All's Fair (and Fried) at the Colorado State Fair | Westword

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All's Fair, and Fried, in Pueblo at the Colorado State Fair

It runs through Labor Day.
Mike Mangini
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I just took a trip to the Colorado State Fair. This is the 150th year for the fair, and it's been at the same location in Pueblo since right after the turn of the twentieth century. Rich with family history and traditions, the fair makes a perfect day trip stuffed with endless games, rides, vendors, music and livestock.
But I went for the food.

You smell it even before the entrance, and see it as soon as you walk in: smoked meats, foot-long corn dogs, buckets of cookies. The food vendors and stalls are lined up almost in a loop, making it easy to check out the options, and there are plenty of shaded picnic tables where you can stop to enjoy your purchases.
Mike Mantini
We started with the turkey leg, a fair favorite that was a little disappointing this year, and pricey at $18. It was tough to bite and dry, but massive. But our next choice atoned for that. The Fried Cheese on a Stick was crispy, filled with cheese and easy to hold. Maybe it was the Italian in me, but I was hoping for some stringy mozzarella. Alas, it was filled with liquid nacho cheese but still totally worth $7.

Corn in a cup “elote style” packed that great Mexican mix of lime, mayo, Tajin and butter, right in a cup. I’m always a sucker for corn, and this definitely satisfied: The mayo, the spice, the sweetness and all that butter made for some seriously delicious gourmet walking grub. At $8, this might have been the best thing I ate.
click to enlarge
Mike Mangini
The jalapeño poppers (two for $9) were scorching hot, in both spice and temperature. These aren't the deep-fried kind but roasted peppers wrapped in smokey bacon and filled with oozy cheese, served fresh off the grill. I love spicy food and I thought these rocked, but my pregnant girlfriend did not. Still, this was enough to inspire me to return for the Pueblo Chile and Frijoles Festival at the end of the month.

I always have a hard time choosing between candy and caramel apples. The candy version reminds me of childhood and boardwalk nights by the beach, but caramel apples are perfect in their simplicity. I'd just hit the candy maze (another fair staple) right before this stop, so with a belly full of hard candy, I went the caramel route ($6 per apple). The apple was so crisp and the caramel so creamy, I could have gone for two, one in each hand.
Mike Mangini
But then I wouldn't have had a hand free for that foot-long corn dog, the ultimate fair food and a deal at $12!

My final find was deep-fried cheesecake, a perfect mix of warm, fried dough and cold cheesecake, topped with whatever your heart desires, and a big dessert for only $8.

I was so full I couldn't even go for the Pass Key sausage sandwich. Fortunately, you can get those year-round at one of Pueblo's two Pass Key restaurants, owned by the Pagano family for over fifty years.

The Colorado State Fair continues from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. Sunday, September 4, and Monday, September 5, at 1001 Beulah Avenue Avenue in Pueblo; find out more here.
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