Indiana State Fair 2011 Photos, Part 1 of 4: The Year in Food

Ice Cream Burger!

Join us in a bit of nostalgia for the good ol’ days of eating out and mingling in crowds with impunity, won’t you?

You, the Viewers at Home, don’t need me to tell you 2020 is The Worst. And the hits just keep on coming, great and small. While more important people address the great, someone ought to tend to the small. Might as well be me, the Most Irrelevant Man in the World.

As if our dwindling downtime to-do list for 2020 weren’t already small enough to fit on a Post-It, Anne and I are still reeling from Thursday afternoon’s announcement that the 2020 Indiana State Fair has been canceled after too many vendors kept backing out, painfully aware that crowds and super-powered viruses remain a volatile mix. Recounts of our State Fair experiences have been among MCC’s annual traditions ever since I launched the site in April 2012. It isn’t the first tradition thrown off-track this year, and it may not be the last.

But it’s not as though our lives began in April 2012. We have quite a few stories not yet shared here from pre-MCC days. We may not be able to make new State Fair memories this year, but we can wallow in the older ones we haven’t revisited in a while.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

The Indiana State Fair is an annual celebration of Hoosier pride, farming, food, and 4-H, with amusement park rides, cooking demos, concerts by musicians either nearly or formerly popular, and farm animals competing for cash prizes without their knowledge. My wife Anne and I attend each year as a date-day to seek new forms of creativity and imagination within a local context. Usually we’re all about the food. Each year a new lineup of “Taste of the Fair” offerings showcases new ideas from assorted food vendors in hopes of luring in foodies and/or impressing attendees who want to do more every year than simply eating the same tenderloin again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Though the “Taste of the Fair” concept wasn’t a thing back in 2011, there was no shortage of new and different dishes to sample each year. Take our lead photo, for example: to the untrained eye I’m holding a simple burger, though it’s topped with an extra breaded object. That’s the key to its identity — the so-called Ice Cream Burger. It was a bacon cheeseburger with a tiny beef patty, topped with an ice cream patty not much bigger, encased in a thin fried-ice-cream shell. It melted so quickly that it basically tasted like a cold, weird kind of mayo. It wouldn’t be the weirdest or fattiest burger I ever tried at the fair.

Burger Stand!

The purveyors of that ice cream burger and other thousand-calorie beef indulgences.

Other culinary highlights from that year, all of them arguably healthier than the Ice Cream Burger:

Deep-Fried Klondike Bar!

What would you do for a deep-fried Klondike Bar?

Regrettably, the deep-fried Klondike Bar’s ice cream filling melted within seconds, leaving nothing to keep the stick braced in the center. As the stick slid all the way to one side of the bar and their cheap plastic fork strained to penetrate the breading, leaky goop slopped all over the place. Any pie-eating contestant who loves smearing themselves with food would have loved this.

Buffalo Brat!

A buffalo brat used to be a novel concept. The bison stand on the northeast corner of the fairgrounds is now one of my favorite stops every year.

Beignets!

Before 2011 I had never heard of beignets. Four years later we had the pleasure of trying the real thing down in New Orleans.

Turkey Hill Cow!

This isn’t edible, but the giant cow mascot represents for Turkey Hill Ice Cream, a Pennsylvania company that loves coming to town for the occasion and handing out free samples around the southeast corner of the fairgrounds.

Not all the food at the State Fair is meant to be eaten. Some offerings are display items only. Some are too big for any one man or family to swallow. Some are, quite simply, Art.

Cheese Sculpture 80th!

Another grand tradition: the annual cheese sculpture. This one celebrated “80 Years of Nutrition”. The context of that bizarre claim is lost in the mists of time.

1160-pound pumpkin!

An award-winning pumpkin weighing 1,160 pounds (526.2 kg). Somewhere out there is a maverick dying to fit this onto a burger.

Pumpkin Art!

More art-food carvings. Pumpkins, squash and other gourds are a satisfying medium to the right artists.

Pumpkin Carving!

Adding color seems like cheating, but seeing as how it celebrates the Indiana State Fair, which we’re missing right now, I’ll allow it.

To be continued! Other chapters in this MCC nostalgia-laden miniseries:

Part 2: The Year in Lego and Canned Food Art
Part 3: The Year in Tragedy
Part 4: The Year in Soybeans and So On

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