Red Velvet Cake, Beavers, and a 166-lb Watermelon

I possess an unreasonable amount of nostalgia for the South Carolina State Fair.

It could have something to do with the incredible Fiske french fries. (My Dad's favorite.)

Fried fried with a side of Jesus, please! (Thank you.)

I get extremely pumped to go look at bunnies.

But, as is the case at most fairs I attend: the bunnies, like the birdies, are caged and unpettable.

Ran into my friend John in the Congaree Swamp exhibit, which is a weird replica of our local National Park, "the largest expanse of old-growth flood plain forest in America."

He was taking human interest shots of fairgoers for The State newspaper. I asked if he would please play "nature photographer" for me.

John is a good sport.

BTW, have you seen the half-hour IMAX movie about beavers? It's called BEAVERS and is completely mindblowing. It's on Netflix "Instant Watching" so treat yourself asap!

Beavers are industrious little machines. I've visited a bunch of SC lakes and ponds where the beavs have gnawed and toppled dozens of trees, leaving that cartoonish cone of chawed stump behind.

Our buddy Steven found a beaver skull in Lake Wateree recently; you should see the choppers on that thing!

Beavers are brilliant. I would like a beaver to build me a house someday.

2pm on a weekday: time to go look at the jams and jellies and crafts and stuff, while the crowds are still fairly thin.

(They had to outlaw beer at the State Fair because things were getting so rowdy during peak hours.)

Just the other day, my sweetie told me that loofah sponges are the insides of big, long squash-type vegetables, and that they grow here in SC.

Prize-winning peanut. (No more rhymes and I mean it.)

Peanuts are a big SC crop. These ones are quite large!

Not as big as this first place watermelon.

You heard of the craft known as Eggery? Now we know. EGGERY!! The word is printed on each of the little tags there:


There are some fiendish bits of bad in the home crafts show.

Seriously? A cross-stitch of a hobo clown? Please tell me his name is Patches.

And, um, WTF? Love the blue theme here.

On opposite day.

The decorated cakes are something else though. These ladies were super into the Best in Show winner...

..which was a pair of pointed toe high heels made of sugar and cake, with their own fancy box. Way to hit the judges in two soft spots: cake and shoes!

I find myself both grossed-out and totally drawn to this cake ensemble, fashioned to look like a burger and fry combo.

Truly impressed, on the other hand, with this cockroach cake. I don't understand why it didn't win top honors; it's AMAZING.

It's not a South Carolina cake contest if there's no red velvet cake.

An entire wall of fridges just for the refrigerated cake entries, yo.

(As well as a section for savory dishes all made with Spam. A Spam-sponsored mini-contest, of course.)

Yet more glass cabinets for the non-fridge cakes, cookies, cupcakes, breads, candies, rolls, and basically every humble variety of homemade dough in the state.

True fact: South Carolina is FIERCE about its cheese straws. This is just one shelf of entries.

Pickling is super hip these days in foodie circles, you might have noticed. I've been pickling from my colleague Karen Solomon's new book, Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It, and I'll report once the pickling has reached its zenith. Lots of key recipes in there, like ketchup, marshmallows, and homemade crackers. Nice.

You think SC takes pickling lightly? No ma'am. No sir.

Preserved, pickled, jarred, jammed, jellied, you name it.

We will find a way to make it keep forever.

This is made entirely of unleavened bread. A professor from the culinary institute in Charleston made it. Bucolic!

Time to go home and spend an indeterminate amount of time considering regrets over having gotten a corn dog from the wrong corn dog vendor. First, must appreciate the design elements of this commercial exhibit.

I didn't ride this elephant, because I feel bad about that whole exploited animal thing.

But what a sweet heffalump, no?

Going to go back to the fair next week and gonna get a corn dog from the right corn dog vendor (the "pronto pups" guy?) and take a look at the fine art and student art. I took a peek and there were lots of puppies and beach scenes.


photos: TB


  1. Wonderful pictures!! Another interesting article. I look forward to reading these blogs, they always intrigue and interest me. I am very glad to being a part of this site. Thanks for keeping us informed and God Bless!


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