If you didn’t make it to the 138th Maryland State Fair this year, then you missed an epic battle between French fries and fruit.
Fairgoers who are into staying fit, and avoiding sweet treats had to navigate acres of temptation during this annual summer-ending ritual that took place August 22 to September 2, 2019.
Kimberly Gover of Baltimore was there. “I come for the funnel cake of course. The food experience is definitely memorable.”
However, fans of the Maryland State Fair said that there were lots of great fresh options other than fried foods and sugary sweets and most of it was locally grown like honey dew melons, grapes, cantaloupes, and watermelon.
Stan Dabkowski, also known as “Farmer Stan” said, “The Maryland State Fair is the eleven best days of summer. Everyone is happy to be here. It’s a lot of fun.” He said he enjoys promoting Maryland products.
Dabkowski is the chair of The Maryland Foods Pavilion. He has been with the Maryland State Fair for over 36 years. He represents the fruit and vegetable growers. Dabkowski said corn and other veggies are big hits with fairgoers, even if the veggies don’t get the same top billing as funnel cakes.
Alan Schmidt of Monkton, Maryland known as "Cowboy Al" is also a vendor. He sold his own line of premium custom-blended spices that can also help to dress up healthy treats.
According to Dabkowski, 50 food vendors offered up freshly grown fruits and vegetables from Maryland farmers. Lamb, seafood, beef, and pork were also available.
Some fairgoers expressed that being healthy is not just about what you eat, but also about the portions. Small servings of even the most decadent foods can help when you are watching what you eat.
“This is actually my first time at the fair. I got the barbeque pork sundae, and it was actually really good. It’s pulled pork and coleslaw,” said Ryan Howard of Baltimore.
Although there were lots of options, a few fairgoers said they had to look closer to satisfy their taste buds.
“It has been a challenge for me to eat here because I am dairy-free, gluten-free, and have a lot of food allergies. But my kids are so excited. They love the food,” said Melissa Pfisterer of Baltimore.
Dabkowski said the garden salad was a big hit at the pavilion. It featured Maryland grown tomatoes, lettuce, and cucumbers. Eleven-year-old Cayden Johnson of Baltimore is a fan. “It is good. I like salads. I think they are good and they are healthy.”
Vendors said eating healthily at the fair is also easy on your wallet. They said fairgoers satisfied their appetites for healthy foods this year spending a little as two dollars.
Dabkowski admitted that although he enjoyed promoting healthy options to appeal to all audiences this year, he said the most popular choice in the pavilion was the Maryland Peach Sundae. The fresh corn on the cob was a close runner-up, according to Dabkowski.