A portrait of what works at a county fair isn't always told by the admission counter at the gate.
It's also told in the concert admissions sold, in the number of times an attraction goes round and round, in how many people donated helpful items, and, yep, how many 17-inch Big Ribs were consumed.
The Orange County Fair has now wrapped for another year -- collective "aw dang," everyone? Okay, moving on -- but the numbers of what sold and to what purpose fascinate us nearly as much as the shiny twinkly lights of the Ferris wheel. (Okay, we can stare slack-jawed at that for several minutes, truth be told.)
Here are a few fun facts: Over 12,000 veterans and active military entered the fair for free as part of the Salute to Heroes program. And over 79,000 fair attendees donated a school supply or canned food items and received a discount.
Now, about the aforementioned Big Rib, one of the headliner foods of this year's Costa Mesa-based extravaganza. Over 3,900 were sold in all -- impressive, given the dish's impressive size -- but here's something of interest: Just under one-third of the Big Ribs sold were packed to go home with the Big Rib buyer. In other words, they wanted that meat for home-eating. And the biggest to-go order? Twenty Big Ribs. Can you imagine that party? We hope the mega rolls of paper towels were out.
It's a bit fitting, to take the fair food home; after all, this year's theme was "Home Sweet Home." The 2012 OC Fair wrapped on Sunday, Aug. 12; watch this space for the 2013 dates.
The talk of the fair food circuit this year is the Big Beef Rib.
And it will be coming to the California State Fair.
The Big Beef Rib is two pounds of beef attached to a 17-inch beef rib bone, which is then slow smoked for about three hours and then finished over a mesquite fire.
It makes you forget about all the other foods-on-a-stick, when you’ve got a massive steak on a bone club.
“The first thing nine out of 10 people do is take a picture of it or have a picture taken of them with it,” said Dominic Palmieri, inventor of the Big Beef Rib.
Palmieri, who is based in Arizona, did six months of research to find a way to get a two-pound cut of USDA prime beef to adhere to the bone naturally.
He serves the rib with a doggie bag as a handle — just in case there are leftovers.
The booth has plastic forks and knives available, but most people chose not to use them, he said.
Palmieri debuted the Big Beef Rim at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo this year. He expected to get some attention with it, and maybe sell a few hundred over a couple days. He nearly sold out 750 in the first day.
“The thing just went viral,” he said. It was a strong showing, especially so in the face of its $16.95 price.
While the cost is on the high side, the calorie count is relatively low — for fair food — and it is lower in calories than a turkey leg, Palmieri said.
The California State Fair, which runs July 12 through July 29, this year will feature some new first-time rides. There will be a 600-foot zip line that carries four people at up to 35 miles per hour and a whitewater log flume ride.
A Mega Drop tower that was very popular last year is returning again.
There also will be several Guinness World Records attempts, including the World’s Largest Margarita. That 10,500-gallon beverage attempt will begin at 10 a.m. on July 13. And there will be an attempt at the longest Ferris wheel ride, beginning at 5 a.m. on July 23. The current record is 25 hours.
Mark Anderson covers banking, finance, accounting, technology, telecom, venture capital, hospitality, tourism and restaurants for the Sacramento Business Journal.
OMG! We conquered the big-*ss Rib Steak!! It was soooo good. We were able to order it right off the grill & medium rare without extra sauce! It costs about $16 and it feeds 2 people. It was perfect for the caveman and the cavegrrl… I am pretty sure we were the happiest couple at the fair sharing that big old hunk of meat!
And we landed in the wine garden (big surprise! ) with a mini picnic sponsored by one of my favorite food booths at the fair (conveniently located within the Wine Garden) Pignotti’s!! This year, they’re serving up my favorites again… the fruit plate, the salami plate, and the cheese plate. There’s also a meatball with pesto sauce that you should try.
Of course, we didn’t eat the bread on the plates, but I am showing
you what you will get on the plate when you order. You can probably ask
them to leave it off your plate entirely if you want. Here’s a little slide show of the must haves (especially when you are sipping those California State Fair Medal winners!!):
BY THE WAY!!!!!
Come out and see me tomorrow, (Friday, July 20th from 5-7pm!) In the California Food Building (where the permanent exhibit buildings are located).
I will be making bacon wrapped dates and a cocoa hazelnut spread served with bananas! And you will get to taste test them for FREE!! And maybe by tomorrow I will have figured out a catchy name for the hazelnut spread!
You’ll also get to meet my partner in crime, The Running Bum aka Andy aka caveman, and we’ll talk about Paleo, what we eat, our staple kitchen ingredients, and other fun recipes!!
And since we’re talking about food, here’s the latest press release with the 2012 Cooking Competition Results:
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (July 19) – The California State Fair announces winners of its California’s Kitchen challenges and competitions for adults, children and professional chefs.
Best of Show:
Jams & Jellies Show: Claudine Kelly of Orangevale, for Blueberry Pomegranate Jelly
Kidz Jams & Jellies Show: Ashley Olson of Kingsburg, for Strawberry Balsamic Thyme Jam
Soft Spreads & Fruit Show: David Conrad of Stinson Beach, for Bearss Lime Curd
Pickles, Relish, Sauce & Salsa Show: Joan Edelsohn of Moraga, for Blackberry Barbecue Sauce
Kidz Soft Spread, Fruit, Pickle & Sauce Show: Matthew Silvera of Sutter, for Pickled Green Beans
King Arthur Flour Cookie Contest in Kidz Kitchen:
First place: Lincoln Marks of Rancho Cordova, for Kettlecorn Cookies
Second place: Catherine Gallagher of Sacramento, for Almond Strawberry Tea Time Cookies
Third place: Kaitlyn Ripley of Carmichael, for King Arthur’s Cookies
Poppy’s Baby Cake Contest in Kidz Kitchen, sponsored by C&H Sugar:
First place: Lindsey Abernathy of Sacramento, for Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes
Second place: Madilyn Ripley of Carmichael, for Poppy’s Baby Cakes
Third place: Jamie Grgich of Elk Grove, for Marzipan Ladybug Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
Awards of Merit – Aysia Seals of Citrus Heights, for Aysia’s Rainbow Vanilla Cupcakes;
Demetrius Marshall of Sacramento, for Demetrius’ Out of this World Triple Chocolate Cupcakes;
Esther Ambrose of Galt, for Flower Power Poppy Baby Cakes, and
Evangeline Gardiner of Loomis, for Rainbow Cupcakes
Professional Chef Challenge
Preliminary rounds winners, who will compete in the finals 4-6 p.m. July 29:
Chef F.J. Villalobos, of 58 Degrees & Holding Co.
Chef Evan Elsberry, of Evan’s Kitchen
Chef Cecil Rhodes II, of Bella Bru Café Carmichael
DEEP-FRIED CREATIONS AND SAVORY BARBECUE WIN AT FOURTH-ANNUAL HOUSTON
LIVESTOCK SHOW AND RODEO™ GOLD BUCKLE FOODIE AWARDS — MARCH 1, 2012 —
HOUSTON — FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo commercial
exhibitors put their best food forward Thursday, March 1 for the fourth annual Gold Buckle Foodie
As aromas of fried food and fair classics flooded the Kids Country Stage, 29 local media celebrities
devoured the entries and ranked the food that best satisfied their taste buds.
“I run from being on the air to get to this event in time,” said Special K from 104.1 KRBE. “This is the
most delicious, delightful and appetizing event in rodeo history.”
So as to warn the judges of the amount of food they would be ingesting over the contest time, Gold
Buckle Foodie Awards announcer and Commercial Exhibits Committee volunteer Harry Miller was
quick to inform the judges that the contest is a marathon, not a sprint.
The judges were not afraid to point out their favorite foods throughout the event. Dubbed “Tater” by
a Commercial Exhibits Committee member, Dave Morales of Backstage OL took a special liking to
the baked potato entry.
“Think Christmas morning when you are opening the presents,” Morales said as he praised the
Another judge came prepared for the inevitable food-overdose by carrying a bottle of Pepto Bismol®
with her. Many were concerned about the effects of eating so much food at one time and took those
into account before arriving.
“I feel like I got ready for this yesterday,” Coppelia Rivera, KSBJ representative said. “I did an hour
Eight eateries were rewarded for their delectable entries by receiving a plaque, ribbon, a merchandise
gift certificate and the right to call themselves the 2012 Gold Buckle Foodie Award champions.
The winners are listed by category:
Best Breakfast Food: Burton Sausage — Classic Breakfast Taco
Best Value Food: Ranch House Meat Company — Pork Rib Plate
Best Food-on-a-Stick: Burger Joint RCS Carnival — The Big Rib
Classic Fair Food: Saltgrass Steakhouse — BBQ Pulled Pork Stuffed Baked Potato
Most Creative Food: Custom Confections — Lemon Cream Frosty Bite
Best Fried Food: Far Fix Trinity LLC — Fried Red Velvet Cake
Best New Flavor: Aunt Edmoe’s Cookies — Fried Cookie Dough on a Stick
Best Dessert: Stubby’s Cinnamon Roll — Cinnamon Roll with “The Works”
Show fans are invited to come out and participate in the “I Ate All Eight” competition which will
take place daily March 2 – 18. After eating each of the eight Gold Buckle Foodie Award-winning
entries listed above, a reward can be redeemed at the Show’s Social Media Hub located at the
southwest corner of the Main Arena in Hall C of Reliant Center. More information on the “I Ate All
Eight” contest can be found at www.rodeohouston.com/activites/food.aspx.
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is a Section 501(c)(3) charity that benefits youth, supports
education, and facilitates better agricultural practices through exhibitions and presentation. Since its
beginning in 1932, the Show has committed approximately $283 million to the youth of Texas. The
2012 Show continues through March 18. For tickets and more information, visit