In photos: NC Mountain State Fair, not just funnel cakes

The NC Mountain State Fair brings more to the table than just corn dogs and funnel cakes. (Hayley Benton/Mountain Xpress)

In a world where deep-fried cauliflower and deep-fried Oreos exist together in the same plexiglass display case, the North Carolina Mountain State Fair brings folks together to sample all sorts of (often deep-fried) culinary experiments.

Ride the rides? Sure. But maybe wait a bit after trying a deep-fried cheeseburger-on-a-stick from D&J Consessions.

“We have a lot of crazy fried food,” says Matthew Varnadoe, manager of the D&J tent at the fair. “We do everything from deep-fried PB&J sandwiches to cookie dough to deep-fried cheesecake.

“This year we brought deep-fried cheeseburgers, which will hopefully be a hit,” he continues. “What we do is, we take cheeseburgers and, instead of using the bun, we take corndog batter and kind of use that as the bread.”

And fairs are well-known for their creativity when it comes to fried food. Want deep-fried batter smothered in confectioners sugar and topped with chocolate? The fair has got you covered.

Go ahead, eat the waffle dogs. Just make sure your stomach is settled before riding the rides. The people below you will thank you. (Hayley Benton/Mountain Xpress)
Go ahead, eat the waffle dogs. Just make sure your stomach is settled before riding the rides. The people below you will thank you. (Hayley Benton/Mountain Xpress)

“A lot of these ideas come to us when we have bad weather or shows that are slow,” Varnadoe says. “We’re just kind of sitting around kind of knocking ideas around. I think we’re just always looking for something different. We’re always coming up with ideas, like the Krispy Kreme burger, adding the sweet doughnut with the salty bacon. People just try to see what we come up with, and I think they just enjoy different things — not the same old steak and cheese (though it’s very good) and funnel cakes.

“But, I mean, a deep-fried Reese’s is amazing. You put it in the cake batter, and the chocolate and the peanut butter just kind of all melt together and collide.”

But if you’re looking for an alternative to satisfy your sweet tooth — something other than fried candy bars or the tried-and-true fairground funnel cakes, try out a kürtőskalács.

“A what?”

Sweet Spiral Cakes sells a Hungarian dish that rivals the doughy sweetness of the American fairground staple. Standing upright and baked around a wooden rolling pin-like rod, the sweet cakes let off heat when separated from the utensil that gives them their shape, giving them the nickname “chimney cakes.”

“A spiral cake is a Hungarian traditional cake,” says Mihaly Pollak, who was busy rolling out dough in a long, skinny line before spiraling it around a wooden rolling pin and letting it bake. “Inside, it’s soft and outside it’s soft — like bread. And the tastes are very complex but not the same as sweet bread, not the same as funnel cake. It’s a special taste, and it’s very good — sweet but not too sweet.”

And, he says, the cakes come in five different flavors, sugar-glazed, coconut, pecan, almond and a mix.

“The mix is every five tastes all together,” he says, mentioning the Hungarian dish was traditionally used just for weddings. And when you pull the dough, it releases in a spiral, with the soft, doughy interior melting in your mouth.

From turkey legs to ribs, funnel cakes to kürtőskalács, deep-fried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to “waffle dogs,” the Mountain State Fair satisfies the culinary curiosities of the 9-year-old in all of us.

The fair opened Friday, Sept. 5, at the Western North Carolina Agricultural Center and runs through Sunday, Sept. 14. For more information, visit

Take a look at our photos of the Mountain State Fair here:

(Hayley Benton/Mountain Xpress)


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Hayley Benton
Current freelance journalist and artist. Former culture/entertainment reporter at the Asheville Citizen-Times and former news reporter at Mountain Xpress. Also a coffee drinker, bad photographer, teller of stupid jokes and maker-upper of words. I can be reached at hayleyebenton [at] Follow me @HayleyTweeet

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.