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State Fair vendors to compete first annual food competition

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WEST ALLIS (WITI) – Unique and unusual new foods are commonplace at the Wisconsin State Fair, but this year the selection has risen to a new level with the introduction of the Fair’s First Annual Food Competition, “The Sporkies.”

Eight finalists have been selected from over 40 entries, and a panel of celebrity judges will choose the winner of three Golden Spork Awards on Tuesday, July 30. All submissions will be available for purchase at the Wisconsin State Fair, presented by U.S. Cellular®, which will take place Thursday, Aug. 1 through Sunday, Aug. 11.

The inaugural Sporkies Competition has promoted creativity and ingenuity among Fair food vendors, who were encouraged to add some flair and pizzazz to their entries. To be considered for the competition, vendors had to submit a new food item as well as a detailed description, ingredient list and photos. Vendors were challenged to create the most inventive and exotic culinary creations they could engineer.

An internal panel of Wisconsin State Fair Park employees conducted the preliminary judging based on a rigid scorecard with three judging criteria – Appearance & Presentation, Creativity & Originality and Presumed Taste.

The eight finalists include: Cajun Mac-n-Cheese (Tropics at the Fair), Deep Fried Peanut Butter & Bacon Nuggets with Berry Weiss Jelly (Saz’s), Iced Irish Coffee Float (Slim McGinn’s Irish Pub), Mac Attack (West Allis Shrine Club), Mela Fritta Gelato On-a-Stick (La Coppa Gelato), Rasta Shrimp Sliders (Tropics at the Fair), “Slaw-Tered” Chicken (Island Noodles), and the Thanksgiving Waffle (Slim McGinn’s West).

A panel of celebrity judges will taste, deliberate and eventually choose winners in each of the following categories: “Best Tasting,” “Most Creative” and “Grand Champion.” The celebrity judges for the Sporkies are:

  • Joe Bartolotta, Milwaukee Restaurateur
  • Gilbert Brown, Super Bowl Champion and Green Bay Packer Hall of Famer
  • Nick Chipman, Food Blogger and Founder of DudeFoods.com
  • Madeline Henry, Assistant Director of Constituent Services for Governor Scott Walker
  • Andy Tarnoff, Publisher, Founder and Owner of OnMilwaukee.com

The final judging and presentation of The Golden Spork Award for each of the three categories will take place Tuesday, July 30 at the Bank Mutual Amphitheater at Wisconsin State Fair Park. Judging will begin at 1:00 p.m. and will be open to the media, as well as special guests by invite-only.

The Wisconsin State Fair, presented by U.S. Cellular, will take place Thursday, Aug. 1 through Sunday, Aug. 11.