When you visit the State Fair, there are three classic food spots you must be sure to hit -- Corn Roast, Rice Kristie Bars and Fresh French Fries.
At the Corn Roast, the name says it all. Owner Brad Ribar -- with an assist from nearly 100 staffers -- has been roasting sweet corn (harvested from a Monticello, Minn., farm) since 1985. Expect to encounter a line -- Ribar said he sold somewhere in the neighborhood of 190,000 cobs last year-- but it moves fast. At $3 a pop, Ribar's sweet corn is one of the fair's better bargains, and nothing goes to waste; the husks and cobs and even the napkins are composted.
Dan Patch Av. and Nelson St.
Sugar hounds know to head to Rice Kristie Bars, where Kristi Stratton and Gail Sullivan have been whipping up colorful derivations of the Rice Krispies Treat (calling upon Froot Loops, Cocoa Krispies, Golden Grahams, M&Ms, Reese's Pieces and peanut butter) since 1992. The gigantic bars -- just six to a 9-by-13-inch pan -- are made fresh daily ($5 to $5.50), and they're served with what might be the fair's best beverage deal: 16-ounce sodas or milk, for a buck.
Carnes Av. between Nelson St. and Underwood St.
The secret to Fresh French Fries is simplicity: Seven semi-trailers (about 300,000 pounds) of Big Lake, Minn.-grown spuds are peeled, cut, fried in trans fat-free vegetable oil and dusted with salt. That's it, along with Heinz ketchup and malt vinegar. The price is equally appealing: $5 to $9. Owner Dan Wozniak got the idea for a French fry stand while visiting the boardwalk at Ocean City, Md., and today he and his family manage a staff of about 130 employees. This year is Wozniak's 41st on the fairgrounds. "We've got kids working for us who are the kids of kids who once worked for us," he said. "Holy smokes, I'm getting old."
Judson Av. between Underwood St. and Nelson St., and Liggett St. between Carnes Av. and Dan Patch Av.