The pandemic-driven cancellation of the 2020 Wisconsin State Fair left many of us disappointed, even though it was a decision made with fairgoers' health and safety in mind.
At first, it seems no Fair means no giant slide, no food on sticks, no live music, no quirky gadgets and no farm animals. And yet, optimists agree that these things are available, just not necessarily on the beloved Fair grounds this year.
In short, the loss of the Fair sucks, but we can still find the spirit of the Fair in many different places. It's like the old "Muhammad and the Mountain" phrase: if the Fair won't come to us, we have to scope out the Fair.
Here are 11 ways to do just that:
- For actual Wisconsin State Fair food, the Fair's drive-thru takes place this weekend thru Sunday. From cream puffs to cream-cheese-and-bacon-on-a-stick to cheese curds, many favorites are available at this ingenious event that provides literally and figuratively a taste of the Fair.
- For cream puffs, the State Fair has a "Curbside Cream Puff" option this year. Find out how to fill your car (and your belly) with cream puffs here. Also, many local grocery stores have cream puffs in their bakeries right now. They aren't, of course, the real deal, but they still might cure any creamy pastry cravings.
- For corn on the cob, go to Marta's Tamales, a food truck parked across the street from El Rey, 916 S. Cesar E. Chavez Dr. Marta makes some of the best Mexican corn (elote) in town, and if you've never tried corn on the cob doctored up this way (it's slathered in creamy, spicy goodness) – well, it's time.
- For a corn dog, check out Martino's, a family-run hot dog stand in West Allis. You'll definitely dig the price.
- For a Wisconsin Fair Burger, Georgie Porgies has you covered. The fair-themed burger features a jerk-seasoned Angus beef patty topped with cheddar cheese, deep fried cheese curds, bacon and a spicy cool ranch served on locally baked buns. Georgie Porgies also has a loaded cream puff sundae on the menu with mini creampuffs, strawberries and chocolate syrup atop vanilla custard.
- For funnel fries, a version of the famous Fair funnel cakes, head to Hefner's Frozen Custard in Cedarburg. These festive fries are available for a limited time only.
- For flavored milk, grab a few Prairie Farms single-serving flavored milks. Prairie Farms is the company that sponsors the Bucks Milk House at the Fair, and some of their funky milk flavors are available by the bottle.
- For a "giant" slide, take the kids to the new, three-story slide in the Harbor View Plaza – it's the largest one we found in the city – and it's next to a splash pad!
- For a fix of Fair music, enjoy this vintage OnMilwaukee interview "We Are The Mummies" and visit their Facebook page, which includes info about their involvement in the 2021 Summer Camp Music Festival. Keep tabs on other popular State Fair bands like reggae greats King Solomon here; head-banging The Metal Men here; cover-masters The Toys here; and Elvis tribute artist John Van Thiel here.
- For animal interaction, take a day trip to the wonderfully-unusual Concord General Store / Gas Station / Petting Zoo or Shalom Wildlife Zoo.
- For hot tubs, high-performance glue, gold chains, chip dip mixes, artificial hair pieces, caricature services and all things that slice and dice, go to the Wisconsin State Fair's One Stop Fair Shop.
Molly Snyder grew up on Milwaukee's East Side and today, she lives in the Walker's Point neighborhood with her partner and two sons.
As a full time senior writer, editorial manager and self-described experience junkie, Molly has written thousands of articles about Milwaukee (and a few about New Orleans, Detroit, Indianapolis, Boston and various vacation spots in Wisconsin) that range in subject from where to get the best cup of coffee to an in-depth profile on the survivors of the iconic Norman apartment building that burned down in the '90s.
She also once got a colonic just to report on it, but that's enough on that.
Always told she had a "radio voice," Molly found herself as a regular contributor on FM102, 97WMYX and 1130WISN with her childhood radio favorite, Gene Mueller.
Molly's poetry, essays and articles appeared in many publications including USA Today, The Writer, The Sun Magazine and more. She has a collection of poetry, "Topless," and is slowly writing a memoir.
In 2009, Molly won a Milwaukee Press Club Award. She served as the Narrator / writer-in-residence at the Pfister Hotel from 2013-2014. She is also a story slam-winning storyteller who has performed with The Moth, Ex Fabula and Risk!
When she's not writing, interviewing or mom-ing, Molly teaches tarot card classes, gardens, sits in bars drinking Miller products and dreams of being in a punk band again.