The Colorado State Fair (August 25 to September 4) celebrates 151 years in 2023 and thousands are gathering in Pueblo for horse shows, carnival rides, rodeos, and monster truck rallies. In the middle of it all lies an avenue of food vendors, slinging everything from pulled pork nachos to deep-fried Oreos. Here, five can’t-miss Colorado State Fair foods to try this year.

The Slopper

We’ll get right down to business and introduce this Pueblo-born state fair icon. The southern Colorado delicacy consists of an open-faced cheeseburger smothered in homemade pork green chile and topped with onions. It’s cheesy, saucy, and messy and must be eaten with a fork and knife while sitting down. Grab one from the family-run Giodone’s Italian Bar & Grill food stand at the fair, which also serves a tempura-dipped fried Pueblo chile. Also be sure to catch the World Slopper Eating Championship on Saturday, September 2. There, pro eaters will try and top the world record: 37.5 nine-ounce Sloppers in under eight minutes, set by Geoffrey Esper in 2020.

Giant Turkey Legs

Barbecued turkey legs at the Colorado State Fair. Photo courtesy of the Colorado State Fair

Smoky, meaty hand-held food? You betcha. Enormous barbecued turkey legs are a state fair staple that spreads like wildfire—once you see one fairgoer munching away, walking and talking with a leg in-hand, it’s easy to cave to the primal craving. Sniff your way toward the giant metal grates of meat sizzling over beds of hot coals and find your place in line.

Fry Bread Tacos

Seek out Sugar’s Concessions’ rainbow-colored food tent and order a fry bread beef taco with the works: open-faced and slathered with pinto beans, shredded Monterey jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, sour cream, and guacamole. One bite into the puffy, chewy fried dough and you’ll never look at tacos the same again.

Mexican Street Corn

Mexican street corn at the Colorado State Fair. Photo courtesy of the Colorado State Fair

The Colorado State Fair draws Mexican food vendors from around the state serving up every authentic delicacy you can name. Bypass the Rocky Mountain nachos and the crispy fried chimichangas and order the elote on a stick. This corn on the cob is dressed in crumbled cojita cheese, crunched up Famlin’ Hot Cheetos, and warm drizzled butter for a spicy zip that will send tastebuds soaring. Find the agua fresca vendor for a sweet refreshing cucumber or cantelope water to wash this creation down.

Jalapeño Poppers

Jalapeño poppers at the Colorado State Fair. Photo courtesy of the Colorado State Fair

You’ll smell these juicy blistered peppers before you see them. The team behind the fan-favorite food truck, Chiles en Fuego, skewers whole jalapeños stuffed with cream cheese and wrapped in slices of bacon and rolls them on a hot grill before serving the creamy-crunchy-smoky treats with a smile. You can also get bacon-wrapped peppers at SueSue’s Concessions, which sells several skewered bites, from pork chops to hot dogs.

Of course, it almost goes without saying: Save space for the quintessential paper plate of powder-sugar-doused funnel cake or deep-fried Oreos, available from multiple vendors. Colorado State Fair purists wouldn’t have it any other way.

Pro Tip

On Fridays during the Colorado State Fair, select food vendors offer an item for $5 until 5 p.m.  Discounted treats to look for this Friday (September 1) include bags of cinnamon-scented roasted almonds, cashews, or pecans from Totally Nutz; jalapeño poppers from Backyard BBQ; and funnel cakes from Hoopingarner Concessions.

Lisa Blake
Lisa Blake
Lisa Blake is a freelance writer and children's book author living in Breckenridge. When she's not writing about food and mountain adventures, she can be found on the river with her son, pug and husband.