DeKALB – One of the highlights of any county fair is the food, and the Sandwich Fair is no different.
Walking through the fair will expose visitors to a wide variety of food, including hamburgers, hot dogs and lemonade shake-ups.
But other vendors offer less conventional food, such as deep-fried chocolate-covered bacon and deep-fried Oreo cookies at Chase’s Root Beer.
Chase manager Arie Molina described the deep-fried Oreos as “a little piece of heaven,” but said most people come to the stand to buy root beer.
“It’s a fun fair, it’s good for the business, and people like our products,” Molina said. “It’s a win-win situation for everybody.”
The first thing Judy Giese, 58, of Malta bought Thursday was a powdered cream puff from Rollin Pin Bakery.
She said it’s the closest thing she can get to a Wisconsin cream puff without having to drive to Milwaukee.
Giese said she likes to buy food from stands that are run by local nonprofits or charities.
“It’s a great way to support these local agencies when we’re dealing with tough economic times,” Giese said.
One such group is the Sandwich Sports Boosters, which was selling, among other things, pizza logs and Italian beef sandwiches to raise money for athletics at Sandwich High School.
Boosters President Brook McDonald said the items they buy for SHS student-athletes are to keep them safe, competitive and to have fun.
The boosters club has purchased a wide range of items for the high school’s athletic program, including video equipment for the coaches and getting new uniforms for some of the teams.
“It’s whatever the coaches and the teams need that the high school can’t buy with their budget,” McDonald said. “And it’s just a whole host of things.”
While there are plenty of people who eat and sell food at the fair, there are a number of people who cook competitively.
Michelle Johnson, 45, of Sandwich, and Cheryl Vath, 53, of Aurora, were two of the competitors in Thursday’s Beef Bonanza Culinary Competition.
Vath took first place in the beef competition with her healthy beef dish, which she said is the exact recipe from the Illinois Beef Association.
Vath said for the fair’s culinary competitions, she always makes something new and never tastes what she makes.
“It’s a little game I play with myself,” Vath said. “To see if I can take something from the cookbook and make it as is and bring it.”
Johnson’s dish, sweet and savory beef over garlic mashed potatoes, took second place.
But she took first in both of Wednesday’s competitions for quick bread and yeast bread. She said she’s submitted entries in all eight of the fair’s culinary competitions. And she does so because of tradition.
“I love to cook. I love to bake,” Johnson said. “It’s just a way of being close to home, showing that off.”