UACES Facebook Planning Fair Food in Your Diet
skip to main content

Planning Fair Food in Your Diet

Tips on how to enjoy that delicious fair food and still not gain weight.

8/29/22 Nashville, Ark. – What could be better than a night at the county fair, checking out the exhibits, watching a livestock show, enjoying one of the famous hamburgers from the kitchen, peach cobbler or ice cream? Can it get any better? Fair season is upon us. The Howard County Fair starts Monday, followed by other fairs around the area, and ending with the state fair in October.

At each fair, food is as much a part of the fair as the exhibits, rides and livestock shows. But all the fair food we enjoy this time of the year can add extra calories. But hey, fairs involve a lot walking, so we will burn off those extra fair food calories, right? Maybe – if we walk up to 1.5 miles for a bag of cotton candy and 3 miles for a funnel cake.

Big portions with lots of sugar and fat calories characterize many of the foods we traditionally associate with fair. For many of us, attending the fair would not be as much fun without these treats. Some may be once-a-year foods for us, and we look forward to those foods at the fair.

So, can you enjoy these foods and still not gain weight? It depends on what you eat and how much you eat.

On average, you have to walk about 1 mile to burn 100 calories. Most walking trails around the county are laid out for you to easily get a mile in. At the Dogwood Pavilion trail, at the city park, two times around the trail equals one mile. Or, if you prefer to go by time, at a 3-mph pace, it’ll take you 20 minutes to go a mile. Walking at 4 mph, it will take 15 minutes to go a mile.

Before you stuff your picnic basket with carrots and celery sticks and head to the fair, consider this; With a little planning, it is possible to fit in many favorite fair foods in an overall healthy diet.

  • Start by ordering the small drink instead of the larger sizes. Better yet, buy water to drink at zero calories and spend your fair-day calories on something else.
  • Split fair foods among several people. For example, share a large funnel cake with friends.
  • Limit yourself to your favorite fair foods. Choose reasonable serving sizes of lower sugar and lower fat items. They are possible. Instead of the double meat, double cheeseburger; order the single meat, single cheese version.
  • Plan times to eat, rather than grazing your way from one end of the fair to the other. Mindless eating is eating without paying attention. Before you know it, that whole bag of chips is gone!
  • Wear comfortable shoes. You are more likely to walk further if your shoes are comfortable. Consider tracking your steps to see how far you walk. There are free apps available. One-mile equals about 2,000 steps.

 Finally, if you do overindulge, try to eat healthier the next day. Going overboard one day will not necessarily ruin your diet. It is when we go overboard several days in a row. So go ahead and enjoy some of your favorite foods at the fair, just do not over do it!

Need some help getting started with a walking plan? Consider forming a team and joining the Fall Walk Across Arkansas starting September 12 and going through November 6. This eight-week program encourages participants to get out and exercise! To join, you just need to form a team of 2 to 10 people, register your team and members online at  and start walking.

Throughout the 8 weeks, members will log the time they exercise each day. This can be done by the team captain or members on a weekly basis. While walking is the preferred method of exercise, many other types of exercise can be counted, including housework, gardening, etc. The goal is to get up and get moving!

Members will receive encouragement throughout the program through online newsletters, which is full of tips and tricks to keep you on track plus nutrition information. And the best thing is it is free to join!

If you would like more information on healthy eating, Walk Across Arkansas, or other exercise programs offered through the University Division of Agriculture, contact the Howard County Extension Office at 870-845-7517 or visit our office located on the second floor of the courthouse.

Remember, the Howard County Fair is next week! September 5-10, 2022. There are several new activities and there will be lots to see. Bring your fair entries on Tuesday, September 6 from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Make plans to come out and enjoy the fair!

Recipe of the Week

This recipe was a staple at the Howard County Fair for many years and still requested today. They make a great treat for your family on weekends.

Donut Mix

  • 7 ½ cups self-rising flour

  • 1 Tablespoon ground ginger

  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg

  • 2 cups sugar

  • 2 Tablespoons cinnamon

  • ½ cup nonfat dry milk

  • 4 eggs

  • ½ cup cooking oil

  • 2 cups water

  1. Combine all dry ingredients and store in an airtight container in a cool place.
  2. To use the mix, beat together the wet ingredients. 
  3. Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Beat until smooth.
  4. Drop by rounded tablespoons in deep fat, preheated to 375°F.
  5. Drain on paper towel. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.



By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517