GRAND ISLAND, Neb. — Lori Cox has a catch-all recommendation when asked what foods people should try at the Nebraska State Fair: “Anything deep-fat-fried on a stick,” she said. “You can’t beat it.”

The fair’s executive director also offers a few specifics for fairgoers’ “must-try” lists.

“Really, you have to stop at the (Nebraska Cattlemen) Beef Pit and try the prime rib sandwich,” Cox said. “You absolutely must do it.”

She also recommended more unorthodox treats like the cherry nut ice cream at the Scoops Ice Cream Store and the stir-fry at Boki European Street Food.

Some classics on her list of favorites: McConnell’s root beer floats and Freund Family Food’s deluxe mac and cheese.

Food is a big draw for visitors to the 150th edition of the Nebraska State Fair. We reviewed a few choice offerings:

Prime rib sandwich at the Nebraska Cattlemen Beef Pit:

  • The sandwich includes two slices of tender Nebraska beef, with charred edges hanging off a white bun. The subtle smoky flavor of the meat was enjoyable even for those who don’t usually enjoy beef. With some barbecue sauce, it’s a classic fair meal.

Baja Corn Dog at Hardenbrook’s:

  • The corn dog’s coating was warm and soft, tasting like true cornbread. The hot dog’s salty flavor paired well with the slight tang of a creamy mayo drizzle, the cool crunch of bell peppers and the crisp finish of cilantro. The chili powder and Parmesan finish call to mind South Omaha’s own food vendors.

Pineapple Whip at Hawaiian Chill:

  • If the feeling of jumping into a chilly pool in the heat of summer had a physical form, this dessert would be it. The treat held the taste of fresh fruit and a texture somewhere between Italian ice and soft serve. Plus, its subtle sweetness lets adults enjoy the dessert for more than just a few bites.

Bourbon chicken at Freund Family Food:

  • Moist chicken was served with broccoli and white rice, all coated in a sweet glaze. With each bite, you can sense just a tickle of spice on your tongue and a hint of bourbon aftertaste.

Fried cauliflower at Hall Family Foods:

  • The fried cauliflower was a surprisingly satisfying snack. The florets maintained their firmness and were complemented by a warm, buttery, fried exterior.

Iced latte at the Secret Garden:

  • A refreshing pick-me-up. The frappe was sweet without overwhelming the senses and had a smooth, well-roasted flavor.

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skarst@owh.com, 402-444-1276

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