The carnival can kick rocks. The rodeos can rope themselves off. Concerts can cool it. We know what you're headed to the fair for: Food, and lots of it.
There's a reason Jeannie Burton, fair concessions supervisor, trots out that ol' chestnut each year that "there are no calories in fair food." Because we know those items are maxing out our daily caloric intake — but we don't care. This is the time of year for corn dogs, giant turkey legs, nachos and fried cheese, cinnamon rolls and kettle corn.
Of course that's not to say we don't want new treats to tempt our taste buds. We are creatures of habit but everyone loves a new flavor to their fair fare.
Although the concessions were still finalizing their menus as of press time, here is what we know is new this year:
Sweet and savory waffle options, street dogs (Teen Challenge): Teen Challenge could probably rest on its laurels. Along with the standard assortment of hamburger and hot dogs, the local concession sells its memorable apple and peach dumplings, a delicious treat of fruit wrapped in baked dough and topped with a dollop of cream cheese frosting. But the faith-based rehabilitation program has a bevy of new options to bring you out to their two locations.
They're wild for waffles this year, according to coordinator Christie Luna. She said they'll have fresh waffles you can have with powdered sugar or topped with strawberries and whipped cream as well as crisp "cinnabun" waffle wedges (two to an order) topped with cream cheese frosting. On the savory side, try a waffle cone filled with fried chicken tenders and your choice of tater tots or coleslaw. Those cones will be served with a side of ranch dressing, hot sauce or syrup.
"They’re nice because you can carry them around," Luna said.
The concession is also entering the street dog game, topping a jumbo hot dog with secret sauce (a mix of ranch and Thousand Islands dressings), grilled onion, grilled tomato, lettuce, pickles and strips of bacon.
Flamin' Hot Cheetos street corn (Noel's Foods): Much like with corn dogs, you have a few options when it comes to corn at the fair. So how do you stand out? For Noel's Foods, it's about spicing it up with Flamin' Hot Cheetos.
"They take the Cheetos and mash it up and roll the corn in it," Burton said.
In order to avoid direct competition in the Villa Festiva, which already has the successful Senor Carlos concession, Noel's will serve its spiced corn at its booth on Grand Avenue, Burton said.
Naked burrito bowl (JLQ Concessions): Erica Quintero is a second-generation concessionaire for the business started by her parents 19 years ago. Even with lots of popular Mexican food options, the concession has room to grow. This year, it will offer a naked burrito bowl, which starts with a base of rice and beans (no light lettuce bottom unless you ask for it). Diners can choose from ground beef, carne asada, grilled chicken, carnitas or al pastor for the dish.
"I’m going to go ahead and top it off with our homemade pico de gallo, which I really like," Quintero said. "We’ve worked on that (pico). We do fresh lime in it, salt, pepper, little bit of garlic salt and oregano."
Dole whip (Udder D-Lite): Primarily in the domain of Disneyland/Disney World, the delicious pineapple soft serve treat is as elusive as a new theme park ride with no wait time. But Darren and Kristen Cluff's Udder D-Lite concession will bring a bit of the tropics to the fair. Might be just the thing if that heat wave lingers.
Award-winning mac 'n' cheese (Brookside Market): The local market, which has taken top honors at the Mac N Cheese Fest in both Bakersfield and Avila Beach with its chile verde mac, is wisely setting up shop for the first time at the fair. Burton said they will have the award-winning pasta as well as a version with butter chicken.
Dirty fries (The Sleek Greek): Although we weren't able to confirm details as of press time, Burton said she was told these fries will be smothered in toppings a la the stinky fries at Lengthwise Brewing Co. We'll see how this compares.
Deep-fried fruit punch, frozen Minute Maid Lemonade (Toucan Enterprises): This concession is following in the fryer-steps of Mac's Patio, which tried out a deep-fried Kool-Aid in 2011. Toucan will fry fruit punch balls as well as serve a frozen version of the popular lemonade.
Pizookie, doughnut gelato sandwich, (Colossal Gelato, Work to Give): Fans of BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse will know what to expect when they hear "pizookie," but for the uninitiated it's a warm 8-inch chocolate chip cookie topped with, in this case, gelato.
Veteran fairgoers may recall a doughnut ice cream sandwich that rolled out at a (now-departed) concession in 2015. This version will swap the ice cream for the more decadent gelato for an impressive treat, Burton said.
"You need the mouth of a gorilla to consume it," she said. "It's gorgeous."
We'll be the judge of that when we head out on Sept. 20.