RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – For some people, state fairs are all about the food.
The North Carolina State Fair starts on Thursday and organizers let local members of the media have a taste of 14 new foods at the fair this year.
Voted by the media as Best New Food this year – the jerk BBQ chicken sliders by Cool Runnings Jamaican.
And they are worth a try.
The dish is served up on a roll with a healthy helping of jerk BBQ chicken topped with homemade slaw.
Co-owner Andrea Millington tells CBS 17 the idea for the slider came from her son. Millington said her youngest son tried the slider before the Media Day vote and told her they would win.
“We weren’t expecting it. It’s competitive so we were looking around like there’s no way so I was definitely shocked,” Millington said.
Cool Runnings Jamaican is a two-time Best New Food winner with more than 20 years of serving up Jamaican cuisine for N.C. State Fair attendees.
In 2018, they won for the jerk pork and mango sauce.
“That was the first time ever after 21 years. Now, to win a second time is shocking,” she said.
CBS 17’s top picks
While Cool Runnings Jamaican got the top vote, there were several other foods we believed were deserving of a notable mention.
This one made us stop after one bite and say “wow.”
The plate is a perfectly crisped bed of tater tots topped with spicy cheese sauce, sweet heat shredded chicken, pepper bacon, spicy ranch, sour cream and a crispy fried hot pepper.
It’s a lot but it goes great together.
The tots have a kick of spiciness to them without overpowering any of the flavors. This one gets two thumbs up and a very satisfied belly.
A lot simpler than the tots and sliders, the Lobster Pop by Oak City Fish and Chips was still a standout.
The lobster on a stick created a rush of flavor that makes you really want to slow down to appreciate the taste.
Seasoned with secret spices, the Lobster Pop is lightly battered and served on a bright red lobster tail shell.
It comes with a lemon wedge for you to drizzle a little extra flavor.
Shrimp Mac and Cheese Eggroll
If you’re a fan of lobster mac, this may be for you.
The Shrimp Mac and Cheese Eggroll by Waypoint Oyster Bar is a savory and filling treat.
While flavorful, it does not have an overly seafood taste.
This crispy eggroll is stuffed with southern macaroni and cheese and North Carolina shrimp.
The side of sweet and spicy aioli dip is perfect addition to already solid roll.
Strawberry Cheesecake Smoothie
If you’re looking for something more on the sweet side – this is it.
The Strawberry Cheesecake Smoothie by Tropical Delights is pretty much liquid strawberry cheesecake.
The strawberry smoothie is loaded with New York-style cheesecake and served in a 24-ounce martini cup. It’s a must-try for anyone with a sweet tooth.
Fresh Creamy Lemonade
For something on the refreshing side, this lemonade may be great on a hot fair day.
The fresh creamy lemonade by Bayshore Services is a great take on a classic.
Not too sour and not too sweet, it’s a nice refresher. it’s makers describe it as a creamy twist for a fresh hand-shaken lemonade.
La Surena Loca
If you’re looking for something that’s delicious but doesn’t scream fair food, an arepa could be it.
Arepa Loca does justice to this South American staple with their La Surena Loca.
The dish is a traditional cheese corn arepa pocket stuffed with a nice portion of pulled pork and topped with sweet plantains, cilantro guacamole sauce and pink sauce.
Don’t forget to ask for a side of mini cheese breads to complete the meal!