It’s time for funnel cakes, roosters, the scrambler, dart games, and the saddest “Fun House” ever at the annual Albemarle Fair. We headed there on opening night to get our fix of fried food and family fun. Everything was as we remembered it: the bottle top game was impossible, the kids sugar-hopped and excited, and the setting beautiful. Unfortunately, the food also remained sadly uninspiring.
For a fair that highlights what’s great about our community – agriculture, crafts, music – why doesn’t it highlight local food? With the exception of Pantheon Popsicles, the Charlottesville Mennonite Church’s Funnel Cake Booth, and Richmond’s Famous Dave’s BBQ chain, all the food seemed to be generic stands that travel across the country along with the ferris wheel and game stands. Remembering the sugar slush we had in previous years, we tried multiple stands promising “freshly squeezed lemonade” to find one that wasn’t a pre-mixed a sugary blend – no luck, and we didn’t see a lemon in sight. I was mildly tempted to try my first-ever fried pickle, but in the end all the food seemed too generic to pick anything over the nearby Dr. Ho’s.
I have nothing against good old fashioned unhealthy foods, but why can’t we make them hometown fried favorites for the county fair? For future fairs, I dream of an all-star county line-up with Riverside offering burgers, Downtown Hot Dog Company and Last Call dogs serving up dogs, a long line surrounding the Farmer’s Market taco truck, and Chaps ice cream making everything sweeter.