Those Wisconsin Folk are Lightweights When it Comes to Fair Eating
A Milwaukee filmmaker who chronicled one man's annual quest to eat every deep-fried and "on a stick" food served at the Wisconsin State Fair has a few tips for fair-goers contemplating similar missions.
Sauerkraut balls: Wasn't that a nickname for Hitler?
Mark Irving, whose 13-minute "documentary comedy" Eat Your Fill will be shown at Chicago's Food Film Festival this weekend, says determined eater Phil Wesson keeps his hunger elevated by standing while eating and not wasting precious belly space on liquids (Wesson apparently didn't have to contend with fried margaritas, beer, Coke or lemonade.)
Irving says Wesson also makes a point of eating only items that fit his criteria precisely.
"There was a pork chop advertised as being on a stick," Irving recalls. "They'd carved away some of the meat so the bone was sticking out. Is that really on a stick? He ended up eating part of it."
So how many foods did Wesson eat? 30? 40? 50?
"At least 13," Irving says. "It took him an hour and a half."
Wisconsin no doubt hosts a lovely state fair. But, for comparison's sake, there were 10 deep-fried finalists in the Big Tex competition. Most of the hundreds of people who turned out for the judging ceremony tried all of the items, and none of them got to star in a movie.
"That's a lot of food though," Wesson maintains. "If you consider he ate it all, it's amazing."
Wisconsin's fair is about one-third the size of the State Fair of Texas, and fair-goers' tastes tend to run toward the dainty. The fair's signature snack is a cream puff, made in the Original Cream Puff Pavilion. Even when the weather's lousy, as it was this year, the pavilion sells more than 345,000 puffs.
Other popular snacks at the Wisconsin State Fair include roasted corn and baked potatoes.
"I personally really enjoy -- and people gag at this -- deep-fried sauerkraut balls," says Irving, who completed the challenge alongside Wesson. "Those are tremendous. They're as big as Brussels spouts and flavored with caraway seeds. They're delicious."