One of the most fun things to do at the Minnesota State Fair is to try the new foods and exclusive beers. This year, the fair featured 31 new foods and 53 new beverages, so we set out to try a few and let you know what you should get and what you should skip.

Cotton Candy Milkshake IPA

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The Cotton Candy Milkshake IPA by Big Woods Brewery, a new exclusive beer at the State Fair.

Maddie: I’m not usually an IPA fan, and I’ll pass on cotton candy unless I’m at the Minnesota State Fair, where paying $10 for sugary air is pretty much a rite of passage. But if anything can convert me to becoming an IPA-lover and cotton candy tolerator, it’s this pink drink from my hometown brewery in White Bear Lake. The cotton candy sugar on the rim of the cup added the perfect amount of sweetness to the beer’s smooth and rich flavor. Maybe unicorns are real, after all.

Melissa: I love a good IPA, and I think when drinking beer at the Minnesota State Fair you should focus on drinking the gimmicky beers concocted by our local breweries — this beer was perfect for it, and it tasted good. Sometimes I don’t like sipping on IPAs when it’s hot outside or while walking around the State Fair, but the cotton candy sugar around the rim of the glass helped cut the bitterness of the IPA, making it a great beer to drink at the fair. I would totally get it again.

Cheesy Sriracha

Funnel Cake Bites

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The Cheesy Sriracha Funnel Cake Bites from Funnel Cakes at the Minnesota State Fair.

Maddie: I was skeptical when we walked up to the Funnel Cakes stand to order something without powdered sugar or whipped cream on top. But I’m glad we did. These savory bites had the delicious greasiness of State Fair cheese curds and a subtle richness that paired perfectly with the sriracha aioli. For fairgoers who can only stomach a few cheese curds at a time, try these cheesy funnel cake bites instead.

Melissa: I thought this was going to be fantastic for the first bite, but be too much after that. I was completely wrong. The crunchy, cheese-infused, deep-fried bites of funnel cake were delicious and not too rich. They were delicious dunked in the sriracha aioli or plain. Maddie and I were happy to gobble up this fair food, and admitted we could have eaten an order by ourselves.

Grilled Sota Sandwich

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Maddie: Perhaps fairgoers who are dairy-free and/or gluten-free would appreciate this sandwich more than I did. But the only thing I could say about Grilled Sota sandwich is — well — it’s a fancy name for a toasted peanut butter and jelly sandwich on gluten-free bread. If I wanted a PB and J, I would have packed one in my purse, and added far more jelly.

Melissa: I was very intrigued to try this new fair food from Brim, a new vendor at the fair, because it had gotten good reviews and our readers voted for us to try this. Well, I was disappointed. The Grilled Sota Sandwich was just a toasted peanut butter and jelly sandwich that I’d rather just make at home than pay $9 for one at the fair.

We Tried It is Southwest News Media’s new monthly food series where newsroom members Maddie Debilzan and Melissa Turtinen try fun, unique food or drinks and give their honest reviews. Have an idea for what they should try next? Drop a line to Melissa at

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Melissa Turtinen, left, and Maddie Debilzan take a sip of the Cotton Candy Milkshake IPA at the Minnesota State Fair.

Melissa Turtinen is the community editor for Lakeshore Weekly News and Eden Prairie News. She's passionate about adding context to stories and informing people about what's going on in their community. She enjoys being outside, traveling and good beer.


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