New Mexico State Fair – Albuquerque, NM

by Nick
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Published on: September 20, 2010

When I was a kid, my mother would take us to the State Fair.  We would marvel over the giant vegetables, trains, animals, performances and of course the food.  We didn’t eat a lot while we were there as it was always over priced and with 3 growing boys, it adds up quick.  We never went on the rides, didn’t even go to the midway, there was no point.  There was however, a lot of art, crafts, people’s heart and soul displayed in a shiny glass case waiting for people to walk by and admire the hard work and dedication they put in to their specific craft.

Midway

It’s been a few years since I have gone to the fair with my mother and a fair few more since I was a kid, but I still love the fair. The sites, the sounds, the crowded streets, it’s all still there, well ALMOST all still there.

Now for anyone who has attended the New Mexico State Fair before (or pretty much any fair anywhere for that matter), it would be obvious why, on a food blog, I am writing about it.  For me, and most of my friends, the fair has become more about food than it is about anything else.  I’m sad to say that for a lot of people, it’s more about the fair.  This year seemed a little more sparse than previous years.  With the fair closed on Mondays and Tuesdays and no more Park N Ride service, it seems I’m not the only one who thinks so.

Well, lets get on with the food. The first think you notice, besides the big rides hovering over you after all, is the food.  You are almost immediately bombarded with the smells and sounds of cooking and it is fantastic.  If they could make a cologne of that smell, I’d buy it.  Then again, that would make me constantly hungry, so it’s probably a good thing.

Mainstreet

What to get?  So many choices?  Do I go with the Mega Corndog? The giant Pretzels?  Curly fries, Barbeque, Corn, something battered and fried?  Pizza, Hamburger, Hot dog?  All the greasy fast food you can possibly think of and more is at your beck and call.  Well as I went with a couple good friends of mine and they already got the Mega Corndog: (Something that I would only order if I were feeding  a very large family… or small country)

Megadog

TurkeyLegI will revert to the one request made of me on my trek to the Fair.  I have to get a turkey leg.   This massive smoky bit of caveman goodness is brought to you by several stands at pretty much any fair around the country.  Reminiscent of Victorian movies displaying the favorite of kings, a giant hunk o meat, slightly dried on the outside requiring a good solid tug from the teeth.  It tastes almost like ham, with the amount of smoky saltiness inside something that is usually lacking in any kind of flavor.  I didn’t finish.  As a matter of fact, with 4 of us there, between the Turkey leg, Mega Corndog, sausage on a stick and a giant order of curly fries, we were stuffed and ended up throwing a bit away.  Sad, but that is the fair for you.  Sausage

 

 

 

 

 

 

CurlyFries

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So much more food to try, how in the world are we going to get through it all?  For my readers, I do what I have to, but for the moment, we’ll take a short break from food to discuss, the rides.  Every year they have a big ride, something to scare the crap out of any but the most diehard adventure seekers.  This year they had two.  The slingshot, a personal favorite of mine, which I didn’t get a chance to go on this year for the belly full of food review I didn’t feel like tasting a second time.  New this year is Bungee Jumping.  Churro

This 130 ft tower sports a very nice airbag at the bottom, incase something goes wrong.  To the left of the tower?  My hand holding a churro, sadly to say there was no airbag for that in case something went wrong.  Had I known the churro had been sitting in a heater case slowly evacuating any and all excess (and all necessary) moisture as well, I was left in desperate need of something to drink.  Add the fact that it was probably around 90 degrees outside and it’s time to try out one of the dozen and a half lemonade stands around the park.

Tell me this Albuquerque, why is it, in an area as densely populated with refreshing beverage stands as a rock concert is with over aged groupies trying to relive their glory days, is it so hard to find a good and refreshing lemonade?  I tried several and they had about as much to do with lemons as a fried Twinkie has to do with Health food.  Everything is made from a syrup, it’s time to take a different path.

Fortunately, in the sea of oddly shaped bottles, there is another stand with oddly shaped bottles dispensing slushies.  With several different flavors to choose from, you are welcome to pick your combinationSlushy .

I chose grape and strawberry, my gf chose orange.  Both were delicious and cold.  Though it’s also made from a syrup, that is where my expectation is and that is exactly what I got.

The tube of icy goodness gave us time to walk around the fair, see the sites.  The art there is amazing.  Sadly, no one is allowed to take pictures, but if you go to the fair, you really should look at the art.  Several buildings full of crafts, paintings, sculptures, carvings and more will help you pass the time between first and second meal.

Knowing I had to pace myself, it’s time for cotton candy.  There is no finer cotton candy in all the land than at the Dairy Barn on the north end.  An Added bonus, they also have ice cream and cows.

On the way in I had a lovely conversation with a lady who taught me all about the process of making yarn.  She was, in herself a living display.  The tools, different stages of the process and final products all around, she was happy to give an explanation of how you go from a sheep to a sweater and all the steps in between.  It truly was fascinating to hear here get excited about something she had obviously done since she was a kid.  I highly suggest you stop by and say hello and really take in what the fair is all about, the farmers and craftsmen.

Now, on to the cotton candy!….Wait, what does that sign say?

CottonCandy

RetiredLet me give you a closer look….

Devastation, heartache, murderous rebellion!  How could they?  What happened?  Every time I went, for years, they were busy, slammed. Take a ticket and wait for your cotton candy, fresh and slightly warm from the machine.  Piled as high as an elephants eye and oh so light and fluffy.  Panic, desperation, sugar low!!!  It’s a sad year.

They retired.  Let us take a moment of silence and pay our respects….

 

Food is only one of the reasons to go to the fair.  One of my big draws every year is the Blacksmith.  I can stand at the Blacksmith blacksmith stand for hours just watching as they heat metal until it’s red hot, manipulate it with hammers, vices, chisels, pliers and their own two hands into beautiful artwork.  Fire

 

 

 

 

 

Mesmerized by the dancing fire, this is an art form that I am glad some people are keeping alive.

They have beautiful pieces of hand worked metal for sale as well as constant demonstrations of their work and skill.

I asked one of them as I watched him bend and hammer metal into an interesting shape, “What are you making?”

“The most useful tool known to man, a bottle opener with a cork screw.”

 

After testing my friend’s patients to their limits, it was best to get back to the food.  They were all still full from lunch, but for me, I had a review to write.  I needed to eat the food, not for myself, but for you.  As much as I am willing to give of myself, sadly I have to say I didn’t not have a chance to try everything at the fair.  Here are some of the highlights of what I DID get a chance to try though:

Tom Tom Donuts.  Light, crisp, made in a special machine right in front of your eyes.  They do not get any fresher than this.

Donuts

Cheese Fries from the Hand Cut Fries:  Store bought nacho cheese, I’m always happy to partake.  Fresh cut fries, hot, fresh, lightly salted.  Though not as good as I remember from last year, still quite tasty.

Fries

You can’t go to the fair and not get corn.  There are several places around in which you can get your fill, but my favorite, by far is the Cornfield.  Cooked just enough, hot and still had a nice crunch.  Your choice of seasonings from salt to garlic powder to parmesan cheese, you can make any kind of Corn you want.  Whatever you do, eat this last, or bring dental floss, you’ll need it.

 

Corn

A few things I didn’t get to try, but something you should think about while you are there:

CaramelApple

CandiedApples

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NutRolls

 

 

 

 

I didn’t get a chance to go down Fry alley, which heads to the Hispanic and Indian Villages.  The food is amazing in these areas.  I always get the fry bread in the Indian Village, but this year, there just wasn’t enough time in the day.  On the way there, along with all the shops, you can get deep fried Twinkies, snickers, Oreos and all sorts of other crazy things you wouldn’t normally want to add calories to.

There are so many things to see at the fair, that even though several exhibits are not as active as they once were, there is always something new to try.  Liquid Nitrogen ice cream for example.  Oh why can’t I have 4 stomachs like a Flowerscow?  Sadly I had to pass.  Go check out the vendors, get some ice cream or checkout the wooden flowers.  See a show, like the guy on the 6 foot high Unicycle that rides around a juggles hatchets and knives, or go bungee jumping, (before lunch please).

Unicycle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KettleCorn

 

 

The last thing to get before leaving the fair is Kettle corn.  Never had kettle corn?  It’s a salty and sweet popcorn that is just about the best thing ever.  This year I got a small bag as I always have too much, but it’s well worth it.

The fair is a good time, even if the only cotton candy they have are in little bags, pre-smashed for your annoyance.  Drink lots of water, wear a lot of sunscreen and get your cotton candy inside the Exhibit Center along with your candied apples. Go and see what New Mexico has to offer,  I mean, how often is it you get to see a 325 lbs pumpkin?

Pumpkins


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1 Comment - Leave a comment
  1. elizabeth says:

    I found the cotton candy…while it wasn’t made by that old couple…it was made fresh and piled to the sky! And affordable…:) It was not in the barn building, but in the middle of that street. As you were walking down the street it was on the right and had many vendors in it. It is the same building they do the chocolate show in. Good luck next year!!

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