Minnesotans, start your appetites, because when the Minnesota State Fair opens in eight weeks, fairgoers will find themselves tempted by more than two dozen new — ahem — delicacies.

The world’s on-a-stick capital isn’t resting on its battered and deep-fried laurels, pledging butter-poached “Canadian lobster pieces,” sausage-egg-pancake sandwiches, gluten-free brats and a shrimp/cream-cheese concoction.

When it comes to face-lifts of fair favorites, expect to encounter cheese curds coated in a pretzel crumb batter, bacon-wrapped roast turkey legs and bison hot dogs.

Other innovations include pizza-fied Tater Tots, peanut butter-and-jelly French toast and an a.m. Juicy Lucy in the form of an English muffin topped with a cheese-stuffed sausage patty.

On the international front, look for Schnitzel Strips (breaded and fried pork tenderloin), Korean-style pork barbecue (slow-smoked pork with kimchi pickles), deep-fried pierogi, a “Caribbean-style” lobster roll and chilaquiles. Then there’s the blue cheese-stuffed corn fritters, which may be the first fair fare to ever invoke the word chimichurri, the Argentine herb sauce.

The Lake Wobegon-iest sounding entry comes from a partnership between Izzy’s Ice Cream and the venerable Hamline Church Dining Hall: scoops of potluck-inspired Jell-O Salad ice cream, a swirl of lime, cranberry and marshmallow in a sweet-cream base.

Other frozen treats include craft beer gelato and a caramel-Granny Smith apple ice cream (both will be produced on the Fairgrounds) along with locally produced JonnyPops, featuring a seasonal, only-at-the-fair flavor dubbed Snelling Strawberry Rhubarb.

Other promising entries include a twist on chicken and waffles, pasta with smoked walleye and sweet corn, scones stuffed with ham and three cheeses, and an Italian-inspired chocolate-almond “salami.”

Ever on trend, the fair is getting its first rooftop patio, courtesy of LuLu’s Public House, one of five new food vendors in the West End Market, the $15 million dining-crafts-amphitheater-transit hub remake of Heritage Square.

Other West End newcomers include Two Rivers Kettle Korn, West End Creamery (a reboot of Heritage Square’s Ice Cream Parlour) and the Blue Barn, a venture by the Blue Plate Restaurant Co., which operates eight Twin Cities restaurants, including the Highland Grill, Freehouse and 3 Squares.

The fair opens Aug. 21 and runs through Sept. 1.


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