more Italian/European fare there is a stand that offers up a variety of desserts – including Gelato and yummy Cheesecake-on-a-Stick! Check out Gelato Bravo on Grandstand Ave (pictured below). Mamma Mia Concessions on Illinois Ave. also has Deep Fried Cheesecake.

Grilled Cheese – Mehan’s Lemonade is offering up Gourmet Grilled Cheese sandwiches this year, of course offering a perfect lemonade pairing.

Susan Barreto

Written by Susan Barreto

Susan is an award-winning journalist who has worked for a number of regional and global publications. Much of her career has been covering the global finance industry for publications published by Crains, Reuters and Euromoney/Institutional Investor. She also interned and later freelanced for Rockford Magazine as well as the Northwestern Illinois Farmer newspaper.

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