The Sporkies, for the uninitiated, is a culinary contest held annually at the State Fair. Vendors at the fair craft bold and delicious meals that embody the deep-fried spirit of the Fair and enter them into competition against each other. Judges choose a winner, who will receive the coveted 13-foot Spork trophy, which is displayed outside of their shop during the fair.
“I’ve been going to the State Fair since the year I got here,” says Nicksin, who moved to Milwaukee in 2016. “I campaigned to be a Sporkies judge, and it’s an honor and the culmination of a Wisconsin dream of mine.”
Instead of the usual public judging at the Fair, the judges are meeting beforehand on Aug. 3 to try the dishes.
This year, the lineup of finalists is stacked:
- Cinnamon Roll and Bacon Cheese Curds
- Deep-Fried Pineapple Express (pineapple rings rolled in coconut and panko breading and deep-fried)
- Deep-Fried Wisconsin Fish Fry (“all the traditional elements of a famous Wisconsin Fish Fry rolled together and deep-fried”)
- Glazy Boy (a grilled donut sandwich with two slices of Fontina cheese, pork loin, raspberry whole grain mustard, and pickled jalapeños)
- Paradise Po’ Boy (deep-fried coconut shrimp on a bed of homemade slaw)
- Peanut Butter Squealers (A breakfast sausage baked inside a Belgian waffle, smothered in peanut butter, topped with bacon and served on a stick)
- Polish Puppies On-a-Stick (deep fried hush puppies stuffed with sauteed onions, sauerkraut, Klement’s Jalepeno Polish and cheddar cheese)
- Sorrentina Bites (ditalini pasta with three Italian cheese, breaded)
“Fried food tends to make me lightheaded, so I may need someone to drag me home from this judging ,” Nicksin says. “I can’t say there’s a favorite yet. It’s hard to judge sweet against savory. The proof will be in the pudding.”
Sporkies winners will be announced on Aug. 4, the day before the Fair opens, and you can try out the dishes from Aug. 5-15 at the State Fair.