By Katie Crenshaw
Rides, music, entertainment and, most importantly, FOOD!! Fayetteville’s annual Spring Dogwood Festival is a fun-filled event in large part because it comes with all of your beloved festival foods. This is a time to forget your diet. Indulge. To get your mouth watering, here is a list of 10 top food favorites that you’re sure to enjoy during this huge downtown event that will be held April 26-29. Bring your appetite and chow down!
It goes without saying that a festival cannot be a festival without funnel cake. It’s a signature treat. Who doesn't love that fried doughy edible perfection dusted heavily with powdered sugar? The best thing about a funnel cake is that it’s big enough to share. Take a couple of bites, share the rest with someone you love and move on to another delicious Dogwood Festival goodie.
The Classic Corn Dog
I go weak in the knees over a good corn dog. I like my corn dog lighter on the batter, really crispy and fresh out of the fryer. If it’s so hot that it burns the roof of my mouth, all the better. If it’s made with a really good hot dog, such as a Sabrett or Nathan's, I am in heaven. The key to finding the perfect corn dog is to look for the food vendor with made-from-scratch, hand-dipped, corn-battered hot dogs. Those are the BEST!! There are few things better than a hand-made, freshly battered, deep-fried corn dog served piping hot. Slather it up with mustard or dip it in ketchup; either way it is going to be delicious.
The Gigantic Turkey Leg
If you wonder around the Dogwood Festival long enough you are bound to run into someone with a gigantic turkey leg. How do they get so big? People LOVE munching on those obscenely huge caveman-like hunks of meat. And why not? They are lean, tender, flavorful and easy to walk around with.
I once was skeptical about eating deep-fried Oreos. Chocolate wafers filled with sweet cream filling, battered, deep-fried, then served as a gooey hot mess. Could this really be good? Heck yeah!!! The only thing that could make this fried indulgence any better is if it was topped with homemade soft-serve ice cream. Mmm. Just think. A deep-fried Oreo sundae. Doesn't that sound fantastic? I think it would be brilliant to put the deep-fried Oreos vendor and the soft-serve ice-cream vendor side-by-side so I could create this experience for myself. Hint, hint, Dogwood Committee!
Soft-Serve Ice Cream
Soft-serve ice cream is one of my husband's personal favorites. Like a big kid, the minute he sees that giant ice cream cone-shaped food vendor (the one you can see a mile away), he has to dart immediately to get in its line. He lights up when they hand him a huge cone of that delicious frozen creamy treat. For myself, I try to find the vendors who will hand dip the soft-serve ice cream in fun flavors, like cherry, chocolate, grape, caramel and butterscotch. The hardest part is deciding which flavor to choose.
Polish Sausage Dogs
Your nose knows things – and when it catches the aroma of sizzling grilled peppers, onions and Polish sausage, it knows you need to follow that smell to its source. Why? Because it’s cooking up something delicious. You would think making Polish sausage dogs on the grill at home would be just as tasty but no; they are never quite as good as eating them at the Dogwood Festival.
Falafel are crispy deep-fried round balls made of ground fava beans or ground chickpeas or both. They look like giant Southern hush puppies. These flavorful, savory, Middle Eastern bites are served by themselves or on a pita with lettuce, tomatoes and a creamy tahini-based sauce. If you have never tried falafel, the Dogwood Festival is the perfect opportunity to branch out and eat some.
Cheesecake on a Stick
Everyone loves a creamy slice of cheesecake. At the Dogwood Festival, you can have this gourmet classic on a stick, made to easily walk around with. It’s the perfect dessert to grab and go as you enjoy the day's festivities.
This giant, battered, deep-fried onion appetizer is an impressive-looking – and impressive-tasting – festival delicacy. Grab one to go, find a nice grassy spot by the stage and enjoy the music as you peel off the tasty little petals and eat them one by one. It is big enough to share so, if you can bear to, why not? Sharing good food with good people is always better than eating it by yourself.
We Southerners love our pulled pork and Fayetteville has some great local barbecue restaurants. But the Dogwood Festival has a couple of small mom-and-pop food vendors who make fresh barbecue on site with unique recipes and homemade sauces and sides. I never turn down an opportunity for a juicy, smoked pulled-pork sandwich with creamy coleslaw and spicy, vinegary sauce, especially when it is made fresh. The messier the better, just grab some extra napkins.
I hope your taste buds are activated and your stomach is rumbling in happy anticipation of these fun and delicious foods that you’ll find at the Dogwood Festival. Happy eating!
If you enjoyed this article, check out my blog, "A Fork's Tale," for easy recipes and restaurant reviews. In it, you will find some of the tasty recipes I have created for CityView, including Cheesy Jalapeño Cheddar Beer Bread; Slow Cooker Beer, Brats, and Onions; and Black Forest Egg, Ham, and Cheese Cups, to name a few. Xoxo.