Wednesday 07 Dec 2016

What on a Stick?
Jennifer Flaten

The sun is shining, the temperature is rising, on its way to a blistering 92 degrees and the humidity is sitting at about 80%. So are we inside enjoying air-conditioned comfort?

Nope.

We are walking around the State fair. I know, I know, each year I tell myself never again. Each year, I leave exhausted, hot and sick of humanity grumbling that it is too expensive, too noisy and totally pointless.

Then the next year's fair rolls around and I say, "hey kids lets go see the animals at the fair".

That is how we find ourselves fighting our way through throngs of people like salmon swimming upstream. We have already hit all the important things, those being the animal barns and the racing pigs.

Really, what else is there to see at the fair, okay I would love to spend some time in the amusement ride section, but since it would cost the equivalent of a mortgage payment for all five of us to ride one ride, I just gaze longingly at the Tilt a Whirl, Ferris wheel and Gravitron as we walk by.

Back to those racing pigs, yes, here in dairy land we have an entire program that highlights the athletic ability of pigs. Hogs, if they weigh over 180 pounds.

This differs from the swine judging, in swine judging no one expects the pig to do anything but stand there and grunt. At the racing pigs, the potential pork chops are expected to strut their stuff.

A small racetrack is set up and various oinkers complete with racing silks zoom, okay, waddle, around the track. Of course, you can't base a whole 45-minute show on little pork rinds chasing a Cheez Doodle around a track; you must jazz it up and have goats and ducks chasing Cheez Doodles.

Not to mention the swimming pig, in this rather odd event, they plop the little piggy in a tub of water and he paddles to the other side while the audience chants "go Rudy go."

Would it surprise you to learn that this racing pig exhibit has been at the fair for over 12 years and that in those 12 years it hasn't changed one bit-except for the fact that the first few years the pigs raced for Oreos? No, I did not think it would.

After making the kids mad because I refused to wave my arms around wildly in hopes of being a "pig driver," that is the designated cheerer of said racing pig. The kids could not believe I didn't want this glory or its accompanying title of Pig Queen of the race.

We head off to the find the absolutely most important thing at the fair -- food.

As we packed sandwiches for the kids (hey am I made of money?), we were looking for a few snacks to round out the meal.

Plus, I promised the kids that if we found it, we would try it-this years taste sensation at the fair, chocolate covered bacon (wait it gets better) on a stick, and no it isn't made from the losing pig.

Yes, someone not only thought 'hey bacon on a stick', but then though 'hmm, bacon on a stick dipped in chocolate.'

In case you are thinking this is a case of a vendor needing to get rid of much bacon before it went bad, let me point out that I have seen chocolate covered bacon at the candy store.

I know you are envisioning something dreamed up by Homer Simpson while he snoozed at the power plant, but I'm telling you it was a reputable candy store. They even had chocolate covered potato chips and for those health conscious folks chocolate covered fruit.

Now don't go thinking this food on stick is strictly a Wisconsin phenomena, I am sure there are plenty of other state fairs where various foods are shoved on a stick, rolled in another food and deep fried.

Well, it helps me sleep at night to think that at least.

Some food on a stick makes at least a tiny bit of sense, I did say tin), the chocolate covered cheesecake on a stick for example. The cheesecake is frozen and you eat it like an Eskimo pie bar or Dove bar. Put that way it almost seems crazy that someone didn't think of this sooner-although I may be suffering from heat stroke.

The bacon on a stick seems crazy, really crazy until you compare it to the Reuben on a Stick. Who on earth would even try to slap a whole sandwich, including sauerkraut on a stick? An even better question is who would try to eat this deep fried abomination?

To answer that question- many people, most of them for the benefit of the TV news camera. These poor sweaty saps agree to try the stick dujour. Nothing says yummy like watching some poor girl attempt to swallow burning hot cheese and sauerkraut gracefully while the TV person asks, "So what do you think."

Alas, we found no chocolate covered bacon on a stick, so I guess we will just have to wait to see next years stick shtick.

Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.

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