Greeting friends! Is your summer winding down as quickly as mine seems to be this week? While we were gone on vacation this month there’s one thing we missed out on that would’ve been fun to do, and that is visit our State Fair here in Wisconsin. Despite the simple entertainment of people watching, it’s always fun to go to the Fair to see the animals, watch the judging demonstrations, hear the music, and of course – eat the food!
Fair food is one of those things you only allow yourself the splurge of once a year – deep-fried everything on a stick! But my most favorite part of the Wisconsin State Fair has got to be the Cream Puffs. It’s so totally worth the sometimes hour plus wait in line to get them – and then the hour it takes to finish cleaning up your sticky hands and face when you are done eating them!
According to the Wisconsin State Fair’s website, the iconic Original Cream Puff, sold at the Fair since 1924, is the most popular food item among Fairgoers – an average of 350,000 are consumed each year, and more than 400,000 were enjoyed in 2015!
Since we knew we were missing out on this delectable Fair treat while up North on our vacation, my sister – aka the baker of the family – volunteered to whip us up a batch of homemade cream puffs. She even used the official State Fair original recipe, and if I hadn’t known otherwise, I would have sworn they came straight from the Fair.
She really won the blue ribbon award on this one, and I’ve decided to share the recipe with you here, just in case you missed out on all that creamy goodness too!
Since we were settling in to eat a Fair treat, we decided to watch one of our old-time favorite musical films, State Fair. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while now, you know that I sort of have a thing for old movies. You can read about another favorite musical film of mine, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, here.
The film, State Fair, has been re-made several times. It was originally a film that came out in 1933, but was later musically adapted by Rogers and Hammerstein again in 1945. Then again it was remade in 1962 starring Ann-Margret. The version I love the most is the 1945 musical film, featuring Jeanne Crain, Dana Andrews and Vivian Blaine.
The plot follows the small-town Frake family, who attend the Iowa State Fair, the annual highlight of their summer. Son Wayne (Dick Haymes) plots revenge on a midway barker (Henry Morgan) who had embarrassed him the summer before and falls for the beautiful singer Emily (Vivian Blaine), while his melancholy sister Margie (Jeanne Crain) becomes smitten with slick city-boy reporter Pat (Dana Andrews).
Meanwhile, mother Melissa (Fay Bainter) and father Abel (Charles Winninger) plot to win their respective competitions in the mincemeat and pickles category, as well as the grand champion boar.
The movie is mainly a love story that follows 2 different couples, but there are some funny parts too. The most hilarious part of the film is when the mother, Melissa Frake, enters her pickles and mincemeat into the cooking competition of the Fair. While she initially refuses to “spice” her mincemeat with any brandy, her husband decides to add some to her recipe without her knowledge.
Then, at the last-minute, she changes her mind in hopes of winning the contest, and adds an additional 2 parts brandy to the already “spiked” mincemeat. The end result is one particular judge who can’t get enough “sampling” of her mincemeat and ends up a little tipsy at the end of the competition. But it works! She wins the blue ribbon, as well as a distinguished achievement plaque!
The music also makes this film special. With songs like “It’s A Grand Night for Singing”, “Our State Fair”, “It Might as Well be Spring” , and “That’s For Me” the movie won the Academy Award for Best Original Song. Dick Haymes and Vivian Blaine were well known big band singers of the time who did their own singing in the film. But what’s interesting is that Jeanne Crain’s singing voice was dubbed by Louanne Hogan and Dana Andrews’s singing voice was dubbed by Ben Gage.
Perhaps I’ve inspired you to rent this oldie but goodie classic before the summer is gone and with it another season of fairs, cream puffs and people-watching. It’s definitely one of my favorite musicals, among many. And for the record, I still think our State Fair is a great State Fair!