A meal at the Marshfield Fair typically includes a slice of pizza, a hot dog or a piece of sugary fried dough.   But there are a surprising number of vendors making unique and delicious artisan foods.  The siren call of the flashy sausage and pepper booths overshadow the humbler stands of these passionate cooks, but there are kettles and pans brimming with unexpected delights.

While it is sometimes intimidating to consider eating at a fair stand, it is comforting to know that each and every booth is inspected by the local health inspector and must pass a long list of requirements covering food preparation, storage and cleanliness.    The artisan stands sparkle with the pride of ownership and the person serving your food is likely to be the one who created the recipe, sourced the ingredients and prepared the dishes.    

A quick survey of the food trail reveals lobster rolls, grilled swordfish, fresh fruit smoothies, and chocolate dipped marshmallows interspersed amongst the traditional fare.  The artisan food booths are simple and understated and might be easy to overlook, but slow down, take a look and step up to the booth; each owner has a story to tell and delicious food to sell.

The gentleman at Rene’s Kitchen sells meatballs and ziti in “Angelina’s Sauce;” Angelina is the owner’s grandmother; she taught him the old world way to make meatballs.  He is there every day dishing out her red sauce with hand rolled pork and beef meatballs with a hint of Parmigiano Regianno  and fresh herbs.  The meatballs are slow simmered for eight hours in Angelina’s sauce and served with ziti or in a sub roll.   He also sells homemade shrimp fritters and cold brewed iced coffee - perfect for a hot summer day.

Seek out the simple booth with a handmade wooden sign declaring “Falafel” and you will be warmly welcomed by a Middle Eastern family making superb Falafel and deeply satisfying Turkish coffee.   Falafel is a seasoned fritter made with chick peas and a heady combination of Middle Eastern spices such as baharat, cumin and paprika.  These little nuggets of flavor are offered along with hummus, grape leaves and pita bread.  This delightful family is travelling the country bringing home made Middle Eastern food and a warm family welcome with them.  

Children and the young at heart will delight in stopping by the mini-donut booth where a father and son team drop donut dough into an entertaining conveyor belt fryelator and create light fluffy mini donuts on the spot.  Each bag of six mini donuts is created to order, shaken with just the right amount of sugar and cinnamon and handed over with a well-deserved warning of caution; freshly cooked donuts are hot.  But part of the fun is bravely popping them into your mouth while they are still full of fresh cooked goodness.

Local food providers are also well represented at the Marshfield Fair.  Natural and Organic Meats of Middleboro offers a wild-ride of organically raised bison burgers, sausages and ostrich patties in their booth.   Trying this food is a carnival ride for the taste buds; the anticipation is the tricky part, eating the ostrich is a taste sensation and telling your friends about it later is all part of the fair experience.

Egypt Country Store in Scituate has two booths located diagonally across from one another.  Known for their fudge, they offer twenty-seven tasty varieties ranging from classic chocolate to creamsicle, Oreo cookie, mint chocolate (a personal favorite), mocha and well … five down, twenty-two to go!  Stroll across the path for fruit smoothies, Richardson Dairy ice cream and more.

The Marshfield Fair closes Aug. 30.  For information about the fair, hours, and admission fees visit www.marshfieldfair.org.