All the Over-the-Top Eats to Try at the Dutchess County Fair
Grilled cheese, crazy fries, and loaded corn on the cob are all fair game at the Rhinebeck fair's annual SporkRun competition.
Left to right: Andy Imperati, President and CEO of Dutchess County Agricultural Society, Inc.; Jolene Region, server at Wings & Things; Chris Marino, DJ with Q92
The Dutchess County Fair is full of fun, livestock, midway rides, and a few surprises (a calf was born on Tuesday, just 37 minutes after the fair opened its doors!) But for some fairgoers, it’s all about the food. With upwards of 75 food and drink stands from which to choose, deciding what to buy can be overwhelming.
For this year’s SporkRun competition, the fair let the judges “De-Side”! Seventeen side dishes went head to head (or spork to spork?), with seven Spudges tasked with tasting each dish and choosing a winner.
Armed with a clipboard and a spork, and rocking my golden, bejeweled plastic crown, I heeded the advice of past Spudges and took merely a bite from each dish. Plate by plate, I picked my way down the line of tables, avoiding eye contact with the eager vendors who stood by their creations (Although I did accept a fruit-filled lemonade from the Grecian Delights people. It wasn’t a bribe, I promise – it was just so darn hot out!). Contestants were judged on presentation, taste, and uniqueness in ingredients and name.
Choosing a winner wasn’t easy. Loaded fries, chicken grilled cheese, and buffalo chicken mac & cheese in a bread cone made it more than a little difficult to “de-side.”
J&S Concessions’ Wings & Things came out on top: Their Chicken Bacon Ranch Tots combined everything to love about food, with popcorn chicken and tater tots piled in an easy-to-carry bowl, sprinkled with bacon and cheese and drizzled with ranch dressing. It was so simple, yet so good.
DJ Chris Marino, looking regal as he sported his crown in his third year as SpudgeMeister, took photos with Wings & Things server Jolene Region, then dug into the winning dish after the winner was announced. “This is the best job at the fair!” he enthused.
Fairgoers themselves have a chance to vote in the People’s Choice SporkRun via the Dutchess County Fair smartphone app. The fair itself runs until Sunday, August 25, with fun events planned every day (don’t miss the water-jumping dock dogs!)
Butcher Boys - Greek Cowboy: Sliced London broil on a toasted pita with feta, tzatziki, lettuce, tomato, grilled onion, and BBQ sauce
Frankie's - Frankie's Fire Fries: Fresh-cut fries topped with aged cheddar cheese, sriracha mayo, bacon, and jalapeño peppers
J&S - Roasted Eggplant Fries: Roasted eggplant fries with chipotle mayo or tzatziki dipping sauce
Griffs Catering - Griff's loaded onion: Griff’s onion stuffed with crispy golden sweet potato ribbon fries and topped with melted cheddar cheese, crumbled bacon, chives and sour cream
Grecian Delight - Grecian Sample Platter: Gyro slices, grilled chicken, pork kebab, veggie rice, grilled veggies, and Greek salad
J&S Fairgrounds Café - Buffalo Mac Cheese Cone: Homemade mac & cheese with the famous buffalo chicken recipe, served in a sweet bread cone
J&S Wings & Things - Chicken Bacon Ranch Tots: Popcorn chicken, tater tots, bacon cits, cheddar cheese, and ranch dressing
Janek's Polish Foods - Smoky Mountain BBQ Baked Beans: Baked beans with smoked sausage
K&D Deli - Three’s Company Monster Grilled Cheese: Crispy BBQ chicken, bacon, cheddar cheese, and ranch dressing
KB Foods - Buffalo Blue Fries: Fresh cut fries topped with buffalo sauce and blue cheese crumbles
Lemon Grass Grill - Cubanito: A mini take on the famous Cuban sandwich
Old Style Foods - Sweetened Chipotle Garlic Butter Corn on the Cob: Fresh, flavorful corn on the cob
Pig Park BBQ - The Bomb: Nacho chips covered with melted cheese, homemade beans, BBQ sauce, pulled pork brisket, and coleslaw. For the adventurous, add jalapeño peppers.
Roscoe's Barbecue - Mac & Cheese with Maple Candied Pork Belly: Mac & cheese made with provolone, gouda, and cheddar cheese, topped with candied pork belly
Sherrie's Crab Cakes - Crab Mac n Cheese: Flavorful lump crab meat blended with creamy white cheddar pasta, finished with signature spices.
Sugar Shakers - Mediterranean Tomato Salad: Tomatoes, cucumbers, feta, and basil ribbons
Timi’s Greek & Middle Eastern – Timi’s Black Bean Hummus: Black bean dip with a fun kick of spices