By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Jun 14, 2023 at 12:32 PM

It’s been 10 years since the launch of The Sporkies, a food competition featuring some of the most outrageous and delicious foods served at the Wisconsin State Fair. To celebrate the milestone, the State Fair team has added a brand new complementary drink competition to the docket.

The Drinkies, a new beverage competition that will showcase the best – and most unique – zero-proof beverages will take place for the first time in 2023. 

For the 2023 competitions, eight finalists have been chosen from a pool of 31 entries to compete for The Golden Spork Award, while four drinkies finalists, chosen from 11 entries, will go head to head in The Drinkies competition.

Without further ado, here are the finalists in both categories!

The Drinkies finalists

The Brown Sugar Sweet Potato Iced Latte
(available at Mashed Potatoes On-a-Stick)

Brown sugar sweet potato latteX

Cool off with an iced latte flavored with brown sugar, sweet potato purée, a dash of cinnamon, and brown sugar boba pearls. The drink is garnished with a toasted marshmallow and a deep-fried sweet potato funnel cake nugget.

Cotton Candy Lemonade
Saz’s Miller High Life Pavilion

Cotton candy lemonadeX

The Cotton Candy Lemonade is a delicious blend of cool lemonade with a sweet taste of blue cotton candy. The drink is garnished with a cloud of cotton candy on top.

The Ferris Mule
Old Fashioned Sipper Club

The Ferris MuleX

The Ferris Mule is a non-alcoholic mule crafted with fresh blackberries, ginger beer, freshly squeezed lime juice and agave nectar. The drink is hand shaken, poured over ice and garnished with fresh blackberries, a rosemary sprig and a lime wheel.

Mango Tango Tajín
Caribbean Smoothees

Mango tango tajinX

The Mango Tango Tajín features two layers: a combination of juicy mangoes and tangy pineapple on the bottom and a creamy sstarwberry smoothie on top. The drink is topped off with a drizzle of sweet, spicy chamoy sauce and a sprinkle of tajin. 

The Sporkies finalists

Beer Cheese Wisconsin Lava Cake 

Beer cheese lava cakeX

A savory take on a sweet classic, the Beer Cheese Wisconsin Lava Cake features salted Milwaukee Pretzel Company slider buns filled with beer cheese soup, topped with butter, pretzel salt and a drizzle of housemade hot honey and a sprinkling of red pepper flakes.

Coastal Corn Nuggets

Coastal corn nuggetsX

Deep-fried dough balls filled with corn, smothered with creamy white queso and topped with housemade tropical slaw and tangy pineapple-mango salsa. The Coastal Corn Nuggets are topped off with a dusting of cojita cheese. 

Deep-Fried Apple Pie
Saz’s BBQ 

Deep fried apple pieX

This take on the classic pudgy pie features housemade apple pie filling is sandwiched between two slices of white bread dipped in sweet French toast batter and deep-fried. The pie is topped with caramel drizzle and cinnamon sugar.

Dill Pickle Donut 
Fluffy’s Hand Cut Donuts

Dill pickle donutX

Dive into a hand-cut yeast-raised donut "frosted" with dill pickle juice whipped cream cheese and topped with thick-cut dill pickles and dill sprinkle.

Irish Dipper 
Slim McGinn’s Irish Pub

Irish dipperX

This flavor-bomb of a sandwich features Irish Onion Dip made with cream cheese, Guinness beer, caramelized onions, and Irish cheddar is layered with Irish beef in Guinness gravy on a French roll. It’s served with a cup of Guinness gravy for dipping.

The Porkie 
Camp Bar

The PorkieX

The Porkie sundae features vanilla custard layered with cheesecake bites and hot fudge. It’s topped with graham cracker crust, more hot fudge, warm caramel, a graham cracker cookie, and cherry. A piece of Rupena’s candied bacon, dipped in chocolate and rolled in sprinkles finishes things off.

Sweet and Savory Funnel Cake “Fries”
Bud Pavilion

Funnel Cake friesX

Crispy golden funnel cake “fries” are topped with savory cheese curds and crispy bacon pieces, then drizzled with rich chocolate sauce and a sweet cream cheese frosting glaze. 

Wisconsin Quesadilla 
Mexican Grill

Wisconsin quesadillaX

This quesadilla is stuffed full of cheese curds, chunks of brats, grilled onions and peppers and shredded cheese. It’s griddled to a perfect golden brown and served with sour cream and salsa on the side.


Winners for both competitions will be chosen by a panel of judges on Tuesday, Aug. 1, with both dishes and drinks judged on the basis of appearance, presentation, creativity, originality and taste.

Dario Melendez will emcee the panel of judges, which includes Chef Adam Pawlak of Egg & Flour and Food Network’s “Superchef Grudge Match”; Chef Ashley Turner of Hacienda Taproom & Kitchen and Food Network’s “Chopped”; Judy H. of MKEeeeeats, a Milwaukee-based culinary content creator; Melanie Ricks, radio personality and Milwaukee Bucks in-game host; Ryan Castelaz, co-owner of Discourse Coffee and The Counter Day Bar; Sandra Dempsey of Source Ten and Estamos Unidos US; and Steve Novak, sportscaster, former NBA player and Marquette University alumnus.

All Sporkies and Drinkies items will be available for purchase during the Wisconsin State Fair. Entries will be easily identified on massive 13-food Spork and Drinkies statues displayed at each finalist’s vendor location. Meanwhile, all entrants will display stickers at their individual locations. 
Visit the State Fair website for a full list of Sporkies and Drinkies entries.

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.