Fall Festival Fresh Takes

Five foods we’re trying this year

Channel 14 WFIE-TV’s Arden Gregory, 104.1 WIKY-FM’s Nolan Elpers and Aaron Santini, and Evansville Living’s Jodi Keen sampled the menus of more than 30 food booths Oct. 2 at the West Side Nut Club Fall Festival.

The 102nd annual West Side Nut Club Fall Festival is in full swing, as the crowds of hungry diners flocking to West Franklin Street before opening time could attest to. Evansville Living was invited to join the 104.1 WIKY-FM teams that were taste-testing a selection of menu items — a tasty but tall task, given that there are more than 100 food booths! Here are some of our favorites.

Deep Fried Reuben Roll
Booth #86, Chandler United Methodist Church
This winning combo of tender corned beef, sharp sauerkraut, and cheese is packed into a wonton and fried to a golden crisp. With the aid of that thick glob of cheese, the wonton holds this iteration of the notoriously messy sandwich together well and makes an ideal finger food.

German Bologna and Fried Egg Sandwich
Booth #76, Highland Elementary School Baseball Boosters
Expected the unexpected at the Fall Festival — and this was the first day’s surprise. A typical thick cut of smoked German bologna melts a slice of pepper jack cheese under a fried egg — and it’s utterly delicious. Upon popping a piece in my mouth, I remember closing my eyes and saying, “I wish I could eat this for breakfast every day.” The other judges felt the same way: WIKY awarded this bologna and fried egg sandwich second place in the “Best of the Festival” category!

Jalapeño popper tenderloin sandwich

Jalapeño Popper Breaded Tenderloin
Booth #90, Mater Dei High School Marching Wildcats
This menu item — new this year! — tops a fried pork tenderloin with a cheesy jalapeño popper squished between two sandwich buns. The tenderloin’s crisp breading supports the cheese oozing out of the popper, which provides just enough kick to liven up the Evansville favorite. (And check out the Marching Wildcats’ booth, one of the best decorated at the festival!)

Pulled Pork Sammie
Booth #80, West Side Improvement Association
Put a twist on classic pulled pork by layering it between two hash brown patties? We agree, but can only nod because we’re shoving it in our mouths. Simmered in a savory barbecue sauce and paired with a gooey cheese slice and pickle, this sandwich’s mix of smoky, tender pork and crunchy hash browns worth telling your friends about.

Freeze-dried Nerd clusters

Freeze-Dried Nerds Cluster
Booth #70, Delta Zeta
Airy and sweet, this bite-size snack recalls crunchy nuggets of cotton candy and packs a punch with candied Nerds sprinkled on top. Bonus points given for next-to-no cleanup necessary.

Honorable Mention: OMG Pimento Cheese Panini
Booth #88, Saint Wendel Church
This grilled sandwich puts you right in the mood for fall. Filled with four flavors of cheese — including the aforementioned pimento — buttered, and griddled to a balanced brown finish, this sammie is easily cut into shareable portions. All that’s missing is a cup of savory tomato soup to dunk it into.

The More You Know
Here’s a question we don’t usually stop to ask before biting into a fluffy pronto pup: Do fall festival booths have to pass a health inspection? The answer is yes. Booths cannot serve unpackaged food until they’ve passed a first-day inspection by the Vanderburgh County Health Department. With that peace of mind in place, dig in!

Jodi Keen
Jodi Keen
Jodi Keen is the managing editor of Evansville Living and Evansville Business magazines.

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