The arrival of August in Berks County means that fair and festival season is in full swing.
After neighboring Schuylkill and Lebanon Counties hold their fairs to close out July, the attention shifts to Berks County and the Reading Fair.
But once the last ride has been ridden, the last livestock has been judge, many of the same exhibitors pack up and head north to Kutztown for the annual Kutztown Fair.
“The Biggest Little Fair in the State” is how the organizers of the Kutztown Fair describe the event, which has had a 143-year run in northern Berks.
And while the fair has many of the same draws as Reading: free rides, grandstand shows, live music and agricultural exhibits, what sets the Kutztown Fair apart is the food.
Between the local granges, Lions Clubs and other organizations, there are dozens of delicious Dutch (and other) delicacies waiting inside the gates.
And no stand garners as much attention during fair week as the Kutztown Lions Club with their deep-fried specialty: Dutch Fries.
Essentially French fries that are cut like potato chips (or is it potato chips that are cooked like French fries?), Dutch Fries are not a side dish as much as they are a required component of the meal.
Sliced extra thin, the fries come out hot and soaked in oil. The irregular shape and size means that some will crisp up while others remain soft. But no matter how you slice them, Dutch fries are greasy and great.
It’s a happy coincidence that the Lions Club stand also serves hot sausage sandwiches. The links are sliced length-wise and grilled flat, then piled with diced peppers and onions and loaded with marinara sauce. Though the sauce is nothing special, the sausage and other toppings make up for it to create a delicious sidekick for the Dutch fries.
Another favorite can be found at the Kutztown Fire Company stand. That’s where they are serving up the one-of-a-kind grilled sweet bologna sandwich.
Unlike the thin slices at the grocery store, the bologna is cut thick, more like a pork roll. The extra large patties are grilled and topped with cheese. Something about grilling them brings out even more flavor in the flavors that are lost when the bologna is served as a cold cut. It’s a great change of pace from the run-of-the-mill hamburgers you find along most midways.
And when you’re finished with dinner, there’s plenty to keep you entertained.
The track bustles all week with micro sprint racing, demolition derby and fireworks. The stage is filled with local bands performing the best in rock and country music. And then there is Kutztown’s answer to Reading’s tractor pull, the kids’ pedal tractor pull.
The 2014 tagline was “Love-A-Fair.” It’s a cute play on words, but not too far from the truth. I love the Kutztown Fair. But my real love affair is with the food.