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A big part of attending the Utah State Fair involves searching out the weird, the unusual, the uncommon.

After all, where can you visit a single place and buy food grown and made in Utah, see a Weird Al Yankovic concert, ride a bucking steer, buy a bright pink barbecue grill in the shape of a pig, see a goat being shaved, plan your funeral and sign up for a sex toy party in your home?

This year's fair even offers a booth promoting the pain reliever Advil, which might come in handy after you walk through the midway, livestock booths and vendor tables with thousands of others.

Unfortunately, the Advil may not help relieve the financial pain of a lighter wallet that comes when sampling many of the products or riding the rides.

What follows are 10 things you shouldn't miss at this year's fair:

1. The Odditorium

Located on the carnival midway and operated by Jim Zajicek, this might be the weirdest thing to see at the fair. Though the live six-legged steer, miniature horse, two-nosed cow and two-headed turtle are pretty cool, the best part of the $3 admission is seeing Mephisto the Master, who according to the sign above the small stage, was "born in a volcano and raised by a dragon." He pounds a nail into his head so tight he needs pliers to pull it out and has an X-ray to prove the trick is real. Then he swallows fire with hopes of setting a world record by swallowing 66 torches in a minute. As Zajicek said, "you don't see a six-legged steer every day." Indeed.

2. Deep-fried Coke

This might be the weird fair food leader. After hearing about a similar product at the Texas State Fair, Provo's John Searle went to work on creating this product, which is made from Coke-flavored batter deep-fried, covered with cinnamon sugar and Coke syrup and topped with whipping cream and a cherry. The $5 concoction is served in a clear plastic cup and eaten hot with a fork. The booth also offers deep-fried Oreos, Snickers and Twinkies or, as Searle puts it, "all the healthy foods."

3. Wild West Turkey Stampede

"These are the top racing turkeys in the world," said Nancy Riegler of Ramona, Calif., who races the turkeys with her husband, Gil. "Of course, they are the only racing turkeys in the world." People pick a red, white or blue turkey to cheer for as about nine of the birds chase a radio-powered truck with feed in the back around a small track. The act includes a turkey calling contest, roping demonstration and a huge bird named "Tercules." Races are held four times a day.

4. Brass knuckle belt buckles

Being sold by a vendor near the northeast entrance, this item might be almost as effective as carrying a concealed weapon and you don't have to go to a class or hold a permit to buy one.

5. Utah Dairy Council butter sculpture

For the 10th consecutive year, Murray sculptor Debbie Brown spent five days and used 700 pounds of butter - much of it recycled from past sculptures - to create a bucking bull and rodeo rider. It's in a fridge in the Promontory Building on the southeast corner of the fairgrounds.

6. Bruiser the Ragdog

Robert Aiken of Estes Park, Colo., dresses up in a puppet costume and resembles a real-life dog who barks, raises his leg when angry and rolls over. Don't be surprised if the four-legged creature chases you near the northeast fair entrance. And he loves to pose for photos.

7. Navy divers playing underwater Tic Tac Toe

Look for these divers from the Explosive Ordinance Disposal Mobile Unit from Coronado, Calif., on the east side of the fairgrounds as part of a large U.S. Navy recruiting area. They dive in a tank decorated with "Real Men of Honor" artwork and use a marker to play Tic Tac Toe on the tank window.

8. Giant Florida gator

Another midway attraction, this creature that eats chicken weighs in at 1,200 pounds and is 13 feet long. It doesn't do much because it is in cool water that fools it into thinking it is hibernating. Still, most are glad for the class and metal bars between them and the monster.

9. Pork chop on a stick

You don't get to eat a pork chop grilled on an open barbecue in most fine-dining establishments but, at the Utah state Fair, you can buy one for $7.

10. Chain-saw carver

What would a fair be without a man wielding a chain saw carving an eagle or a bear out of a tree stump? Forty-two-year-old Mark Colp, who has been a competitive carver (is there such a thing?) since 1998, is the featured artist. He was taught by his father, who was a true pioneer in the art of chain-saw carving.


* TOM WHARTON can be contacted at His phone number is 801-257-8909. Send comments about this story to

More online

For video of Robert Kirby at the fair, go to and scroll down to multimedia.