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Vegetarian finds fare at the Boone County Fair lacking

Thursday, July 24, 2008 | 7:44 p.m. CDT; updated 8:42 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 27, 2008
Signs reading "Fried Bologna Sandwiches," "Thick Juicy Burgers" and "Chicken on a Stick" are common sights at the Boone County Fair. Vegetarian and Columbia Missourian reporter Julia Haslanger ate one of the few vegetarian options, mozarella sticks, at the fair Thursday night.

COLUMBIA — With all the talk of ham and barbecue at the fair this week, I wondered how a vegetarian would fare for fare at the fair. And so, the quest began for a vegetarian dinner at the Boone County Fair.
My first stop was encouraging. Who would’ve thought the Boone County Pork Producers' booth would have three choices for vegetarians? They were: applesauce, baked beans and chips. Side dishes just weren’t enough for this hungry vegetarian, but I’d keep them in mind if things got desperate.
The ice cream booth bridging the divide between the Boone County Democrats' and Boone County Republicans’ booths looked tempting.
“No dessert for dinner,” whispered my teenage girl consciousness. I moved on, past stands of snow cones, caramel apples and cotton candy. It’s good to know we’re keeping sugar producers in business.
I rounded the corner toward the carnival rides. A huge, four-feet-ish tall burger with “Thick & Juicy Burgers” blazing above it marked another concession stand. The stand wasn’t open yet, but I thought I’d check the menu to analyze the fare.
Polish sausage? Yup. Chix on Stick? Yup. Super Dog? Yup. Food for Julia? Well, the fish basket, fries and cheese fries didn’t sound that appealing, and because it wasn’t open, I couldn’t ask if it was cooked in vegetable oil or some form of animal fat grease. 
This seems like a good spot to explain why I’m a vegetarian. I have been a vegetarian for most of my life, mostly because I don’t like the taste of meat. I’m not a fan of slaughtering animals unnecessarily, but if it’s going to feed someone, I’m OK with it.
The idea of the ham auction at the fair didn’t disgust me too much, so I went to the multi-purpose building to check out the display. Lots of ham. Lots and lots of ham. I thought that vegetables would be on display as much as meat, so I wandered through the 4-H awards and found one table with hardly enough vegetables to make a salad.
“A relish, maybe,” my friend suggested.
Disappointed, I wandered down to the Tiger Shrine Club, another food area, and asked them if they had any vegetarian options.
“We’ve got hamburgers,” said the woman in the kitchen. “Oh, nope.”
Her co-worker corrected her, bringing up the onion rings, fries and nachos. She even pulled out the cooking oil container to show me the ingredients list: soybean oil, and no animal products. Still, this vegetarian was hoping for more.
The sign for “Fried Bologna” was just so bizarre that I wandered toward it. Next to it was a sign for mozzarella sticks. Could that be the answer to my hunger? At the window of the “Whoa Nelly!” food stand, I asked what was used to fry the mozzarella sticks.
Vegetable oil, the woman assured me, and I ordered some. Along with a lemonade, it was the perfect fare for a vegetarian at the fair. Now let’s just hope I don’t turn vegan.

Fair food for vegetarians

Options at the Boone County Fair include:

• Onion rings

• fish basket

• fries

• cheese fries

• plain nachos

• pretzels

• popcorn

• applesauce

• beans

• mozzarella sticks


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Comments

Jeff Turner July 27, 2008 | 10:37 a.m.

First a comment on the sidebar list of fare food options for vegetarians. Fish basket? Since when is fish a vegetable? Fish are animals.

Beyond that, yes, it's very difficult to go to anything like a fare as a vegetarian. As a vegan, I know that and then some! When heading into such unpromising territory, it's best to pack some snacks, like a peanut butter sandwich.

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