Foodies

From bacon hot dogs to classic cotton candy, the Georgia Fair is a foodie’s paradise

The rides, shows and musical acts are why many people flock to the Georgia National Fairgrounds in Perry, Georgia. But for others, it is all about one thing: food.

The fair food ranges from classics to crazy with a little bit of something for everyone. The adventurous eaters can pig out on countless food monstrosities while others can grab the best portable dish to take in the sights and sounds of the midway.

Everything from savory to the ridiculously sweet can be found up and down the sides of the grounds. The fans blowing the smells out to draw in the average fair-goer act like a lighthouse for someone lost in a sea of foodie heaven.

Even the state’s governor took part in the festivities.

We ran into Georgia Governor Brian Kemp at the Georgia Grown building where he gave a speech to open up the fair this year. He said his three must-haves are a hot dog, funnel cake and ice cream.

We decided to take Foodie Friday to the fair and check out some of the best dishes that the Georgia National Fair had to offer — and it did not disappoint.

The crazy

For the first bite, my eyes quickly found a vendor advertising some of my favorite words: bacon and mac ‘n’ cheese.

The little food cart serves up different takes on the classic hot dog including one version with bacon and peanut butter, and another topped with mac ‘n’ cheese and bacon.

The mac ‘n cheese dog is your standard hot dog wrapped in thick, crispy bacon then topped with what appeared to be Kraft macaroni and cheese with additional bacon crumbled on top. The macaroni and cheese was cold and not nearly cheesy enough. The standout here was the bacon-wrapped hot dog.

It had a great flavor with the crunch of the bacon to provide some additional flavor. This is a dish that is easy to replicate at home but go with a warmer, cheesier macaroni and cheese.

The best part of the meal may have actually have been the ice cold lemonade. It was the perfect compliment to the bacon-wrapped dog.

It wasn’t quite as good as what I was hoping for but it was a nice starter for the day at the fair.

Other things that jumped out while walking around included a chicken-waffle on a stick and the fried pork chop on a stick. These are both great options for those who love a portable version of some popular sit-down comfort foods.

The classics

Jenna went with a corn dog. The key to a good corn dog is the batter, and this one wasn’t too crispy or burnt.

Jenna’s review of the dish, however, is probably fair: “It’s a corn dog.”

Since most places can execute this dish with ease, it is really about finding the best deal. There are some value tents with prices around $2.50 but others can get expensive when you get the footlong version of it.

I also decided to visit Famous Gabby’s, a place I discovered as a kid growing up going to the fair in Perry each year. This is the one place that is a must on my list. This time I decided to try something new with their pork kabobs.

Typically, they serve everything from turkey legs to a rib plate. The kabobs were good but needed some of the barbecue sauce that they had around back in the seating area to give it the extra kick of flavor. Overall the key for this dish (over some of the other offerings from this vendor) lies in the portability of it.

You can easily go around eating off the tiny bites of pork while checking out a magic show or watching your kids duke it out in the bumper cars.

Other fair foods classic that were widely available including favorites like roasted corn, Italian sausage dogs, pretzels and hot dogs.

The desserts

One of the best parts of the fair is the sweet treats. Most of these offerings you’ll find are of the fried variety, like candy bars and Oreos dipped in a batter and deep-fried. If you are really up for a challenge, a bucket of mini donuts might be the best way to round out your cheat day at the fair.

Jenna said her go-to is a bag of cotton candy. While I usually lean into a comforting deep-fried dish, this time I went for a bowl of peach cobbler with ice cream.

The peach cobbler was warm and blended well with the peach-flavored ice cream.

This really hit the spot with temperatures in the mid-90s (we went on day one of the fair before temperatures cooled down this week). It was also great to have a dish that highlights the Georgia aspect of the fair. There are many attractions that do that, such as the Georgia Grown building, but this gives you a true taste of a Georgia staple.

The one plus to the cotton candy and candy apples is you don’t have to scarf it down all at once and can save a taste of the fair for later on. This is especially useful when you’re already stuffed from the corn dogs, fried cheese and bacon-wrapped shrimp.

Cost

The cost of the same dish can vary greatly from vendor to vendor, so it’s worth checking a few booths before making a final decision. Generally, the more unique the dish is the more expensive it tends to be as there isn’t a competition to keep the price lower.

To get an idea of what your overall fair costs might look like, here’s a breakdown of the dishes mentioned above:

Pork Kabobs: $7

Drink: $6

Mac N Cheese Bacon Dog: $6

Lemonade: $4

Peach Cobbler and ice cream: $6

Corn Dog: $5

Cotton Candy: $4

Total: $38

Justin Baxley is the fan life reporter at The Telegraph and writes stories centered around entertainment, food and sports in the Macon community. Justin joined the Telegraph staff after graduating from Mercer University in May 2017 with a degree in criminal justice and journalism. During his time at Mercer he served as the sports editor for The Cluster.
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