Calgary Stampede serves exotic foods
The food at the Calgary Stampede bucks the trend when it comes to outdoor eating along a carnival midway.
Traditional fair favourites such as mini doughnuts, corn dogs and hamburgers still hold a prominent place among the brightly-coloured food stands scattered as far as the eye can see.
But they jockey for space with vendors offering up food ranging from the weird, such as cricket or alligator pizza, to the creative, such as pulled-pork parfaits or beef sundaes, to what some might call downright disgusting, such as deep-fried jelly beans.
"We have Calgary's largest food court here on the Stampede midway," said operations manager James Radke.
"From pulled-pork parfait … to Belgian waffle-on-a-stick to alligator to pizza-on-a-stick," he said. "Outrageous food and fun foods, too."
The pulled-pork parfait roped the festival's new food award Thursday night. It's layers of barbecue pork followed by mashed potato and gravy, repeated twice and served up in a plastic parfait container.
The beef sundae, which has satisfied hungry fair-goers for several years, consists of roast beef, corn, mashed potatoes, gravy as "chocolate sauce", cheddar "sprinkles" and a cherry tomato on top.
Radke said there's always some fair foodies willing to try some of the more outrageous offerings, such as sour cream and onion crickets on a cheese pizza.
"We have it every night at 7 p.m. over in front of the grandstand building, it is very popular," he said. "It's like Survivor, right?"
One mantra holds true for the Stampede food experience — everything tastes better coated in batter and dropped in bubbling oil.
"Deep-fried jelly beans, deep-fried Oreos, deep-fried Twinkie, deep-fried Snickers bar," says Radke. "I can get you anything you want, deep-fried."