Summer means it's finally time to go to all the festivals, fairs, and carnivals that we look forward to every year. It's time to go see our favorite singers and bands in concert, walk around at fairs, and ride on the carnival rides or play the games that are set up each year. Another part of these that we look forward to is all the food that they always have! Who doesn't think all year long about going to eat their favorite snow cones, cotton candy, and funnel cakes at festivals in the summer?
Although those foods are great, there are a lot of other offerings at different festivals around the United States that are delicious and a little less conventional. No shade to the classics like caramel apples and pizza, but sometimes, we just want to be a little bit more adventurous and try something new for a change when we go to a carnival or fair. Around the US, there are all kinds of food stands that set up at these festivals that come up with incredibly unique and creative foods for people to try while they're enjoying their time at the festival in the sun.
Here are 25 of the most deliciously mouthwatering carnival foods from fairs and festivals around the US!
25 Orange County Fair: Wasabi Bacon Bombs
Bacon-A-Fair is a food stand that is a must-stop for people attending the Orange County Fair. They often come out with exciting new creations for the fair and their fans just can't get enough.
One of their releases in recent years was the Wasabi Bacon Bomb, a deep-fried delight that fits nicely on their menu with other items like the French Toast Bacon Bomb, Bacon Wrapped Turkey Leg and Bacon Potato.
For people who like a lot of meat and a little spice, the Wasabi Bacon Bomb is definitely the best thing on the menu.
24 Montana State Fair: Deep-Fried Butter Balls
Butter is an ingredient, not the main dish... Right? Well, maybe not.
At the Montana State Fair, they've taken butter from an ingredient to a whole meal by deep frying balls of it in batter and hot oil! Carnival food is often all about deep frying other foods like candy bars, ice cream, and even drinks but simply deep frying balls of butter is taking that trend to a whole new level. Like other deep-fried foods, the outside is crispy and crunchy while the inside is gooey and melted.
23 Oklahoma State Fair: Deep-Fried Mashed Potatoes
This food is one that could definitely benefit from those deep-fried butter balls. Who doesn't like mashed potatoes with a little butter on them?
When they're deep-fried and put on a stick like the people at the Oklahoma State Fair like for them to be, they don't really need it!
Fittingly, these are made by The Deep-Fried Mashed Potatoes Company and the same food stand also brings other deep-fried comfort foods to the people visiting the fair like deep-fried mac and cheese.
22 Lollapalooza: Lobster Corndog
Anyone who has ever been to a carnival, fair, or festival knows that corn dogs are basically a staple food at these events. No matter your age, picking up a corn dog to enjoy in the summer heat at a carnival or festival is one of the best parts of summer. At Lollapalooza, the Graham Elliot Bistro takes that classic to a whole new level by using lobster inside instead. Yum! The same stand is responsible for Truffle and Parmesan Popcorn which tells us that Master Chef judge really knows how to add a twist to a summer classic.
21 Orange County Fair: Deep-Fried Avocados
Hold the toast, the Orange County Fair has given avocados a whole new life.
This deep-fried dish may not be the healthy and aesthetically pleasing avocado toast that it seems like everyone has at least one picture of on their social media feed, but we have to admit that they look pretty tasty.
No, your eyes don't deceive you, these really are deep-fried avocados. The people of Baja Blues make it by taking half an avocado, stuffing it with carne asada and cheese, and then deep frying it in a batter.
20 Alameda County Fair: Chocolate Covered Scorpions
If the typical deep-fried treats that are all over fairs and festivals aren't for you, the Alameda County Fair might have something that's more your speed. Looking for something adventurous? The stand responsible for these chocolate-covered insects is also responsible for other such exotic snacks as kangaroo or alligator corn dogs, deep-fried jelly beans, and chocolate-covered maggots.
While the idea of these snacks is enough to turn some peoples' stomachs, other people love to try them either for the novelty or because they truly love the food. Talk about an acquired taste!
19 Ohio State Fair: Chocolate-Covered Bacon On A Stick
Mixing sweet and salty isn't exactly a new concept. There's a reason that pretzels are one of the best things to dip into a delicious jar of Nutella when you want to treat yourself. The mix of the sweet flavor with the salty flavor really go well together. At the Ohio State Fair, they totally understand that.
Bubba's Bacon is a food stand at the Ohio State Fair that, as the name suggests, features all kinds of different bacon-related food.
Along with the Chocolate-Covered Bacon on a Stick, Bubba's Bacon also offers up things like Bacon Popcorn, 1/4 Lb. Bacon On A Stick, and the Bacon Burger.
18 Orange County Fair: Caviar-Topped Twinkies
Some fairs and festivals offer up Twinkies in different forms like deep-fried, but only the Orange County Fair adds caviar to the top. This classic snack food is usually fairly affordable and not exactly considered a fancy snack by most people but Chicken Charlie's, a food stand at the Orange County Fair that fair-goers love, has definitely found a way to change that.
At $125 per caviar-topped snack cake, these aren't for people who are looking for an affordable festival treat.
17 San Diego Fair: Spaghetti Donuts
Yes, these are exactly what they sound like. Although it's not technically a donut, these Spaghetti Donuts from the San Diego Fair are made to look like them.
The creative vendor that sells these takes cooked spaghetti and molds them into round shapes with a hole in the center, just like the classically fried donuts we're all familiar with, and then tops them with sauce, cheese, and herbs.
For people who want their pasta in a unique form but isn't interested in these, the San Diego Fair is also home to the Lasagna Nacho. Yum!
16 Orange County Fair: Funnel Cake Cheeseburger
Separately, funnel cakes and cheeseburgers are totally classic fair foods. Funnel cakes are typically found topped with sweet toppings like powdered sugar, fruit, and whipped cream. This sweet treat is a delicious way to beat the heat but the Orange County Fair took a totally different take on them by making them savory.
Instead of being topped with sweet toppings, the Orange County Fair took two cheeseburger patties and slices of cheese and popped them between two plain funnel cakes. Yum!
15 South Carolina State Fair: Deep-Fried Pepsi
Deep-fried food isn't exactly unique when it comes to going to a carnival or festival, right? We've all seen our fair share of deep-fried treats like candy bars, scoops of ice cream, and cookies. Although there are still some that surprise us to hear about, most deep-fried carnival foods aren't anything special.
But deep frying a drink? Now that's unique!
The South Carolina State Fair is the home to Deep-Fried Pepsi which involves filling a ball of dough with some of the sweet liquid and then tossing it in the fryer. Yum!
14 Orange County Fair: Pineapple Express
For convenience and in order to be totally disposable, festival and fair foods come in plastic or paper plates and bowls. Chicken Charlie's decided to make a super special treat for the Orange County Fair and switched up the delivery method of their delicious festival eats.
Chicken Charlie's calls this delicious meal the Pineapple Express which is a super fitting name since, instead of a bowl or a plate, the entire thing comes in a hollowed-out half pineapple. Fair-goers can choose between naked shrimp with rice inside the pineapple or a serving of Maui chicken with their rice when it comes to filling the pineapple bowl.
13 San Diego Fair: Deep-Fried Starbucks
We know that frying up liquids isn't unheard of at fairs and festivals, but frying coffee? That just seems crazy!
We know what you're thinking, that it must be a fried dough that was made with Starbucks coffee instead of water or that it's just fried coffee beans, right?
Definitely not that someone at the San Diego Fair is actually deep frying coffee, right?
Nope! Like the Deep-Fried Pepsi, these caffeinated treats are made of dough that was filled with coffee before frying.
12 Texas State Fair: Deep-Fried Pop-Tarts
Whether or not to put your Pop-Tart in the toaster before eating it is a decision that people who like these breakfast pastries have strong opinions on. Some people prefer to eat them cold and straight out of the box while others like to warm them up a little to get the fruit inside all gooey and melted.
For people attending the Texas State Fair, simply warming their Pop-Tarts in the freezer is not enough. There, people like them deep-fried and topped with Fruity Pebbles with a side of whipped cream.
11 San Diego Fair: Cotton Candy Ice Cream Sandwich
No, this isn't the latest summertime bath bomb from Lush - although we totally know it looks just like one! You won't want to be popping this sweet treat into your bathtub, no matter how much it looks like it's going to turn your water galaxy colors and make your water smell fruity.
This sweet treat is from the San Diego Fair and is made of two pieces of cotton candy with a piece of ice cream sandwiched between them.
To really amp up the sweetness, it's coated in fruity pebbles around the edges.
10 Orange County Fair: Deep-Fried Birthday Cake
The Orange County Fair has a ton of different delicious food and a lot of them are deep-fried but not many are as quite as clever as this deep-fried slice of birthday cake.
The outside of this deep-fried birthday cake is delicious and crispy, as someone would expect from a deep-fried treat, but the inside is just like the most deliciously moist yellow cake that someone could eat. The outside is complete with a drizzle of purple frosting and a candle that comes unlit and is surrounded by fluffy whipped cream. Yum!
9 San Joaquin Asparagus Festival: Deep-Fried PB&J Sandwich
At the San Joaquin Asparagus Festival, fair-goers can find asparagus cooked in an incredibly diverse number of ways. Asparagus that's been made into pasta? Asparagus that's been deep-fried? Asparagus that's been made into ice cream? If you can name it, they probably have it. But for people who are there and a little tired of eating their greens in every imaginable form, they do offer up some other foods as well.
One of them is a twist on our childhood lunchbox favorite: a deep-fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
The gooey peanut butter and sweet strawberry jelly melt together in the heat of the fryer which is a delicious contrast to the crunchy outer layer.
8 Austin City Limits: Kimchi Fries And Korean Tacos
Fries and tacos are nothing new when it comes to fair food. For people who aren't into trying all the extravagant deep-fried delights that can be found at every carnival, fair, and festival they attend during the summer, getting something safe like a plate of fries or a couple tacos is the go-to option. But who said that those classics have to be boring?
Chi'lantro BBQ at Austin City Limits puts a twist on those by offering up fries covered in kimchi and their special Korean chicken tacos. Yum!
7 Orange County Fair: Deep-Fried Pizza
No, this isn't a trick of the camera. This slice of pizza really is as enormous as it looks. Being a huge slice of pizza isn't the only unique thing about it, though.
On top of being big enough for a couple people to share, this slice of pizza is also deep-fried in batter before being served to fair-goers who attend the Orange County Fair.
While hot and gooey pizza is delicious and found at just about every festival, fair, and carnival around, this deep-fried version of the classic food is a whole new take on it.
6 Maui County Fair: Chicken Fried Bacon
Food that's labeled as "chicken-fried" isn't exactly new to restaurants or to carnivals and fairs. Chicken-fried steak can be found on the menus at many restaurants and some fairs even have chicken-fried lobster. But it just wouldn't be a carnival or festival if they didn't manage to get bacon into the mix, would it?
The Maui County Fair in Hawaii serves these strips of delicious fried goodness up and fair-goers just can't get enough. Before being cooked, the slices of bacon are dipped in batter and then tossed in a deep-fryer. The result is bacon that has a crispy outer layer similar to fried chicken. Yum!
5 Austin City Limits: Frozen Bananas
Even though many carnival eats are deep fried and piping hot, going to a fair or festival in the summertime often makes us want to relax with something a little cooler and get our temperature down instead of eating something warm.
Luckily, people attending Austin City Limits down in Texas can do just that when they stop at Bananarchy and pick up a frozen banana.
At Bananarchy, fair-goers get to take a frozen banana and have it dipped in their choice of dips like chocolate, peanut butter, and vanilla before it's rolled in toppings that include nuts, cookies, sprinkles, and candy.
4 Orange County Fair: Krispy Kreme Cheeseburgers
Cheeseburgers are a totally classic summer food. Whether you're at a fair or carnival or just grilling on your back porch, sitting down with a hot and gooey cheeseburger is one of the best parts of summer. While they traditionally have just regular bread for buns, the Orange County Fair decided to step it up a little by doing something different. Instead of using regular buns, they've put their patties and slices of cheese between two glazed Krispy Kreme donuts!
3 San Diego Fair: Chocolate Pasta
Although this food may seem strange, people who attend the San Diego Fair are totally into it. This Chocolate Pasta is exactly what it sounds like - noodles made of chocolate.
It's served in a strawberry waffle cone bowl that can also be eaten after the person eats all the pasta inside and it's topped with strawberries, whipped cream, and a mint leaf.
If you're struggling to choose between eating something sweet and something savory while at the San Diego Fair, pick this up! It's sweet but it's in a form that's traditionally savory, so it's like the best of both worlds.
2 California State Fair: Deep-Fried Watermelon
When it comes to eating deep-fried foods, carnivals and fairs are totally the places to be. If you want to have the best possible cheat day by eating all your favorite snacks in a battered and deep-fried form, there's no better place than your local carnival or fair! And it's not just pizza, bacon, and Pepsi that gets the deep-frying treatment. Even your favorite summertime fruits like wedges of watermelon can get battered and fried.
On top of this sweet, crispy treat is powdered sugar, cherry syrup, and a cherry on top!
1 Orange County Fair: Kool-Aid Pickles
Yes, Kool-Aid Pickles are exactly what they sound like. Also known as Koolickles, these sweet and sour treats got their start in the southern part of the United States.
Now, they're a staple at many festivals and fairs for people who want to try something that's sweet and sour and has a bit of a crunch to it.
At the Orange County Fair, fair-goers can line up to pick up a pickle that's the typical green on the outside and has been colored bright red by cherry Kool-Aid inside.