Fair vendors add spicy twist to French fries

Miranda Hendry serves up a tray of Crabby Fries with Wayne Schafer's homemade crab dip at a Big Fat Daddy's tent at the Frederick County Fair. Rachel Mahoney/Daily

STEPHENSON – After attendees of the Frederick County Fair see the truck and tractor pull or the new skid steer rodeo, they may go for a classic choice of French fry finger food.

There’s a variety of new spins on the fried favorite this year to satisfy anyone’s taste buds, and those hungry for more flavor can dress their fries up themselves with toppings like Old Bay or garlic salt.

Wayne Schafer, owner and pitmaster of the Pennsylvania-based caterer Big Fat Daddy’s, set up his tents at the fair for the 35th year running and offered a seafood twist with his new Crabby Fries.

“I’m a barbecue guy – each year you do barbecue and sausage so we figured we’d bring something different,” he said.

Schafer’s homemade crab dip is piled on top of a tray of fries for customers to cover with as much Old Bay as they’d like. Kelly Willis, who sells the fries for Big Fat Daddy’s at a separate tent for $7, said he’s had customers load seasoning up on their unique variety of French fry.

“I’ve never seen anybody else that’s got any type of crab anything at any spot we went to,” he said.

Cooking Channel’s “Carnival Eats” show featured Schafer’s bread bowl of crab dip and colossal beef crab cake sandwich during its first two seasons.

Shoana Riccio came from Linden with her family to see the skid rodeo and the animals, and chose to sample the crab dip while sharing fries with her children. Although she said she enjoyed the novel cheesy flavor, she didn’t think they’d appreciate the dip and ordered it separately.

“For a fair it seems exotic, which is fun,” she said.

Fairgoers can also opt for a sweeter route this year with $5 funnel cake fries covered in powdered sugar, cinnamon sugar or both. Dave and Faye Daggett’s Express Café has set up at the fair for 15 years and this year, Amanda Minton and her family sell the new funnel cake fries at Daggett’s trailer.

No matter what people call them – fries, strips or fingers – they have all the sweet taste and crispy texture of traditional funnel cakes.

“They’re easier to eat than funnel cakes because you can eat them one finger at a time,” Dave Daggett said.

According to Minton, their bestseller and favorite is the tray of light, crunchy and almost artfully curled ribbon fries. Customers watch as they peel entire potatoes into one long and crispy fairground snack.

“It basically comes out like potato chips when it’s done,” she said.

Candi Fitzwater, who is working at a fair tent each night of the fair, and has been a loyal customer for the ribbon fries. She chooses to top hers with both garlic salt and Old Bay.

“They’re fresh and they’re crispy, and you get a mountain of them,” she said. “You get thirsty after you eat them, though.”

Vendors at the Frederick County Fair tend to choose the safer route and offer sellout favorites rather than challenge their customers with crazy fried concoctions. Daggett said he’s seen fried bubblegum, Kool-Aid and even fried butter offered at larger fairs.

Schafer said that people just want a little something to spice up their fries.

“You’ve got to keep it interesting,” he said.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com