FAIR FAVORITES: New Foods & Feeding Needy

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All the fun and tradition of the Iowa State Fair is just a little more than a month away. Happiness awaits in the form of music, competition and of course food.  And, you can help feed others at a fair known for its food.

Corn dogs, pork tenderloins, fair squares and butter on a stick. Leslie Soukup says, "There are so many things offered at fair. And, it's difficult to think of new things."

But, eight food vendors, including Leslie, took the challenge, competing for the best new fair food. She says, "I think the Shrimp Corn Dog is probably going to take the hit for the stand this year."

You'll find the Shrimp Corn Dog at the Po Boy stand near the craft beer tent. The fresh jumbo shrimp dipped in a corn meal batter served with a sweet jalapeno glaze won bragging rights for best new food on-a-stick.

Gary Slater with the Iowa State Fair says, "Every year, everybody is looking for new foods. And, so we had a distinguished panel of judges evaluate eight new foods submitted by our concessionaires."

Other top contenders include a healthy Strawberry Smoothie On-a-stick and a not so healthy Bacon Wrapped Riblet On-a-Stick. Slater says, "We have quite a number of new foods at the fair, and many times people want to come to the Iowa State Fair just for the food."

Organizers always try to plan something new for opening day. And, this year, fair goers will be able to give back and feed the hungry. Slater says, "This year we are working with fairs across the United States to try to provide 20 million pounds of food for the needy.”

The Iowa State Fair partnered with Meals from the Heartland. You can sign up on the fair's website to pack meals on the south side of the Varied Industries Building. The goal is to have 1,500 people work one hour shifts on opening day. Slater says, “And, I think that will be a huge feat, if we can pack 250,000 meals in one day.”

It will also be a huge feat for the food vendors, as they get ready to feed fair goers their favorite foods on-a-stick. Soukup hopes you’ll find a new favorite. She says, "I hope I have people come by and try to Shrimp Corn Dog."

The 2013 fair runs August 8th through the 18th. You'll also find several new features on the grounds this year. The Cultural Center is getting a two year upgrade. Part of the center now has elevators and air conditioning to cool off. And, if you drive by the fairgrounds, you'll notice new electronic billboards showcasing Grandstand entertainment and events.