We Judged the SporkAward Dessert Competition at This Year's Dutchess County Fair

Check out these tasty treats and more at Rhinebeck’s summer staple.

Perhaps my clearest memory of the Dutchess County Fair as a child is being just shy of 12 years old, arguing with my Yiddish grandfather as he tried to sneak me past the ticket counter for free on an under-seven ticket. I was short, I insisted, not young and certainly not a cheat.

Thankfully for old Papa Charlie, I’m pretty sure the statute of limitation on that ran out in the mid-90s, and anyway kids under 11 now get in free. Yet it was with this glorious, moral uprightness that I ventured back to those hollowed fairgrounds as one of the guest judges at this year’s SporkAward, a grueling contest that pitted local and favorite snack vendors against each other to see whose fair fare was the fairest.

All of the below desserts and snacks are available for purchase, and if by chance you happen to disagree with the judges’ winner at the bottom, you can vote in the fan choice SporkRun competition via the Dutchess Fair App, or ask for a paper ballot at either of the fair’s information booths. The fan choice winner will be announced at 11 a.m. on Friday, August 25 outside the administration building.

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Scroll through to see all the desserts that competed this year, plus the winner.

Maple Bacon Funnel Cake from Hoffman’s PA Dutch Funnel Cakes

The “Tongue Twister” from Gillette SluchieWorks.
Sour Patch Slush mixed with Sour Gummy Worms, Sour Punch Straws, and topped with sour Jolly Ranchers. 


Salted Caramel Pretzel from Paula’s Pretzels

Italian Chocolate Temptation “Chocotini” by Scotties Choco Kebab:
A chocolate Italian dessert pita filled with chocolate gelato, shaved imported hazelnut chocolate, fresh berries, then topped with whipped cream, Nutella drizzle, pirouettes, and served in a martini glass.


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Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cannoli from Simply Cannoli.

Cinnamon-Raisin Fried Dough by Sugar Shakers

Caramel Apple Milkshake by Supreme Cream.
Classic vanilla ice cream bleanded with Granny Smith apples and chunks of caramel, topped with whipped cream and another caramel swirl.


“Grilled Cheesecake” by Red Hook’s Taste Budd’s Cafe.
Creamy cheesecake filling between grilled slices of lemon poundcake, served with a red berry sauce.


“Ragin’ Cajun Kettle Korn” by What’s Poppin Kettle Korn.
Out of Neversink, NY, this kettle corn is spiced as if it were straight out of the bayou.


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We’ve saved the best for last, just in case your arteries haven’t had enough just looking at these tasty treates. Hailing all the way out from Oneonta, Polar Bear Homemade Ice Cream brought their big guns out for the win with the Kettle Corn Ice Cream Pop:

“Pop” is playing it rather humbly. This behemoth is composed of homemade kettle corn ice cream sandwiched between two glazed doughnuts, dipped in chocolate and then rolled ineven more kettle corn. On a stick. (Because everyone knows the best fair food always comes on sticks. Seriously, sticks are 90% of the battle.)

New non-food additions to the fair this year include a brand new Welcome Center when you first enter the fairgrounds, various “Selfie Stations” with some opportune statuary, and the “AgriVenture” station where children can learn all about the farm-to-table life of the produce they eat.

Adults, meanwhile, can have fun right next door at the Hudson Valley Distillers tent, where local New York distillers including Hill Rock, Hetta spiced wine, and Awestruck Hard Cider sample and sell their delicious distillations.

And of course, there’s always an animal or a hundred to pet.

The Dutchess County Fair is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily from August 22-27. Tickets are available at the front gate.

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