Octopus taco, gator bites among Delaware State Fair food finds

By Rachel Sawicki
Posted 7/27/21

HARRINGTON — Corn dogs, funnel cakes, French fries and lemonade are some of the most popular and common fair foods. But the Delaware State Fair has much more to offer. Several strange vendors, …

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Octopus taco, gator bites among Delaware State Fair food finds

Posted

HARRINGTON — Corn dogs, funnel cakes, French fries and lemonade are some of the most popular and common fair foods. But the Delaware State Fair has much more to offer. Several strange vendors, some new and some old favorites, have set up shop at the fairgrounds this year.

Shay Mitchell and her daughter Kayden Manuelita are running their homemade juice stand, Puffy’s, for the first time at the fair. Originally from New Mexico, they started their business in Baltimore. The Delaware State Fair is their first East Coast event.

Their drinks aren’t just any old juice, however. Flavors like mango, pineapple, watermelon and horchata include fresh fruit with zesty chili rims and chili straws.

“There is definitely a lot of love put into our foods and drinks,” Ms. Mitchell said. “Especially since our families back home shared a lot of these events with us, and we’re so family oriented.”

Another new food stand is run by a not-so-new fair vendor.

Samantha Fairlie, known as the “Pretzel Lady,” set aside Der Pretzel Haus this year to start up The Knotty Pig. Originally from Dover, Ms. Fairlie now lives in St. Augustine, Florida, but stops at the Delaware State Fair every year on her East Coast fair tour.

“I’m still the ‘Pretzel Lady’ but we decided to try some new things since everything went awry in 2020,” Ms. Fairlie said. “We thought about what foods haven’t been fried yet here, and we came up with bacon, which comes as a topping on a lot of things here but hasn’t been served fried on a stick.”

Ashley Ruff from Townsend brought her two sons, Logan, 3, and Aiden, 1, back to the fair for a second time and stopped to try The Knotty Pig’s fried bacon with maple syrup and powdered sugar on top.

“I come here every year and haven’t had fried bacon before,” Ms. Ruff said. “It’s very different and unique.”

The Knotty Pig also deep-fries Jimmy Dean sausage and serves pink lemonade and slushies with a curly pink straw.

Anthony Jacona owns the Seahog Food Truck from Zogg’s Raw Bar and Grill in Rehoboth Beach. This is his fourth year at the fair frying up octopus tacos (octo-tacos) and frog legs.

“We started just by loving to eat and trying all different kinds of food,” Mr. Jacona said. “With a body of water near us, we figured anything weird out of the water, we’re going to cook it and eat it.”

Mike Tkacs is serving up cheese and gravy fries using a secret Canadian family recipe at his truck, Poutine.

“They do gravy fries down here [in Delaware] but the cheese curds are hard to come by,” Mr. Tkacs said. “The recipe uses unpasteurized cheese curds, which you can’t get in the United States. So I use pasteurized curds for these fries.”

Issac Plump, 13, from Milford, added bacon to his order of gravy fries.

“This is one of the best places I’ve been at the fair,” he said.

Chester’s is an old favorite, run by Cameron Murray from North Carolina. He brings his team on a summer-long fair tour along the East Coast and has been coming to the Delaware State Fair since he started the business nine years ago.

This year, he added a neighbor stand that serves various fried foods like pickles and jalepeños with beer cheese and bacon. The original stand serves classic fair foods like ribbon fries and corn dogs, but the key unusual menu item is alligator.

“The most common question we get asked is, ‘Is it real?’” Murray said. “And it is. We use gator tail meat, the best part of the gator, it’s like a tenderloin white meat. Our grilled version has a homemade marinade sauce on it. Our fried version has spices in the batter, and you can get gator mac and cheese, too.”

Darshawn and Deshauna Smith are from Berlin, Maryland, and came to the Delaware State Fair this year to explore the food court. They wound up at Chester’s and ordered fried gator bites.

“We wanted to try something different, and the gator is really good,” Mrs. Smith said.

“We hear a lot of people talk about all the foods they have here so we came just for this.”