Until I went to the Calgary Stampede this year, I didn’t realize it was more than horses and country music.
In fact, you can access the grounds ($18 per adult, $9 for kids 7+ and seniors, free for kids six and under) and spend an entire day at the fair without ever seeing the inside of a stadium. Picture something akin to the Canadian National Exhibition. On crack. Because the fair grounds — called “on park” by locals — are enormous.
Of the Midway’s 58 new foods this year, I sampled an embarrassing number of them — in the name of research, of course.
Here are the newbies and traditional fair food that stood out and you should look for next year:
Funnel cake poutine (by Next Generation Concessions).
The 2017 Best New Savoury Food winner doesn’t disappoint. A true hybrid of classic powder-sugar-covered funnel cake and Quebec-style poutine featuring real cheese curds, the flavour blend inexplicably works.
Chili-lime popcorn shrimp perogies, and an honourble mention to the teriyaki perogies, too (from International Perogies).
These suped-up, sauced-out perogies are full of interesting, contrasting flavours and textures.
Cereal monster sandwiches (by Monster Cone).
When Rice Krispy squares meet three extra-creamy scoops of ice cream in a handful-of-a-sandwich built to share, you hunker down and get to business on this gigantic dessert.
Mounty Balls (from Bear Balls).
For those with a massive sweet tooth, this is the treat for you. Sugary deep-fried dough balls are generously covered in strawberry sauce, whipped cream and white chocolate chips.
Maple bacon mini-doughnuts (of Ogopogo Concessions).
Ask any Stampede regular about the most popular Midway food, and you’ll hear mini-doughnuts. Over and over. And over again. Now, slap on some maple-infused glaze with candied bacon and you’ve got the most delicious and perfectly Canadian mini-doughnuts — maybe of all time.
Barbecue ribs and pulled pork (from the Boss Hog’s stand).
Head toward the sounds of young and old alike getting thrown around by a mechanical bull to find yourself in BBQ heaven.
Bannock taco (from Bannock Booth).
Located in the Indian Village, traditional bannock bread gets a tasty reincarnation as a deconstructed taco. PRO TIP: Slice your bannock lengthwise like a bun and put all that taco goodness down the middle.
Rocky road raw cookie dough (by the Cookie Dough Truck YYC).
Don’t worry, it can’t make you sick. It’s designed to be eaten raw, and it’ll conjure up memories of licking the spoon as a kid when your mom made cookies.
Deep-fried lemonade (also by the Cookie Dough Truck YYC).
Hands-down my favourite food on the Midway. These geniuses take cubes of frozen lemonade, batter them up and deep-fry them to golden perfection before grating fresh lemon rind on top. Crispy on the outside with a super-moist burst of lemon on the inside.
OK, who’s hungry?