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Savory tastes, sweet treats; Fair offers plethora of food options

Those looking for a unique dining option this week have a whole street of unique and original options at the Mower County Fair. Whether it’s a sweet treat or hearty meal, everyone can find something to satisfy their taste buds.

Walking around the fairgrounds can be a tiring task, but Wild West Soda has many options to quench people’s thirst. Gary Clark, owner of the food cart, offers drinks made with 100 percent pure cane sugar, along with other “good ingredients.”

He opts to not use corn syrup in his drinks like other companies, although using natural pure cane sugar is a bit pricier.

“I’d rather have a really good product and deliver something different,” Clark said.

Recipes for the drinks have been passed down from generation to generation, like the sarsaparilla soda, but new flavors have been continually added also. The cherry limeade is a recent addition to the menu, which boasts sweet fruity flavors with a lime and cherries on top. Clark described the sarsaparilla as “the grand-dad of root beer.” It’s made the same way as root beer, but has more of a licorice flavor.

So far this week, Clark has gotten a good response about the sodas.

“Once people try these drinks, they keep coming back,” he’s said.

The stand is based out of Texas, but Clark thinks the people of Minnesota make it worth the trip.

“We love the Minnesota fairs because the people are so friendly,” he said.

The fair midway also boasts a lot of hometown flavors too. Faye’s Concessions has been serving funnel cakes, fried chips and potatoes and fruit smoothies for 37 years in Austin. According to owner Faye Pedersen, they were the first ones to bring funnel cakes to southeast Minnesota.

These aren’t your typical funnel cakes, however. The recipe was passed down to her from her grandmother and new toppings have been added throughout the years. Faye’s granddaughter came up with the Snickers funnel cake, which it topped with whipped cream and bits of Snickers. Other flavors include strawberry, chocolate and pecan delight.

“It’s something very different from normal funnel cakes,” Pedersen said.

Faye never expected the business to get this big, but they’re grateful for their dedicated customers who come back year after year.

“It’s really grown into a bigger business than I ever thought it would be,” Pedersen said.

Decades have passed since they first opened, but Pedersen doesn’t have plans to retire anytime soon. She likes the family business and working together to run it.

“It’s home to us,” she said. “We love being here.”

Other food vendors are experiencing the Mower County Fair for the first time. Bubba’s Fried Chicken offers “truly Southern” chicken and fried food, which owner Hardy White thinks is a game changer.

“I tell customers, ‘If you give me 15-20 minutes, I’ll change the way you think about chicken,’” White said.

One of their most popular items is the loaded bowl, which comes with two pieces of fried chicken and “JoJo” potato wedges, smothered in nacho cheese.

Just a few food trucks down, Rob’s Rib Shots also offers a savory meal in a bowl. The boneless ribs and topped with barbecue sauce in a bowl and have seen repeat customers from last year.

“It was successful for us [last year],” manager Bruce Nelson said.

Other menu items include stadium brat bites and mac and cheese bites.

The Mower County Fair runs through Sunday.