The 2023 Kentucky State Fair got underway on Thursday and I was there to celebrate opening day like I have been for virtually every year of the last twenty or so. There's so much to enjoy at the fair- the exhibits, the animals, the vendors, the entertainment, the concerts and, of course, the food!  Opening day in Louisville was packed and, as expected, folks were in line to enjoy a seemingly endless variety of fair food.  And, let's be honest. There are so many options, it's hard to narrow it down. So, I am helping you out. Here's my list of the 10 Foods You Have to Eat at the 2023 Kentucky State Fair! This list is the result of years of Kentucky State Fair culinary experience.

#10- FUDGE FROM THE SWEET SHOPPE

Chad Benefield
Chad Benefield
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I'll admit it. Until this year, I have never purchased fudge from The Sweet Shoppe. That said, I have passed their booth for years and always thought everything they served looked delicious. Well, now I can vouch for it personally. It's DELICIOUS! The Sweet Shoppe & Dessert Cafe out of Hodgenville, Kentucky makes a wide variety of flavors. We sampled the Tiger Butter (their best seller) and a brand new flavor that will remind you that Fall is just around the corner. Trust me on this. Get yourself some Pumpkin-Fudge. Your mouth will weep.

#9- THE SLUSHIE LAB

Chad Benefield
Chad Benefield
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I am pretty sure this is the first year The Slushie Lab has been at the fair, but don't quote me on that. However, it's definitely the first year the truck has made this list. And here's why it did. For a quick beverage break during our marathon visit, my friend Cheryl walked outside to The Slushie Lab and brought back a strawberry lemonade that basically made her eyes roll to the back of her head. While Cheryl joked about adding a shot of alcohol to it (which they don't do, by the way), the slushie didn't need it.

#8-  A GIANT TURKEY LEG

Chad Benefield
Chad Benefield
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I am not sure there's an image that captures the spirit of the Kentucky State Fair more than a photo of someone gnawing into a gigantic turkey leg. I've had them. They're certainly a satisfying challenge to table manners. While they aren't the easiest things to eat, there were certainly a ton of people taking a whack at 'em on opening day. If you're a diehard carnivore, grab you a turkey leg, find a picnic table, plop down and go to town!

#7-  A PORK BURGER

Chad Benefield
Chad Benefield
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I typically always hit up the Kentucky Pork Producers truck inside the Kentucky Proud food tent. Last year, I got my go-to pork chop sandwich. Thursday, I shifted gears and dropped $8 for a pork burger. It was SO good. The seasoning was spot on and the burger served as my breakfast and lunch. Pro tip- get their Crazy Taters too! Think homemade potato chips covered in a spicy, melted cheese.

#6- A CORN DOG FROM PAT'S FOOTLONGS

Epic fail. I was craving a corn dog so badly that I forgot to take a photo of it when I bought one.  Luckily, Pat's had one.

Pat's Footlong
Pat's Footlong
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And, look! There are corn dogs at plenty of booths at the Kentucky State Fair. But NONE can lay claim to the size and girth of a corn dog from Pat's.  My friend Mary-Katherine and I each got one and clean our sticks in minutes.

#5- THE DONUT BURGER

Chad Benefield
Chad Benefield
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A longtime staple of the Kentucky State Fair. And yes! That's a hamburger sandwiched between two Krispy Kreme donuts. It sounds decadent and borderline unhealthy. It probably is, but I didn't care the first time I chomped my lips around one. You won't care either. For me- this burger has become synonymous with the Kentucky State Fair. It's a must!

#4- A DEEP FRIED DESSERT

Chad Benefield
Chad Benefield
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At the Kentucky State Fair, you can find all sorts of deep fried desserts and there are several that you cannot go wrong with- the Deep Fried Oreo or a Funnel Cake. But try this one on for size. There's an outdoor booth (out in front of Freedom Hall) that's serving up a Kentucky classic. They're serving Deep Fried Derby Pie. You're welcome for the recommendation!

#3- THE BRISKET SANDWICH FROM THE KENTUCKY CATTLEMEN

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Chad Benefield
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Quite possibly THE best sandwich at the Kentucky Fair & Exposition Center. The brisket sandwich from the Kentucky Cattlemen's Association is certainly one of the highlights of the Kentucky Proud Food Tent. It's cooked to perfection and is filling on its own. However, if you're in the market for a side order, walk down to this booth just off to the right . . .

#2-  A JUMBO EAR OF CORN

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Chad Benefield
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There's no attractive way to eat this, but you won't mind having your face coated in corn and butter once you order one. Gallrein Farms from Shelbyville, KY has cornered the market on ridiculously delicious and big ears of corn. You may be flossing your teeth for a week, but your gums won't mind. Neither will your pride.

#1- PINEAPPLE WHIP

Chad Benefield
Chad Benefield
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The Pineapple Whip at the Kentucky State Fair is the absolute best. In fact, don't just take it from me. Take it from the tour guide I once had on a Kentucky State Fair shuttle When we got near the Pineapple Whip booth, he blew the siren on his horn and yelled at the driver to stop the shuttle. He dismounted from the back of the tram, went over the booth and came back with a Pineapple Whip on a cone. He said, "I get one of these every day. I love these things." Trust me when I tell you. You will too.