Bloomsburg, PA (2023)
We visited the Fair three times this year, so we had the opportunity to try a lot of different things. Some of what we had to eat and drink were old favorites while others were things that we were trying for the first time.
Friday, September 22nd
Our first stop for food on Friday was Crabby John's Seafood. This is a place that I first discovered in 2019 when I had their Soft Shell Crab Sandwich. This sandwich has accidentally become an every-other-year tradition for me. The Fair was cancelled due to the pandemic in 2020, but I had one again in 2021. We had already eaten by the time that we found this stand last season, so I didn't get to have one then.
If this trajectory holds, I'll have another one in 2025, but there's a chance that I break tradition and have one again next year because it's exactly the kind of thing that I look for at the Fair. It's not too expensive, not something I'd make to eat at home, and not something that's found in most restaurants that we go to throughout the year, but very tasty. The only thing it has going against it is that it's not very filling, but when you're at a place like the Bloomsburg Fair with so many different good things to eat, that can be considered another positive.
We had a few other things at Crabby John's Seafood this year. Angie had a bowl of Mac & Cheese with Lobster, Crab & Shrimp, and the two of us shared an order of deep fried chunks of shark meat that they call Shark Bites. I'm pretty sure that this was my first time trying shark, and while it wasn't bad, I think these are going to be a one time thing for me.
Our next stop was the Seiver's Smokehouse Grill stand for chicken on a stick. I had one with teriyaki sauce and my wife had one without sauce and with just the base seasonings that they use when grilling the chicken. It was very tasty and I think that this has become my wife's favorite food stand at the Fair because she had another one on Monday. I'd recommend getting it without the sauce, not because it's bad, but because I think it masks the flavor of the grilled chicken.
We also had Peach Lemonade and Strawberry Lemonade from Seiver's. They were both good, but I don't think I'd get them again. Even with the novelty cup, $12 for a non-alcoholic drink is pretty steep.
These slices of Chocolate Covered Pumpkin Caramel Cheesecake on a Stick are from Klinger's Fresh Fruit. They had all kinds of good fruit, both with and without chocolate, and I'm sure all of them were good, but it would be pretty hard to find a dessert that tastes better than this!
My wife and I have gone to the Bloomsburg Fair together every September for the past 17 years except for 2011 when it was cancelled due to flooding and in 2020 when it was cancelled due to the pandemic. In each of those years, we've made it a point to get two Apple Cider Floats from The Apple Cart and then bring them back to the tables near the fountain to enjoy them and listen to the water. It's a peaceful experience that I cherish and look forward to every year.
In my opinion, these Apple Cider Floats are the best value on the fairgrounds. They were $2.50 when we first started getting them back in 2006. They've gone up by a dollar, but when you consider how much everything else has gone up in price since then, $3.50 a very reasonable price to pay for a tasty and refreshing dessert. If there's anything else at the Fair that's this good for less than five dollars, I am not aware of it.
Mr. Sticky's Cinnamon Buns make an excellent breakfast, so we always make this stand one of our last stops before heading home. We must not the only ones who think so because there's always a massive line at the end of the day. I took a photo of the stand earlier in the day because it's just about the only time that I'd be able to get the whole thing in frame without folks blocking the view.
You can order a cinnamon bun or a walnut sticky bun, both of which come either plain or with a side of either cream cheese or peanut butter icing. I got a cinnamon bun with peanut butter icing, and it was absolutely delicious! I don't think I could eat something this sweet every day, but as a once-a-year treat, it's outstanding!
The other stand where we stop at the end of the day is the Down Home Homemade Rice Pudding stand. You can order your rice pudding in a bowl, parfait, waffle cone, in a sundae with whipped cream and a cherry, or in a plastic container to take home and enjoy later. My dad always used to get it in a cone and eat it there, but Angie and I like to get the container to take home and have it later.
There are quite a few different flavors, including original rice pudding (with sugar and sugar-free), tapioca, chocolate, raisin, banana, pumpkin, coconut, and blueberry. In the past, I've had the original, the pumpkin, the banana cream and the blueberry cream. I got the coconut cream one this year and while I haven't opened it up yet, I'm sure that it'll be as delicious as everything else I've had there.
One last thing that we brought home was a box of fudge from Michael Mootz Candies. We got some S'mores and Peanut Butter Fudge on Friday night and liked it so much that we picked up some Pumpkin Pie and Cookies & Cream Fudge on Sunday. Speaking of which...
Sunday, September 24th
It rained all day and all night on Sunday, so we stuck to the buildings and the vendors that had nearby seating with a roof. One of the first stops that we made was Bason's in the Keystone Agricultural Building for a cup of coffee. We both had their Pumpkin Muffin coffee which was incredible, especially on a cold and rainy day.
We had grilled beef and cheddar sandwiches topped with onions, mushrooms and barbecue sauce at Lora's for dinner on Sunday. Most years, we pick up two of these to bring home when we're about to leave because they reheat very well, but they have a lot of covered seating and the rain was falling pretty hard, so we decided that we'd eat them on the fairgrounds this year. They were delicious, as always.
I made a mental note of this stand on Friday when we walked past it after we snuggled with the baby goats. I was pretty full at the time and decided that I'd have to try these crab fries the next time we were here. The stand is on the main thoroughfare so there isn't any seating, but there's a large covered seating area in front of the restroom building right next to where this stand was located, so it ended up being a pretty convenient place to grab a bite to eat in the storm.
I've had crab fries many times in the past, but those were just regular french fries topped with Old Bay seasoning. These ones were covered with melted cheese and then topped with lump crab meat and Old Bay seasoning. I like crab meat a lot, but I don't think I'd get these again. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't bad, but the flavors just didn't go together, at least for me. I think I prefer my crab fries with just the Old Bay seasoning.
We tend to head into the exhibition buildings while it's still light out and then work our way through them while the sun is setting. After that, we usually grab a bite to eat and maybe one or two things to take home and then head out. However, I was pretty disappointed to see that most of the stands were closing up shop on Sunday night at 7:30 after we had gotten through all of the buildings. I'd estimate that by quarter to eight at night, maybe one out of every ten shops was still open... including the ones that were inside of the buildings.
I realize that it was raining, but I think that's still a pretty terrible way to treat the customers who did show up despite the rain. I'm going to remember this, and it's definitely going to inspire me to re-think whether or not I'd bother going to the Bloomsburg Fair on a rainy day in the future.
One of the few stands that did remain open for business was The Poppy Press Coffee Company who were selling sweet and savory crepes. I haven't had crepes since I was a freshman in high school. I remember that my dad, his girlfriend and I made them at home when I was living in Palm Beach Gardens and I thought they were very tasty. Angie ordered the Caprese and I had the Buffalo Chicken. They were served on paper plates which were wrapped in a cone shape before being covered with tinfoil to prevent them from leaking. It made them very easy to eat with a fork while we were walking, but it doesn't make for an especially good photo, so these pictures do not at all do justice to them. We both enjoyed them and thanked the folks who were running the place for staying open in the rain.
Monday, September 25th
I saw a sign advertising Pickle Cotton Candy at this Popcorn Company stand on Friday. We passed by it a few times that day and on Sunday, and the sign caught my eye every time. When I saw it again on Monday, I decided that I'd probably regret not trying it. I really didn't need a bag this big, but it's the only size that they come in. It's not bad... definitely tastes like a dill pickle, but not overpowering. It'd probably be pretty good on the Killer Kotton Kandy Kokoon Burgers next time there's a screening of Killer Klowns From Outer Space at the Mahoning.
This falls into the same category as the Pickle Cotton Candy. We passed by this Packer's food stand with a sign that advertised Mexican Street Corn Pizza on Sunday, but we had already eaten. It's a slice of pizza topped with buttered sweet corn, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, drizzled mayo and Tajin seasoning. It wasn't bad, but it didn't really taste too much like Mexican Street Corn to me. It's something I might try again if I see it on the menu at another pizza place, but I don't think I'd get it from here again.
There is a window in the wall between the box office to buy show tickets and the rear entrance of the grandstand building that has been selling freshly cut french fries for as long as I can remember. My grandfather used to stop here to buy a tray of fries when I was a kid, and we'd stand off to the side and eat them, so I thought it'd be a nice thing to do on our last day at the Fair this year.
Last, but not least, we had sandwiches from two of the May's Bar-BQ stands. They serve very simple, but very delicious sandwiches which are stuffed to overflowing with either pork, ham, or chicken. They'll ask if you want relish on it when you order, and if you're not totally opposed to the idea, I highly recommend that you say yes.
They're usually one of the stands that stay open after concerts get out after 10 pm when most of the rest of the Fair has closed up for the night. After seeing so many things close down before 8:00 on Sunday, I wasn't sure if that would be the case this year, so I got a chicken sandwich before the concert. Thankfully, the rain held off and the May's stand on the main thoroughfare was open after we got out of the show on Monday, so I had a hot ham sandwich as we left the Fair for the last time this season.
Despite the fact that I'm a little grouchy that so many stands closed up early on Sunday night, I really love this place. There are so many good things to eat and drink that you almost can't help but to find something that you'll enjoy.