The Hippo


Jun 4, 2020








Where to find fair food

Check out some of the bigger fairs, festivals and Old Home Days coming up in New Hampshire.
Hopkinton State Fair
A Labor Day weekend tradition since 1915, featuring a variety of livestock exhibits, live entertainment, a midway and more.
When: Friday, Sept. 2, to Sunday, Sept. 4, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Monday, Sept. 5, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: 392 Kearsarge Ave., Contoocook
Cost: $10 for kids and adults ages 10 and up; free for kids under 10.
Sandown Old Home Day Fall Festival
Featuring a chili cook-off, a beer and wine tent, a pie eating contest, a children’s bike parade, and the first ever bed races.
When: Friday, Sept. 9, and Saturday, Sept. 10, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Edward C. Garvey Recreational Building, 25 Pheasant Run Drive, Sandown
Cost: Free admission
Hillsborough County Agricultural Fair
Featuring a special King Arthur flour baking contest, in addition to the traditional 4-H exhibits and animal displays, pulling events, vendors and more.
When: Friday, Sept. 9, noon to 9 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 10, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday, Sept. 11, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Where: 15 Hill Dale Lane, New Boston
Cost: $10 general admission; $5 for kids ages 6 to 12, seniors ages 65 and older, and active military veterans; free for kids ages 6 and under
Rochester Fair
A full week of festivities that will include a livestock exhibit and demolition derby, carnival rides, a “giraffic” park, tractor pulls, craft demonstrations and more.
When: Friday, Sept. 16, to Sunday, Sept. 25 (times vary; see website)
Where: 72 Lafayette St., Rochester
Cost: $14 for adults; free for kids under 36” in height
Hooksett Old Home Day
A full day of community fun and entertainment that will include a pizza eating contest, a watermelon eating contest and a pie eating contest, as well as dozens of rides, craft and food vendors and much more. A barbecue featuring chicken, ribs and pulled pork will be served from noon to 5 p.m.
When: Saturday, Sept. 17, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Where: Donati Park, 35 Main St., Hooksett
Cost: Free admission
Deerfield Fair
Featuring a horse show, a sheep and wool show, dog agility competitions, and dozens of food and craft vendors.
When: Thursday, Sept. 29, to Sunday, Oct. 2 (times vary; see website)
Where: Route 43, Deerfield
Cost: $10 for kids and adults ages 13 and older; free for kids ages 12 and under
Sandwich Fair
An annual Columbus Day weekend tradition featuring several animal shows, log skidding and team wagon competitions, an antique auto show and parade, and dozens of local food vendors.
When: Saturday, Oct. 8, to Monday, Oct. 10, festivities start at 8 a.m. each day.
Where: Route 109 North, Center Sandwich
Cost: $10 for adults; $3 for kids ages 8 to 12; free for kids ages 7 and under

Fried everything
Dough and doughnuts, pickles and Twinkies

By Ryan Lessard

 If there’s one place you can count on to find all kinds of deep fried, greasy delights, it’s a New Hampshire fair.

Fried dough
A staple fair food, the lumpy, sugar-coated disc of bread is recognizable to almost any American nowadays. While Midwesterners know it as an elephant ear and Canadians call it a beaver tail, New Englanders know it simply as fried dough. 
The tasty — and heavy in calories — snack is made by dropping risen yeast dough into a deep fryer. It emerges warm, bubbly and toasty brown and is often served with powdered sugar or other sweet toppings. 
Edward “Bucky” Cofferin, a fried foods vendor at several New Hampshire fairs, thinks fried dough is the most quintessential fried food at fairs. 
“There’s so many fried dough stands everywhere. It’s been around for years,” Cofferin said. 
How it entered the dietary requirements of state fairs is unclear, but its history is said to go back to the Navajo natives after they were forced by the federal government to relocate from their reservation in Arizona to eastern New Mexico in 1864, according to the Smithsonian. One of the consequences of the “Long Walk of the Navajo” was that they couldn’t grow their traditional crops in the new land, so the government gave them white flour, processed sugar and lard — the basic ingredients in what the Navajo call frybread.
Cider doughnuts
Another type of fried dough is the doughnut. But it wouldn’t be a New England fall fair without incorporating apples in some way. Enter the cider doughnut. 
“I think it’s just a fall-time favorite. You think of fall, you think of warm apple cider, apple crisp, apple picking,” said Pat’s Cider Donuts co-owner Danielle Calkins.
Calkins and her brother Daryl Houle are part of an apple-fair-foods dynasty following in the footsteps of their parents’ Pat’s Apple Crisp business, which sets up shop at the Hopkinton Fair and beyond. 
The siblings opened Pat’s Cider Donuts in 2007 with a permanent booth at the Deerfield Fair and later a mobile concession trailer at other fairs in the years that followed. 
Today their doughnuts can be found at the Hillsborough County Fair, Sandwich Fair and fairs in neighboring states like Maine. 
Calkins said they use antique doughnut-making machines from the 1950s and 1970s that they recover from old New England barns and restore. 
She said half the fun of ordering a cider doughnut at her stand is watching the machines in action.
“It drops the doughnut into the grease, it sends it down — it’s almost like a conveyor belt — sends it down, actually flips the doughnut over itself and sends it completely down, cooking it the whole way to a turntable at the end,” Calkins said.
One day, seeing the long lines and no easy way to speed up the process, she decided to make it easier for people to peek behind the curtain and spend their time waiting mesmerized by the Willy Wonka-esque contraptions. So she set up plexiglass windows all around and even placed bales of hay that small children can climb upon so they can see.
“I think it’s really important to maintain that entertainment level for the folks to be able to actually see the doughnut machine and see them being made,” Calkins said.
The selection of fried fair foods doesn’t begin and end with bread, of course. Cofferin operates a booth called Bucky’s Famous Fried Pickles, named for one of the more off-the-wall yet tasty fried foods he sells. He was at the recent Cheshire County Fair and will be at Hopkinton, Hillsborough County and Sandwich.
He sells fried meats like chicken tenders and chicken on a stick, wrapped in bacon. But he is also known for his fried vegetables. He sells deep-fried squash and zucchini chips, and his fried green beans are eaten like french fries. 
“The green beans are fresh out of the garden, washed and then cooked,” Cofferin said.
His fried pickles are like the small sandwich chips with the wavy ruffles one can buy at the grocery store.
“My daughter [invented them] probably 17 years ago just messing around at a fair,” Cofferin said. 
After a few more experiments, he later improved the recipe.
“I mix some other stuff with the dry batter and it changes the whole taste to the dill pickle. It has its own unique taste,” Cofferin said.
But since it’s taken off in popularity, Cofferin said others have tried to duplicate his success and he’s sometimes selling fried pickles right next to another vendor selling fried pickles.
“When I started it, nobody was selling them at the fairs up here. Then all of a sudden everybody started,” Cofferin said.
Novelty fads
Deep-frying foods is nothing new, so it can be difficult to invent a fried snack that’s unique — “Because you can get a fried whatever at every corner,” Calkins said.
Still, there’s no shortage of people trying to come up with the newest fried novelty.
“At the Texas state fair, you go down there and everything’s deep fried,” Cofferin said. “They deep fry everything; apple pies, strawberry shortcake, whatever.”
He’s seen deep-fried butter, which is made by coating cold balls of butter with batter and breading.
“It’s not something I’d eat every day,” Cofferin said.
In New Hampshire, Cofferin has seen vendors selling deep-fried Twinkies and candy bars.
Calkins recalls some years ago when she heard about someone selling deep-fried Kool-Aid. She had to check it out. But when she did, she was disappointed to learn it was just fried dough with Kool-Aid powder packets mixed into the dough.
“So all it was was Kool-Aid-flavored fried dough pieces,” Calkins said.
While they may not always be healthy, deep-fried foods appear to be here to stay, and New Hampshire fairs promise a heart-stopping selection. 

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