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There’s no limit to how many foods you can put “on a stick”

It’s almost that time of the year again.

I’m not talking about harvest season (already well underway) or the holiday season (still technically not here yet if you look at the calendar and not anything else). What I’m talking about this week is the North Carolina State Fair. Yes, it’s almost time to drool and/or cringe over the newest strange and wonderful foods offered at the annual event held in Raleigh each year.

The pandemic put a hold on things last year, but organizers are determined to host it again this year, beginning Oct. 14 through Oct. 24. The event will have plenty of new things to enjoy and a couple of new policies to adhere to (including a clear bag policy and a strong encouragement to get vaccinated and mask up). But what always fascinates me the most is the ridiculous array of foods offered.

Even though I usually don’t get the chance to attend the state fair myself, I always enjoy reading through the list of the craziest foods attendees will be able to snack on. Some are mouthwatering, while others flare up my indigestion just reading the description.

Here are just a few of this year’s offerings. It’s up to you to decide whether or not they’re actually tasty!

Sometimes a name just catches your eye before the food does. Chef’s D’Lites will offer “Atomic Tots” this year, and just from reading the description, I can guess that they’ll cause some sort of nuclear reaction with your digestive system. Brave souls wanting to try these spicy tater tots will also get to enjoy the toppings which include spicy cheese sauce, sweet heat shredded chicken, pepper bacon, spicy ranch, sour cream, and a crispy fried hot pepper. All I can say is “ouch!”

Every now and then there’s an item on this list that I’ve just never heard of before, and that piques my curiosity. The food vendor Douglas Farm will have “Esquites” which, according to the description, is “Mexican street corn (in a cup).” The photo on the fair’s website makes it look like corn with a bunch of different seasonings on top. (And a good old Google search says the food includes mayonnaise, cilantro, different kinds of cheeses, and more). The description is short and sweet, so I’m assuming the food will be the same. Anyway, who doesn’t enjoy a little mystery in their fair food?

New vendor Waffle Chix will serve what is essentially a waffle on a stick. But not like a Leggo waffle, according to the photo on the website. Their waffles look a little like corndogs but with different fillings inside. One is a breakfast sausage coated in waffle batter and cooked in a waffle iron. And the other is better suited for people with a sweet tooth: that one has a double chocolate brownie inside.

Speaking of food on a stick (an essential staple for any kind of fair), Ezzell’s Somethin’ Good will have “Shrimp & Grits on a Stick.” Forgive me for being skeptical, but this just seems like it’s going to be very, very messy. Sure, I can easily imagine shrimp kabobs being a nice treat to snack on while you’re browsing through all the fair has to offer. But I can’t imagine how adding grits to the mix doesn’t end up with food bits dripping onto your shoes. But the shrimp and grits will also be topped with Cajun cream sauce, bacon crumbles, and scallions, so it probably tastes good at least! If you don’t miss your mouth.

Actually, I was surprised at the number of new foods this year featuring seafood. Oak City Fish and Chips will have “Lobster Pop” new this year. It is – surprise, surprise – basically just fried, seasoned lobster on a stick. But it’s a secret blend of spices to keep things exciting!

The new Lobster Dogs vendor will stick a variety of seafood into a hotdog bun, including lobster, crab, and shrimp. You can also get stuffed avocados to go with it too, just to look extra fancy I guess.

Waypoint Oyster Bar’s new dish is the “Shrimp Mac and Cheese Eggroll” which seems like a weird thing to stick in an eggroll if I’m being honest. But I’m not a chef, so what do I know? I’m a big fan of the idea of easily portable mac and cheese though, so honestly, I might would try this one.

I have, of course, saved the best (read: most ridiculous) for last. Hickory Tree Turkey BBQ’s newest creation is the “Shrimp Alfredo Stuffed Turkey Leg.” Yes, you read that right even though none of those words really belong together in the same sentence. It’s a giant turkey leg stuffed with shrimp alfredo. If you had asked me to make up a weird food mashup to serve at the state fair, never in my wildest dreams would I have come up with this one. It’s crazy enough that I’m almost curious enough to try it. Just so I could tell people that I ate “shrimp alfredo stuffed turkey leg” and see the faces they’d make after hearing that.

If you get a chance to head to the state fair this year, check out all the strange and exciting foods they have to offer. But if not, there are plenty of other fairs (some closer to home) to enjoy as well. They may not offer all these interesting combinations, but they definitely have a few exciting things as well.

And if all else fails, you can just experiment at home if you’re adventurous enough! Maybe one day your creation will even earn you a spot at the NC State Fair.

Holly Taylor is a Staff Writer at Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact her at holly.taylor@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7206.