Sep 25, 2022

Food At The Fair

Bloomsburg Fair
Bloomsburg, PA (2022)
For as long as I can remember, I have loved the Bloomsburg Fair.  The opening day of the fair is right up there with the Phillies Opening Day, the opening weekend at the drive-in, my birthday, Thanksgiving and Christmas as the dates that I look forward to every year.  It's hard to pinpoint exactly what makes this place feel so special to me.  I'm sure a big part of it is nostalgia - I'm walking past many of the same stands as a 42 year old man that I looked up at when my grandfather brought me to the fair as a child, and that I stopped at when I came here with friends as a teenager.  The food is incredible, and I love to walk around to check out the vendors and see the animals, art projects, and other displays that are set up, but the thing that it has in common with Citizens Bank Park and the Mahoning Drive-In Theater is that it's an overall atmosphere that makes me feel happy and at peace.

Ok, that's enough mushy stuff.  Let's get to the food!

We usually have a very light breakfast on the morning that we go to the Bloomsburg Fair, so we're pretty hungry by the time we get to the fairgrounds.  The next 15 minutes tends to play out the same way almost every year.  First, we'll look around to see if we can find something that we haven't tried before.  Everything looks good, but nothing jumps out at either of us as the first thing we want to eat at the fair.  Eventually we'll wander into the row where the Top Of The Beef food stand is located.  One of us will turn to the other to say something about how delicious their sandwiches are, and the decision has been made.  This is how the Top Of The Beef roast beef sandwich has accidentally become our traditional first food at the fair.

I know it looks like there's a lot of meat on the sandwich in this picture, but trust me when I tell you that this photo doesn't tell the whole story.  These things are absolutely packed with big slices and chunks of roast beef, to the point where it's almost impossible to eat the whole thing as a sandwich.  You will always have a pile of roast beef beef on the wrapper when the bread is gone.  These are huge, and very filling, and absolutely delicious!  I ate this sandwich about 18 hours ago and I'm salivating as I write this because I want another one!

Shortly after packing away a Top Of The Beef sandwich, I found a place that I have never stopped before.  I'm not sure if this is their first year at the fair or if I just never noticed them before, but their Stuffed Jalapeno On A Stick stopped me dead in my tracks.  You get two of them and a side of dipping sauce for five dollars, which is definitely worth the money.  Each one is about the size of a corn dog, and it's a fresh, crispy jalapeno pepper that's stuffed with cheddar cheese and bacon before being deep fried in pretzel dough.  I gobbled these up so quickly that I'm pretty sure I ate part of one of the sticks.

Dessert was next on the menu.  Angie had been talking about how much she was looking forward to a funnel cake for a few days, so we had a pumpkin funnel cake with cream cheese icing.  It was every bit as delicious as it sounds.

We've been to a few places over the years that load up their funnel cakes like they're an ice cream sundae, with a ridiculous amount of sauce, whipped cream, fruit, sprinkles, chocolate chips, and other toppings.  Not only is this overly messy, but it completely covers up the flavor of the funnel cake.  It would taste pretty much the same if you piled all of those toppings onto pieces of toast.  Take it from a fat middle-aged American dude - less is more when it comes to funnel cakes.  If you order a regular one, get it with a dusting of powdered sugar.  If you order a pumpkin one, get it with a cream cheese drizzle.  I know that those loaded ones look good, but trust me on this.

My wife and I have two traditions at the Bloomsburg Fair that we have kept since we starting coming here together 16 years ago.  One is that we start entering the buildings at around 5:00 when it's still bright and sunny out, and then we take our time going through them.  By the time we are finished with the buildings, the sun has gone down and the concourse is lit up with all of the multicolored lights from the food vendors.  Our other tradition is that we sit by the fountain in the horticulture building and have apple cider floats.

The apple cider floats are sold by a place called The Apple Cart at the back right hand corner of the agricultural building.  It's not fancy; just a couple scoops of vanilla ice cream and apple cider in a cup.  No photo I take of this is going to rock your world, but it's one of the most delicious and refreshing desserts at the Bloomsburg Fair, and at three dollars, it's also one of the best values you're likely to find on the fairgrounds.  If you like ice cream floats and you like apple cider, you've got to try one!

A much more recent tradition is that we pick up a Grilled Beef & Cheddar sandwich at Lora's to bring home.  Like Top Of The Beef, these things are packed with meat.  They're very wide and they're made with deli sliced roast beef with mushrooms and onions.  They re-heat in the air fryer very well, so they make a perfect late night dinner in front of the tv after we're all settled in at home.

Our final stop before heading home is the Mr. Sticky's truck to pick up cinnamon buns.  The lines are almost always huge, but the folks who run this place have their jobs down to a science, so it moves very quickly.  Their cinnamon buns are to die for, and they make a perfect breakfast for the morning after the Bloomsburg Fair.  Just zap 'em in the microwave for 45 seconds, spread the cream cheese icing on top, and enjoy!

If you'll indulge me in one final pro-tip from a Fair veteran: bring a little cooler with some ice packs and bottles of soda or water or whatever you like to drink and leave it in the car.  You will be thirsty by the time you leave, and you'll probably be in the car for a long time as you try to exit the fairgrounds.  Not only will this planning ahead save you a few bucks, but it'll be less things to carry for the long walk (or tractor ride) back to your car.