The Wisconsin State Fair is known for its adventurous foods, but the state’s numerous county fairs are as good a bet. Walworth County Fair, the state’s largest, celebrates its 175th year in 2024. Look to sample some of these specialties there and in other counties this summer.

By Kevin Revolinski | Pictured (left to right): Cream Puff, Wisconsin State Fair; Apple Wagon Caramel Apple Delight, Walworth County Fair; Funnel Cake, Dane County Fair


Celebrating their 100th year at the Wisconsin State Fair, these light and puffy pastry balls are typically filled with whipped cream, while some may be drizzled with chocolate or even served plain. But the common decoration is a simple dusting of powdered sugar, sure to end up on your face — so eat with care! Famously associated with Wisconsin State Fair since 1924, which sells about 350,000 during the 11 days of the fair, these confections have also found their way into the county fairs throughout southern Wisconsin and beyond.


Without the stick this dish frankly requires some coordination to eat, what with the fork twisting and balance of meat to pasta for each bite. But what if someone rolled the noodles into the meatballs, mounted them on a stick, and popped them into a fryer? Find yours at the historic Wisconsin Valley Fair.


It’s a classic here in Wisconsin, our fresh curds in a deep fryer. They are generally made with a light batter rather than breaded.

The result is a perfect thin crunch and magnificent cheese-pull moment, ,but without those empty breading shells. These are featured everywhere, but try Pierce County Fair in Ellsworth, Wisconsin’s Cheese Curd Capital.


Wisconsin is the nation’s fourth largest producer of maple syrup, bottling up around 400,000 gallons each year. We use it everywhere. You can put bacon on most anything and it’ll taste good. When a bit of your syrup touches your side of bacon at breakfast, you keep on eating. This fairway favorite, which can be found at the Manitowoc County Fair, combines that experience with vanilla ice cream for the perfect treat on a summer’s night.


For kids and college students mac ‘n’ cheese is a staple in this cheesy state, but one of the classic dishes made by moms across the state is the Mac ‘n’ Cheese Tater Tot casserole. Turn that into county fair food by rolling large spoonfuls of the creamy stuff into some breading and giving them some time in the fryer to turn it into finger food. You may find these at Dodge County Fair, for one.


Mom always said “Don’t eat raw cookie dough!” Problem solved. And if you ever had the debate on how you should eat an Oreo — filling first, cookies first, all together? — this presents another great option. Vendors dip both of these in batter or wrap them in pastry dough, deep-fry them and sprinkle them with powdered sugar. Kenosha and Racine County Fairs and others offer both.


Wisconsin is home to abundant apple orchards, so it’s no surprise deep-fried apple pie makes the county fair food lists, but this is a new twist: deep-fried tortilla chips sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, which are then smothered with apple pie filling, topped with caramel and a dash of salt, and then finished with whipped cream… and another drizzle of caramel. Look for this at Waukesha and Bayfield County Fairs.


The “sundae” swaps French fries in place of ice cream, and the toppings are sour cream, cheddar cheese sauce and bits of thick-cut bacon and sirloin steak – easy to eat from its cup. The hamburger served on a glazed donut bun might be closer to the sweet of a true sundae. Walworth County Fair is the first place to look.


Kevin Revolinski is a Wisconsin outdoors and beer writer and author of "Backroads and Byways of Wisconsin" a guidebook to the best paddling throughout the Badger State. See his website at

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