Missing The State Fair
Comments (1)Posted by Erica Dermer
I’ll admit it. I really wish I could try out a deep-fried Oreo. And I’d really like to try a deep-fried Snickers. I eat a mostly clean diet – lots of healthy fruits, vegetables, low-fat proteins, no red meat, etc. However, I do love my gluten-free cookies, cupcakes, and pies (and totally not ashamed about it). Since the fair is a once-a-year experience, I figured that eating these unhealthy foods once a year could potentially still fit into a healthy diet. But, alas – I am a celiac. Since 99.9% of these fair foods are fried with gluten-containing ingredients like white flour, or the food being friend is gluten-full (like the Oreo), it’s pointless to even see if there’s something I can eat at the fair. I haven’t been to a fair since I’ve been gluten-free, but I have been to outdoor events that host the fair-type booths like the “deep fried” ones found at a large fair. The smell of deep-fried everything left me feeling sad. Sad, and a bit nauseated.
However, one organization is giving me hope for the future of our fairs. The Celiac Center of Minnesota is working with the Minnesota State Fair – which is a huge deal since the fair is so giant (over 1.7 million people last year).
Not only will this team (along with the help of others in the great Minnesota celiac community) put together a list that highlights any gluten-free food found at the vendor booths of the huge fair, but they also helped organized a table that will be distributing prepackaged food samples with people who come to the booth.
Surprisingly there are vendors at the Minnesota state fair that serve gluten-free items. Julie Salato, director of the Celiac Center for Minnesota and her team received 43 replies from vendors with an item that can be made gluten-free/is gluten-free – out of around 245 letters to all the state fair vendors. It was surprising – and exciting – to see that one of the vendors even featured a beer-battered brat!
“We know all of the elements that must be gluten free to pull that off! This vendor is using Bard’s gluten-free beer, a gluten-free brat, gluten-free batter mix and has a separate fryer with oil for frying!”
Julie hopes that one day in the not too distant future, the fair will even start to provide gluten-free versions of her own favorites – like Pronto Pup, cheese curds or mini donuts! She of all people understands how torturous those delicious fair smells can be to someone who has to eat gluten free!
Besides the list of gluten-free food available, there will also be a celiac-focused booth. This booth will have gluten-free packaged good samples to show the community what is available in the gluten-free marketplace (even if they can’t find it in their local stores).
“The booth will be there to educate on what eating gluten free means, great gluten-free resources in our area, what celiac and gluten sensitivity are, and why you should be tested for celiac first. Over the last 6 years or so, this booth has helped not only educate people who live gluten free, but it has raised awareness with the general public, with the Minnesota State Fair and its vendors.”
This venture was no small feat. The team had to put the list together, organize the gluten-free awareness booth, rally sponsors, and recruit more than 100 volunteers to staff the 12 days of the fair. With the Celiac Center of Minnesota, Twin Cities ROCK (Raising Our Celiac Kids) and others involved – this is an amazing endeavor that deserves a pat on the back to everyone involved.
Next time you’re at the fair, think about the Minnesota State Fair and all of the hard work the team put into helping gluten-free people navigate the fair. Has this inspired anyone to do the same for their own fair? How will you navigate your own state fair and find safe food?