The Spokane County Interstate Fair is so close you can almost taste it.
The corn dogs and turkey legs, elephant ears and funnel cakes, burgers, doughnuts, doughnut burgers, curly fries and such curiosities as a serving of deep-fried chocolate-chip cookie dough.
This year’s theme is “Lettuce Turnip the Jam.”
But you’ll be hard-pressed to find any turnips in any of the menu items from this year’s food vendors.
Lettuce, maybe. Turnips, not so much. Jam, perhaps on a danish.
The 10-day fair runs Friday through Sept. 16. Here’s what you need to know about this year’s fair food line-up.
There’s an entire stand dedicated to huckleberry yums. Huckleberries have a cult following around these parts. So Elle’s Huckleberry booth is sure to be busy. It specializes in huckleberry cheesecake, ice cream, sundaes, shakes, pies and coolers. Um, one of each, please.
Eating fair food helps raise money for local charities. It does. Really. Yes, it does. That giant turkey leg fit for a medieval feast – with the possibility of corn on the cob and a baked potato on the side – raises money for Spokane-East Club of Rotary International, which in turn uses it to fund local service projects. Members of VFW Post No. 51 and auxiliary are selling burgers, fries, hot dogs, chili dogs, chili burgers and potato salad. The P-51 Burger – two patties, cheese, ham and bacon – is a top-seller. Proceeds from the Moonshriners booth go to the local Shriners Hospital. If you are a fan of elephant ears, their stand is a must-stop. Their scratch-made dough is butter-brushed, deep-fried and dusted – make that heavily dusted – with cinnamon and sugar. And it’s glorious. Spokane’s El Katif Shriners also have a stand selling pizza, German sausage, popcorn, cotton candy, sno-cones, hot dogs and waffle dogs on a stick. And the Spokane Valley Kiwanis Club is offering up fish, fries, grilled salmon, shrimp, chicken strips and chicken strip sandwiches.
You’ll find some of your local faves. The Longhorn Barbecue chain of casual barbecue eateries originated in Texas in 1945. It was founded by two brothers, who moved to Spokane after 10 years in business. Today, it has two locations in Spokane and another in Auburn. At the fair, it serves up a beef sandwich, German sausage, chicken, fries, slaw, potato salad and barbecued beans. The mini mobile version of Azar’s, the longtime Greek and Middle Eastern restaurant on North Monroe Street, is bringing Greek fare. Mary Lou’s, a highly recognizable staple on West Garland Avenue with its milk bottle-shaped building, has its locally made ice cream in waffle cones as well as shakes, pies, muffins, cinnamon rolls, coffee and danishes. Local chain Pizza Rita has piping-hot pizza by the slice. And, Spokandy is doing caramel apples, hand-dipped ice cream bars and confections.
We weren’t kidding about the deep-fried chocolate-chip cookie dough. Azar’s has it. It also has hamburger doughnuts and something called a cotton-candy burrito as well as deep-fried ravioli and deep-fried lasagna. Do what you will with that information. We won’t judge you. It’s the fair.
There are plenty of opportunities to say “cheese.” Mac Daddy’s Gourmet Grub has a four-cheese mac and cheese, a grilled mac and cheese sandwich and more cheesy goodness. The Baja Bowl booth has nachos, Texas fries, quesadillas, burritos, tacos and fajitas. The Bread Barn/Taste of Italy booth has cheese-and-garlic toast and lasagna as well as a shrimp and crab sandwich, strawberry shortcake, lemonade and bread. Big Bear Chocolates has nachos as well as fudge, caramel apples, cotton candy and German sausage. Bartlett’s Bakers Dozen has nachos along with mini doughnuts, hot dogs and German sausage. Spokane Catering is offering “Mexican menu items,” and there’s sure to be cheese on those.
It’s OK to feel crabby or corny – or both. The locally based Old-Fashioned Kettle Corn Co. has kettle corn in flavors such as white cheddar, caramel and apple cinnamon. The Chesapeake Bay Crab Co. has crab cakes as well as a seafood Caesar wrap and shrimp Caesar along with crepes, gyros and a Greek salad.
You might want to noodle around or “ter” it up. Island Noodles has wok-fried soba noodles with fresh veggies. Lylo’s Teriyaki has a vegetable stir-fry, noodles, rice and chicken teriyaki.
It’s a fairly meaty menu. Meat is a main ingredient at most fair food booths. Here are a few more that haven’t yet been mentioned. Eldon’s New York Style Sausage has New York-style Italian sausage with grilled onion, bell pepper and tomatoes. Fiesta Time Foods has a breaded tenderloin sandwich, hot dogs, corn dogs, burgers, chicken nuggets and fries. Izzy’s BBQ Concessions is doing barbecue ribs, burgers, chicken, chicken, a steak sandwich, a pork sandwich, curly fries and corn. Leonardo’s Bistro has a barbecue sandwich as a well as a Caribbean platter, vegetarian option, and fruit crepes. Philly Express has Philly steak sandwiches. Sub-Division has sub sandwiches, chips, potato salad and beverages.
You might need to cool off. Lonnie Bill’s Tropical Snow has Hawaiian shaved ice. H & H Blue Vending has ice cream cones, sundaes and “frosty delights” – along with strawberry shortcake, hot dogs, corn dogs, German sausage on a stick and cheese on a stick. A&W Root Beer has root beer floats – as well as traditional fair foods, including burgers, hot dogs, coney dogs and french fries. Wild Bill’s Soda has specialty soda in collectible mugs. And the Oregon Beverage Co. has beer, wine, liquor, water, tomato juice, non-alcoholic beer, pop and popcorn.
Have fun. That is, funnel cake. You can find this fair food staple at the Pennsylvania Dutch Funnel Cakes stand.