Whether you’re looking for corn dogs or funnel cakes, we’ve got a list of places in Central Illinois you can find fair food with your family
Editor’s Note: we have not personally visited all of these locations but would love to hear from you if you do! Email us to let us know what you love and what didn’t quite make the mark on our fair food outside the fair list for 2020. Please confirm open days/times for the establishments listed below. We will link to social media and websites as we can find them so you can check before you go.
We know you miss the fairs this year, and while we can’t replicate that whole experience for you, we CAN help by telling you where to go and when to go there to get your fair food fix. (Try saying that five times fast!)
We’re including spots within about an hour’s drive of Champaign-Urbana as we’re going to have to drive a bit in search of some of our favorites. If you hear of any pop-up fair food events happening in Champaign-Urbana this summer, please let us know right away so we can spread the word; just submit it to our event calendar.
Funnel Cakes (and Deep Fried Oreos, too)
This list wouldn’t be complete without funnel cakes. We had a hard time finding them near Champaign-Urbana but stumbled upon The Tornado Truck in Decatur with all kinds of fair favorites, including funnel cakes, shaved ice, deep fried Oreos and lemon shake-ups. Closed on Sundays.
You can also find funnel cakes and tons of other fair favorites at Harvest Moon Twin Drive-In Movie Theatre. Note: you must pay to enter the drive-in to nosh on a Harvest Moon Elephant Ear or Funnel Cake Sundae.
Food on a stick is an absolute must when it comes to fair food. Head to Dewey’s Drive-In in Farmer City to get your corn dog. Bonus? Dewey’s is a stop on the Chambanamoms ice cream trail, so save room for dessert.
Vendors fry anything and everything at the fair and while fried pickles sound weird, you need to try ’em. Drive to Ott’s Drive-In in Rantoul for fried pickles, breaded mushrooms, onion rings and jalapeno poppers, just to name a few. Closed on Mondays.
You’ll see the Kona Ice truck making the rounds in the Champaign-Urbana area regularly. Connect with them on social to see when they’re coming to your area and place a pre-order if you wish.
Chili Dogs, Chili Fries, Chili everything
This one we do have right in C-U. Visit Niro’s Gyros (various locations) for a chili dog, chili cheeseburger or chili cheese fries. Chili anything!
In any other year you can get a horseshoe while you’re at the Illinois State Fair — there’s even a horseshoe-making competition as part of the fair fun each year. But not this year. Boondocks at Clinton Lake serves up horseshoes and the junior version, a ponyshoe, at its lakeside diner.
This one may feel a bit more indulgent than your standard caramel apple, but that’s because Flesor’s Kitchen in Tuscola does treats up right. Bonus: Flesor’s likes to deep fry things, too, and its menu includes fried pickle spears, fried mushrooms and cheese fries with bacon.
Turkey Leg Tips
We haven’t found where you can get a turkey leg (yet!) but we found turkey tips on the menu at Wood ‘N Hog BBQ in Urbana. Try them and see if they meet your turkey leg needs.