Friday, August 19, 2011

Eating Out with Your Kids – Kentucky State Fair

While I believe that wholesome meals at home should be the foundation of a family’s nutrition and together time, times do arise where you will be eating out. The first installment of this column will help a parent navigate the Kentucky State Fair. Fairs are usually a time to find fun and horribly sinful foods, but there are choices that are better than others.

The best venue to eat, hands down, is the Great Kentucky Cookout Tent located in front of Broadbent Arena (west of the West Hall Pavilion and north of the midway). There are many booths to choose from, and every vendor provides food from Kentucky farmers. You will find fare from the Kentucky Pork Producers, Kentucky Cattlemen’s, Kentucky Aquaculture, Kentucky Poultry, Country Ham, Sheep, Dairy and the Kentucky Corn Growers. The tent also is one of the few venues to provide families a “meal” instead a snack you will likely carry around with you.

If you have young children or are trying to conserve your calories, I suggest the Kentucky Corn Growers Association booth. They serve roasted sweet corn-on-the-cob and will gladly serve it without the butter substitute. The corn is grown in Shelbyville at Gallrein Farms. They also serve hand-dipped corn dogs using an old-fashioned corn meal batter from Weisenberger Mills in Midway. Depending on the thickness of the batter, the corn dog is between 250 and 300 calories.

If corn dogs are not your kid’s thing, the Cattlemen’s association serves an all-beef hot dog on a bun, which is also a lower-calorie choice. The Poultry Federation provides a kid’s meal of chicken nuggets, tater tots and applesauce. The Cattlemen’s and Pork Producers serve a small hamburger. The "Dairy Bar" serves grilled cheese sandwiches and milk.

Another pretty healthy option is a grilled chicken breast or chicken quarter from the Poultry Federation, paired with the roasted corn and a side of baked beans from the Pork Producers. Other vegetable options in the tent include an endless supply of fried potato products, and cole slaw.

Now for you food-loving parents, a few of my favorite things in the tent are the boneless pork chop and barbeque from the Pork Producers, the fried catfish from Aquaculture, and the beef brisket from Cattlemen’s. All of these options come in combo meals and can easily be shared.

You can top it all off with some ice cream or a milk shake from the Dairy Bar, but what I really recommend are the ice cream from Chaney’s Dairy Barn (Bowling Green) or one of the delectable caramel apples from The Sweet Shoppe (Hodgenville) – my absolute favorite is the Turtle apple with pecans, caramel, dark chocolate and white chocolate. Both of these booths are located in the lobby of the West Hall among the Kentucky Department of Agriculture exhibits.

Happy fair eating!

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