It's almost time to enjoy the sugar-high-inducing, artery-clogging delights of the Wisconsin State Fair.
Among the tantalizing treats this year are the eight finalists chosen for the fair's fifth annual food competition, The Sporkies, a competition which challenges fair vendors to create the most ingenious concoctions possible.
These creative creations bested 31 entries for the 2017 awards, which will be judged by a panel of local celebrity judges (with help from fairgoers) at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 9 at the Bank Mutual Amphitheater.
- Budweiser Pavilion Grill Triple Treat (Budweiser Pavilion Grill): includes three savory sliders – one Smoked Jalapeno, Bacon and Cheddar Brat Slider; one Budweiser BBQ Pulled Pork Slider; and one Bourbon Bacon Cheeseburger Slider – stacked and skewered.
- Buffalo Mac & Cheese Quesadilla (Mexican Grill): featuring a quesadilla grilled to golden brown and stuffed with shredded buffalo chicken, queso mac and cheese, bacon and crushed Doritos. Served with jalapenos and a side of blue cream cheese.
- Chocomela Nachos (La Coppa Artisan Gelato): features homemade cinnamon sugar tortilla chips begging to be dipped in salted caramel and milk chocolate gelato classics. The nachos are topped with whipped cream, sweet chocolate coating and a salty peanut sauce with peanut pieces.
- Deep-Fried Grilled Cheese Bites (Tropics at the Fair): tender morsels of grilled cheese bites deep fried to perfection and served with a creamy tomato dipping sauce.
- Great Balls of Fire Sandwich (Rupena’s): this sandwich is loaded with spicy hungarian sausage, garlic sour cream sauce, stuffing balls, pulled pork and creamy coleslaw.
- Monkey Business (Saz’s Barbeque): a dessert burrito stuffed with house-made bacon jam and creamy peanut butter, then deep fried, drizzled with Wisconsin honey, and finished with a sprinkle of chipotle cinnamon sugar.
- Spaghetti & Meatballs Mozzarella Sticks (Albanese’s Roadhouse): includes Albanese’s famous spaghetti and meatballs wrapped in a wonton with mozzarella and fried to golden goodness. Served with Albanese’s famous red sauce.
- Three Little Pigs Ravioli (Brew City Pizza): These noodle-less, handmade bacon ravioli are stuffed with three different styles of pork including bourbon bacon jam, house smoked pulled pork shoulder and pancetta. The pork is also accompanied by cream cheese, Wisconsin smoked gouda, scallions, onion and brown sugar. The whole shebang is erved with homemade cherry bourbon bacon BBQ jam.
During the judging event, The Sporkies judges will taste, deliberate and eventually choose the first, second and third place winners of Golden Spork trophies. This year’s judges include Super Bowl champion LeRoy Butler, OnMilwaukee senior food and dining writer Lori Fredrich, Milwaukee radio veteran Steve Palec and Fox 6 anchor and reporter Nicole Koglin. The event will be moderated by Emmy-nominated "Wisconsin Foodie" host Kyle Cherek.
You could be a judge
One lucky fairgoer will also have the opportunity to join the celebrity panel to taste-test the final creations as a guest judge. Interested foodies will be able to enter the contest starting Tuesday, July 11 at 9 a.m. via Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #SporkiesJudge2017. Entries must be completed by Friday, July 28 at 9 p.m. Instructions on how to enter are detailed at wistatefair.com.
All State Fair guests can also participate in the judging by sampling all of The Sporkies entries between Aug. 3-8 and voting for their favorites. The entry with the most votes will be awarded a fourth Golden Spork Trophy: Fairgoers’ Fave. Voting will take place on Facebook via a voting app, and on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #FairgoersFave, or at the Guest Services Pavilion, located on Central Avenue near Central Park and the Exposition Center.
For a complete list of Sporkies entries, visit wistatefair.com.
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.