We Judged the SporkRun at the Dutchess County Fair

Take a peek at all the tastiest treats to eat in Rhinebeck this year.


Tuesday kicked off the first day of the Dutchess County Fair and, soon after the gates opened, the third annual SporkRun competition commenced. The contest challenges participating concessionaires to create a new dish to serve fairgoers.

Last year’s theme was desserts, and our Digital Editor, Dave Zucker, ate his way through funnel cake, gelato, and punch slushies to determine which sweet reigned supreme. The theme for 2018 was main dishes, and competitors did not pull punches when crafting their entries.

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You’re probably thinking the life of a Spudge (festival slang for “SporkRun Judge”) is all glitz and glam, but those honored with the distinction face the unenviable task of selecting the best fair food based on appearance, taste, and uniqueness. It’s a tall order, but someone has to make the hard decisions. This year, the panel of Spudges also sported a regal accessory in recognition of their discerning palates. 


The Coveted Spudge Crown / photo by Steve Fowler


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Lucky for fairgoers, all SporkRun participants will sell their creations throughout the week. While the Spudges have chosen their winner, the people’s choice is still up for grabs. Download the Dutchess County Fair app and vote for your favorite dish by “liking” it. Here’s a glimpse at some of the entrants:


Bang Bang Chicken by K & D Deli: Lightly battered chicken topped with fresh bacon, hot peppers, and a spicy sauce / photo by Samantha Fowler


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Mega Grecian Platter by Grecian Delights: Gyro slices, grilled chicken, and pork kebab with veggie rice, vegetables, Greek salad, and pita / photo by Samantha Fowler


Bacon-Mac N’ Cheese Burger by J & S Concessions Burgerworks: 6 oz burger on brioche with cheddar, bacon, mac n’ cheese, topped with cheddar cheese sauce / photo by Samantha Fowler


Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeño Cheddar Dog by Maxwells Sausage & Foot Long Hot Dogs: Foot-long beef hot dog stuffed with jalapeño and cheddar cheese, all wrapped up in bacon / photo by Samantha Fowler


“Sporky the Piggie Mac” Potato Pancake by Scotties Good Food: Potato pancake piled high with pulled pork, mac n’ cheese, crispy onions, topped with Scotties’ BBQ sauce / photo by Samantha Fowler


Mediterranean Burger by Sugar Shakers — Nick & Bennies: burger with feta and leafy greens / photo by Samantha Fowler


Who took home the crown? That would be Brian Gillette of Gillette’s Pizza in Oneonta for their Bacon Mac N’ Cheese Calzone. He starts with his restaurant’s pizza dough, which is stuffed with diced hickory bacon, homemade mac n’ cheese, and mozzarella. The dough pocket is then baked until golden brown and served with pizza sauce.


Photo by Steve Fowler


Gillette emphasized balance when asked about his winning dish. He advised against overdoing it on the bacon, and recommended using a 50-50 mix of mac n’ cheese and mozzarella. The champ gave credit where credit was due, however, thanking his daughter Peyton for coming up with the dish. He then rushed off to tend to his booth.


Photo by Samantha Fowler

Related: What’s Cooking at the Dutchess County Fair

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