By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Aug 04, 2020 at 7:04 PM Photography: Lori Fredrich

Among the most beloved of Wisconsin traditions that have been lost to the COVID-19 pandemic is the Wisconsin State Fair, an annual celebration which – under normal circumstances – would be flinging open its gates on Thursday, Aug. 6

And yet, there are still ways to enjoy a modicum of the Fair, including the weekly Fair Food Drive-Thru which showcases a weekly menu of State Fair staples (like cream puffs, available this weekend).

But, that's not all. A variety of local restaurants are getting into the Wisconsin State Fair food game, including at least one that might surprise you. 

Celesta Restaurant
1978 N Farwell Ave., (414) 231-3030
On Saturday, Aug. 8, Celesta will offer a State Fair plate that features a housemade seitan corndog with ketchup and mustard; a cup of creamy State Fair corn with cojita cheese; and deep fried sandwich cream cookies ($14).

Neighborhood Draft
5921 W. Vliet St., (414) 885-2028
Neighborhood Draft is also rolling out a fun menu of deep-fried fair-style foods, which will be served Aug. 5-15. Options include:

  • Housemade funnel cake with blueberry maple syrup and powdered sugar ($6.50); 
  • Build-your own baked potatoes featuring toppings like butter, nacho cheese, chili, salsa and sour cream ($6); 
  • The Rupena’s Hungarian sandwich with a quarter pound of ground Hungarian pork and Rupena’s super secret sour cream ($5.50); 
  • Corn in a cup ($5); wings and waffles on a stick ($6.50); 
  • State Fair lemonade made with freshly squeezed lemons ($5 or $7-$10 with your choice of vodka).

1547 N. Jackson St., (414) 276-9608
"We LOVE State Fair," says a note on the Sanford website "It is THE festival we look forward to every year, and we know we are not alone… Although our fair food will not be an exact replica of the real deal we hope you’ll find our whimsical menu tasty and a bit of a silver lining to this devastating pandemic."

In celebration of the festival that cannot be, the folks at Sanford are taking a whimsical swing at recreating festival favorites. The State Fair Food with a Sanford Twist menu will be available Aug. 6-8 and Aug. 11-15.

First off, you'll want to check out the "Sanford Lemonade Stand" (weather permitting) which will feature quart-sized cups of Fair-style lemonade ($5) and giant housemade Sanford Silly Dilly Pickles ($3), treats you can enjoy while waiting for your curbside order of these delicious sounding treats: 

  • "Chocolate covered bacon" will take the form of cocoa dusted pork belly served alongside grilled escarole and roasted grapes with a grape-cocoa reduction. 
  • The infamous "Lion’s Club corn" will be reborn as roasted corn soup with brown butter and fresh chives. 
  • "Island Noodles" will feature grilled shrimp with soba noodles, marinated carrots and scallions and toasted sesame dressing. 
  • "Mille’s Italian Sausage" has been reborn as housemade elk sausage piled high with peppers, onions and tomato on a grilled bun.
  • The same goes for the "Pork Schoppe Sandwich," which will feature roasted pork loin with house BBQ, turmeric pickles and onions on a Pretzilla bun.
  • "Pierogi" wiill showcase sauerbraten ragu stuffed pierogi with marinated cabbage and horseradish mustard. 
  • The "WI Products Pavilion" will feature mixed greens with pickled Door County cherries, brandied dried cranberries, spiced walnnuuts, chevre, fresh kohlrabi and a honey toasted fennel vinaigrette. 
  • The Wisconsin Product Pavilion’s popular baked potatoes will also get a redux. They will be served up as salt-roasted mini Yukon potatoes with sauteed broccoli, marinated radishes, salmon roe and herbed sour cream.
  • And the ultimate Fair-goer food, the corndog will be entirely upgraded as the heritage pork mini corn dog with foie gras mustard. 

And that's not all. Desserts include:

  • "Cream Puff": Sanford profiteroles stuffed with crème fraîche whipped cream.
  • "Caramel Apple": An apple tart with caramel, toffee and  toasted pecans.
  • Smoked pork caramels

For more information and details on Sanford's State Fair menu, check out their website beginning at 10 a.m. on Aug. 6

Water Street Brewery
2615 Washington St., Grafton, (262) 375-2222
3191 Golf Rd., Delafield, (262) 646-7878
140 West Town Square Way, Oak Creek, (414) 301-5290
Aug. 6-16, Water Street Brewery locations will be serving up two of their popular Wisconsin State Fair offerings: 

  • The Wisconsin State Fair Sporkie-winning Italian Stallion: featuring beer-marinated, slow-roasted Italian beef, piled into an eggroll wrapper alongside housemade giardiniera and Wisconsin mozzarella and provolone cheeses, and then deep-fried (three pieces for $8.95)
  • The deep-fried old fashioned:  an achingly sweet dessert comprised of deep-fried orange pound cake that's both filled and topped with cherry- and brandy-flavored cream cheese and drizzled with orange bitters syrup.

Watch now as Pop Culture Editor Matt Mueller and I taste-test the Italian Stallion... just to make sure it's just as good as it was last year at the State Fair.

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.