The Best and Worst Fair Food for Your Summer

best and worst fair food benton county fair minnesota

The second half of the Minnesota summer brings with it a variety of city and county fairs, not to mention the annual Minnesota get-together from August 22 to September 2. With the Benton County fair starting on July 30 we took a look at some of the foods that will help keep your diet on track even while you eat your way through a fair.

Additionally, we will point out some of the iconic food you might want to avoid. But like anything, moderation is key to maintaining a healthy diet.


The Good

Corn on the Cob

This is the summer event go-to considering it is not unheard of to see corn on the cob at many events. Add in the fact that corn on the cob when served with handles, is relatively portable for your walk around the fairgrounds. Often time you can find the corn served with toppings (which vary in quality), but the biggest attribute to consider with corn is butter – keep that in check and you have yourself a great option.

Grilled Meat

Meat and fairs are a historic combination. While meat is a great source of protein, you will want to pay attention to how the meat is cooked. Deep-fried meats are definitely something to avoid, but grilled meats offer a great alternative. No matter if it is served on a sandwich or a stick, grilled meat should be relatively easy to find at your next fair.


This is a broad category, but there are two snacks in particular worth checking out: popcorn and roasted nuts. In the case of popcorn, the plainer the better as the more butter, salt, and other toppings you add the quicker popcorn turns into a dessert. Roasted nuts, on the other hand, are a great source of protein that also contains healthy fats.

The Bad

Deep-Fried (Fill in the blank)

Many people go to fairs for the wide variety of deep-fried foods that are available. Over the years America has deep-fried everything (including Oreo’s?) and it has become a staple of fairs. While these iconic fair foods may be tempting, the oils they are cooked in only add to the problem. However, as mentioned previously, it’s okay to try things in moderation.

Bulk Foods

Remember what we mentioned about moderation? Unless you are at the fair with a large group or have a way to keep food good on the way home, the large count barrels of food available at fairs may not be a good option. Once you are walking around a fair holding a container of over 20 cookies it becomes very difficult to not keep eating them. Avoid the temptation by dodging large quantities unless you have an adequate number of people to share them with.


Lemonade and pop (you would not call it soda at a Minnesota fair would you?) are widely available at many fairs. While drinking liquids is very important to stay hydrated at outdoor events like this, lemonade and pop are often not the way to do it. These beverages are loaded with sugar and hidden calories, making tea or water a great alternative for staying hydrated.