It has become an annual tradition for The Astronomer and me to spend a glorious summer day at the L.A. County Fair. In addition to indulging in carnival cuisine, we love taking part in hillbilly fun and soaking in Pomona’s intense rays.
We had a hell of a time last year sampling deep-fried Oreos and chicken sandwiches made with jelly-filled Krispy Kremes. Not to mention, admiring homemade cakes paying homage to Vincent Van Gough and whooping it up at the pig races. This year, we vowed to outdo ourselves in all manner of food and fun.
The Astronomer and I arrived on opening day primed and ready to stuff our gullets. As “The Official Fair Foodie,” it was my duty to explore the edible terrain and leave no vendor unturned.
Our first stop was at Terri’s Berries, one of a handful of spots at the Fairplex serving legitimately healthy stuff.
The Astronomer and I shared a paper boat filled with fresh fresh fruit ($7), as well as a large and fuzzy peach ($1). These would be the only unadulterated nutrients that we would feed our bodies all day.
Since it was still quite early, we decided to ease our way toward all things deep-fried, on-a-stick, and deep-fried-on-a-stick. From Terri’s Berri’s, we walked across the grounds in search of grilled corn on the cob.
We found what we were looking for at Chuckwagon BBQ. Their saucy pork ribs were one of the highlights of last year’s feast, so we had high hopes for our cob.
The corn ($4) was served fresh from the fire and slathered in butter at our request. After consulting with a veteran grilled corn goer, I went to town with the condiments on hand. First, I laid down a creamy mayonnaise base, then I gave it a few squirts of lime juice. Generous sprinklings of cayenne pepper and crumbly Parmesan cheese provided the finishing touches. Our cob totally had it going on—sweet, rich, salty, and spicy.
Next, we moseyed over to the Indian Fry Bread vendor. Fry bread, which is a flat dough fried in oil, is a staple in Native American cuisine.
Here, fry bread is served both simply and decadently. While The Astronomer was hoping for an unadorned one with cinnamon and sugar or honey, I was in the mood for something a little heftier.
We ordered the “Indian Taco” ($9), which was comprised of warm fry bread topped with beans, chili, lettuce, cheese, and salsa. The toppings never really came together for us, but the light and fluffy base was something special. Next time, I’m listening to my dear Astronomer and ordering a sweet one. The fry bread shines much brighter in that situation.
As luck would have it, the Timberworks Lumberjack Show was in progress as we approached “Wilderness Ridge.” We caught the second half of the performance, which included chainsaw carving, a vertical race up faux tree trunks, and log rolling. It was a crowd-pleasing performance, in that cheesy, down home kind of way.
Who doesn’t love lumberjacks?
Following the lumberjack show, The Astronomer and I settled in to watch a performance by Lucy and Tootsie, two European brown bears. It was entertaining for about ten minutes, but it quickly grew tiresome watching the poor bears being forced to do silly tricks. Wah wah.
To recover from the disappointing show, we picked up a bag of freshly popped kettle corn ($3.50).
Nothing turns my frown upside down like salty, sweet, and caramelized popcorn.
One of my favorite points of interest is the grand exhibition hall, where Angelenos battle it out in a variety of contests. From baking to Christmas tree decorating to felting, every niche hobby has a forum to compete in at the Fair.
The fiercest competition seemed to be tablescapeing. This “Poodle Cafe” creation scored a perfect 100 points and captured the grand prize ribbon.
In the felting contest, this miniature and fuzzy model of The Beatles earned a second place ribbon.
The photography exhibition featured images of people and places, both in color and in black and white. The Astronomer keenly observed that a blue ribbon is all but guaranteed if the subject is a member of a southeast Asian minority tribe.
After resting our bellies and exercising our minds, it was time to eat once more. This time, we headed to Chicken Charlie’s booth to try his latest creation—deep-fried Kool-Aid ($7).
The golden and pink balls were served hot out of the fryer and dusted in powdered sugar. While I enjoyed the deep-fried Kool-Aid for what it was, The Astronomer greatly disliked the artificial cherry flavoring. This one’s worth a taste more for shock value than deliciousness.
Switching back to savory, we headed to the Thai BBQ stand, where we passed on the noodles and Thai ice tea with boba and zeroed in on the meats on a stick. The skewers of Thai chicken teriyaki ($6) were beautifully lacquered, moist, and sweet. These were the surprise hit of the day.
Before departing for home, The Astronomer and I each had room in our stomachs for one more treat. For my final poison, I headed to Juicy’s for a larger than life corn dog. I saw a small child chomping on one of these earlier in the day, and I could not resist doing the same.
The “Kowabunga” corn dog ($10) measured over a foot in length and just over an inch in width. It was so heavy that our wrists ached from carrying it around.
I’m pleased to report that the corn dog tasted as impressive as it looked. The batter was well-seasoned and browned, while the hot dog was meaty and substantial. A little ketchup was all that was needed to highlight the corn dog from every angle. This was my favorite savory dish of the day.
For The Astronomer’s final bite, he headed to Big Bubba’s bad B.B.Q. for his first-ever humongous turkey leg ($10).
Grilled over charcoal and an open flame, the turkey leg was crisp and caramelized on the outside with moist and flavorful meat within. The Astronomer ate as much as he could, but ended up taking a good part of the leg home—it was so gigantic.
The L.A. County Fair is in town until October 2. Check out the complete set of photos via Flickr.
L.A. County Fair
1101 W. McKinley Avenue
Pomona, CA 91768