IM’s At Home Series: Favorite State Fair Foods

It wasn’t really a surprise when we all learned in June that the 2020 Indiana State Fair would be canceled. We are, after all, living in a pandemic, and everything is different right now. But even if we suspected the cancellation would come, it still hurt.

“Et tu, elephant ear?”

The loss of the fair is more than that, of course. It’s a big economic hit for the state of Indiana, not to mention the vendors who depend on fair revenue to keep their businesses alive. There are also 4-H families that work all year long in anticipation of showing off their hard work to big crowds in the livestock buildings that line the midway (which leads to livestock sales that cover everything from feed to transportation to college tuition).

Above all, the fair cancellation reminds us that there is, quite literally, an uncontained virus in the air, and many of us have loved ones who have been impacted directly, either by the virus itself, or on the front lines as healthcare or essential service workers. This is a tough summer, all around.

It’s hard to know what to do to help when so many are suffering. But one thing we at Indianapolis Monthly like most is connecting people with the chefs and local food producers that provide comfort and community through their work—the things they make for others. So when the fair was canceled and sadness rippled through social media about the foods that will have to wait until next year (a lot of fried this, that, and the other), we decided to bring the fair foods to you. Every week in July and August we’ll be sharing recipes for state fair favorites, crafted by someone in the local food community. All recipes will be suitable for home cooks, and can be done in a home kitchen. (No food truck or deep fryer required.) Our hope is that it’s fun and delicious for you and your family, and gives you a way to scratch that fair food itch until 2021, when (fingers crossed!) the Indiana State Fair returns bigger, better, and safer than ever.

Read through entire recipes before you get started, including the notes at the end. And we’d love to see your at home fair creations. Post your pictures on social media and tag us at @IndyMonthly or use hashtag #INStateFairAtHome.

Week One: Elephant Ears

Week Two: Roasted Corn