Mini donuts, cheese curds — and Spam

Starting now, you have the entire city’s permission to go off your diet. Why? Because everyone else is doing it, too. Yes, Rochesterfest starts Saturday.

If you’re new in town, Rochesterfest is our annual celebration of all things southeastern Minnesota and beyond, including street dances, talent competitions, local celebrities, strongman competitions, sand sculpture contests and food. And oh, the food you’ll eat.

"It’s the annual pig-out," jokes Carole Brown, executive director of Rochesterfest. "Everyone seems to have their favorite, from the huge turkey legs to the baklava. And who could miss the cheese curds?"

All the other summer standards are available, like mini donuts, corn dogs, shaved ice, chocolate-covered cheesecake on a stick, corn on the cob (where you "get butter all over your face," Brown says), cotton candy, nachos and pork chop on a stick, to name just a few.

Basically, if it’s portable, they’ll sell it. And if it’s not normally portable, they’ll modify it. Omar’s Kitchen is offering an ultimate taco in a bag, while G and C Concessions has a "walking taco" (presumably you do the walking).


But it wouldn’t be Rochesterfest without our local favorites. Newt’s, which was new last year, will join the fun again with their award-winning burgers. Mac’s Cafe offers gyros, souvlaki (shish kabobs) and Greek desserts, and Fiesta Mexican Cafe celebrates with fajitas, enchiladas and quesadillas. For something unexpected, try out Regal’s Concessions, which will have stir-fry beef in pita and crab fritters. Tilly’s Tavern will also make an appearance with their sweet potato fries and smoked pulled chicken sandwiches. Daniel’s Restaurant is again serving up fish and chips.

Just one new vendor will join the pack this year, CAD Concessions, and they’re bringing something new to the Rochesterfest table: Spam. "They’ll have Spam curds, Spam burgers and an open-face Spamwich," Brown says. I think I’ll ask them for Spam, eggs, sausage and Spam, just to see what they say. Because I’m sure they’ve never heard that one before.

Of course, it’s not all about pigging out. "We certainly do have healthy choices," Brown says. "The strawberries and creme are low-cal and delicious."

The Vegetarian Information Group Of Rochester (VIGOR) is teaming up with the Good Food Store’s Backroom Deli at the VIGOR Grill. They’ll have grilled Portobella burgers, a Cajun tofu wrap, organic garden salad and India Pakora fries. All items at VIGOR’s booth can be made gluten-free upon request.

There are far too many options to list here, but to see it all, stop at the information booth. They’ll have a map showing the locations for each food vendor, and on the back it will list what each of them is serving.

So throw your food plan out the window, just for now. It’s only for eight days, right?

Kimberly Van Brunt is a Rochester freelance writer. Quick Bites runs every Friday in Life/After Dark. Send restaurant news and tips to her at

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