When the fair rolls into town, it's not about the rides. It's not about the pig races or the cheerleading competition. For me, it's all about the food.
And why not?
The fair is an excuse to binge eat an entire spool of cotton candy and not feel bad about it. To take down an Amish donut the size of a hub cap without hesitation. Eat those chili cheese fries, girl. The Manatee County Fair only comes once each year.
My guy and I -- a couple of foodies already -- went to the fair's opening night. We stayed away from old-time favorites like corn dogs and pizza. We could have that on any Thursday. If we were going to carb out, we were going to make each one count.
Here are the three best dishes at the Manatee County Fair. Get 'em while they're hot! The fair ends Sunday.
1) The Sirloin Tip Dinner at the Pickle Barrel
Juicy steak medallions, sauteed onions and marinated baby bella mushrooms are piled onto a chubby pillow of red mashed potatoes. Stick two forks in it. You'll need the help.
2) The Deep-Fried Pop Tart
We've all had a deep-fried Oreo, deep-fried Twinkie, probably even the deep-fried butter. But the deep-fried strawberry Pop Tart is something special. Each one -- made-to-order -- is warm and toasty, kind of like a Toaster Strudel. Make sure you ask for the extra squirt of chocolate sauce.
3) Dad's Kettle Korn
Trust me on this. Kris Omelia's kettle korn is not your average korn. Each salty kernel is slicked with a sweet glaze -- a lovely marriage of salty and sweet. Down it with an ice-cold extra sweet tea from the Pickle Barrel.
What was your favorite dish at the Manatee County Fair?
Tweet us your fair food pics @bradentonherald.
-- Sabrina Rocco, email@example.com
Photos by Tiffany Topkins-Condie