Deep-fried butter is coming back to the Elkhart County 4-H Fair.
Bacon will be easier to find at the fairgrounds than the pigs that produce it, though they'll be there too.
But the biggest food news coming to the Elkhart County 4-H Fair may be the arrival of a food truck from one of the county's popular Mexican taquerias.
Jesus Rojas took over Ricky's Taqueria on Feb. 14, 2005. Since then, the place won Burrito Quest, a search for Elkhart County's best burrito, and has become immensely popular at 57995 C.R. 9, Elkhart.
Last year, there were rumors of a Ricky's truck at the fair, but it didn't happen.
But this spring, Rojas and two friends turned a beat-up box truck into a gorgeous new mobile food truck over the last several months.
The kitchen inside has two grills, four sinks, an air conditioner, cooler, and hot and cold food storage areas.
Rojas and eight employees will serve tacos, burritos and a few other items at the fair, which starts Friday, July 19, and continues through July 27, at 11746 C.R. 34, Goshen.
Rojas is also working on a deal to buy property next to the restaurant in Elkhart and build a new one with more parking, but first comes the fair.
The new truck will be near Kiddieland, according to Tim Yoder, fair concessions director. It's one of the few entirely new units among the 80 at this year's fair. There's also a Dr. Vegetable booth that will fry vegetables, but it replaces another that did that.
The Best Around Concessions booth that had deep-fried butter in 2010 is bringing it back due to requests for it, Yoder said.
“There's no need for that,” said Mary Ann Lienhart-Cross, Elkhart County Extension director. But other people are curious. If you haven't had it, it's a bit of dough with a sweet, butter goosh when you bite into it.
A number of vendors are adding bacon to their offerings. The Elkhart County Pork Producers will also offer bacon on any sandwich.
I would simply ask what took them so long.
Here are other new food items:
Bacon-flavored caramel corn
What is it? Just like it sounds.
Where? Pence booths near the main gate and the Pie Pantry on Food Row.
Maple bacon funnel cake
What is it? A funnel cake with bacon in it topped with maple icing and bits of bacon. Yoder came up with the idea with Mike Pence after a run at 2 a.m. in Las Vegas. “Your mind wanders and you come up with these wild and crazy ideas.”
Where: The McGrath family's funnel cake booths near the grandstand and on the north end of Food Row.
Deep-fried jelly beans and peanut butter
What is it? The next step in a quest to fry whatever possible at a fair. It joins fried fruits and other items at the Pence booth.
Where: Next to the Ferris wheel.
Nine flavors of corn dogs
What is it: Louie Pacifico's corn dog booth will offer a flavor of the day. They've been experimenting with Fritos, jalapeño and sausage. Licorice was ruled out after tasting, Yoder said.
Where: Corn dog booths near the main gate (look for the giant corn dog) and Gate G, the gate most people enter through on the east side of the fairgrounds.
Pineapple Dole Whip
What is it? A frothy drink like that served at the Indiana State Fair.
Where: 4-H Rabbit Club's Bunny Hut on the north end of Food Row.
Honey's Frozen Yogurt
What is it? Frozen yogurt from the Goshen store at Linway Plaza.
Where: 4-H Goat Club's booth in the middle of Food Row.
More sausage flavors
What is it? Louie Pacifico will offer some variations at an “international sausage stand,” according to Yoder.
Where: Next to the Elkhart County Pork Producers on Food Row.
Lemon Shake-up Cup
What is it? Buy a 32-ounce lemon shake-up cup for $6 and get $4 refills.
Where: 4-H Lamb Club's booth on Food Row
Double lamb burger
What is it? Just like it sounds, but it's in honor of the late Carson Lantis, former fair president and Lamb Club volunteer.
Where: 4-H Lamb Club's booth
There are a few other new things here and there, including some tater tots in bacon in cheese at a Pacifico booth. Other new items may emerge as the week does.
I wish that the Goshen Noon Kiwanis Booth had a new item on its menu. I'll be there cooking with fellow Kiwanians. And a new item would stir some new interest. But we'll just serve our steak burgers and sweet corn.
You can find salads, pie and plenty of other great food at the fair. I'm prepared for a bit of sticker shock. Yoder said prices have gone up 50 cents to $1 on some items. “They've all tried really hard to keep their prices in a family environment that are conducive,” he said.
But food prices have risen and the recession has receded a bit. And the fair does take its 15 percent cut from all vendors' sales as part of what it needs to put on the giant event.
I love the fair and its food. I'll be out there eating. Hope to see you there.
I'm hungry. Let's eat.
Marshall V. King is managing editor and food columnist for The Elkhart Truth. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org, 574-296-5805, via Twitter and Instagram @hungrymarshall or the [URL]Dining A La King Facebook pag;http://facebook.com/diningalaking[URL]e. His blog is at blogs.etruth.com/diningalaking.[/URL]