State College, PA - Centre County - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University

Food Remains Star of the Show at the Grange Fair

by on August 21, 2014 12:30 PM

Let's be honest, most folks go to the fair for the food.

French fries, pizza and ice cream are some of the most common favorites.

But at the Grange Fair in Centre Hall, which started Thursday and runs through Aug. 28, there are culinary options for even the most sophisticated palates -- or for someone who simply wants to try something new.

For example, at The Oasis owned by Tony Ghaffari of State College, there's an authentic Cuban sandwich, which is a common entrée in South Florida.

What is a Cuban sandwich exactly? It's sliced pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickle and mustard toasted on a flat sandwich press – with no substitutions.

"It is what it is because quite frankly if someone had one made their way it wouldn't be a Cuban sandwich," says Ghaffari.

Locals may have seen variations of the Cuban sandwich at restaurants and convenience stores, but chances are they aren't quite authentic, says Ghaffari.

"They're nowhere near what the Cuban sandwich is like," he says.

Ghaffari knows a little something about authentic Cuban sandwiches. His mother is Cuban and he spends two months each year in Miami.

The Oasis also offers beef and chicken empanadas with cilantro and spicy Caribbean dipping sauces. And for dessert, new this year is an apple caramel empanada.

Ghaffari opened The Oasis at the Grange Fair five years ago with chef Jack Evans whipping up each dish.

"Everybody has gyros and everybody has fries, so I thought, 'what can I bring that no one else has here,'" says Ghaffari.

The Oasis also has the kids covered with grilled cheese, peanut butter and jelly, and peanut butter and banana sandwiches.

Not far away at R&S Diner, folks can find slider burgers made with grass fed cattle raised in Pennsylvania, says owner Dan Royer of Morrisdale.

"You don't get any better beef than this. It has a different flavor to it compared to going to the store and buying beef," says Royer.

Royer runs four stands at the fair, offering fried vegetables, french fries and chicken tenders. But he says the slider burgers are the most popular.

The fair also offers other food favorites like peanuts and frosted almonds at the Peanut Shoppe and popcorn - including caramel and cheddar - made and sold by Jennifer Smeltzer and her husband Tim Smeltzer of Lamar.

"I actually grew up here in Centre Hall. I've never missed a fair and I'm 48 years old. It's a tradition," says Tim Smeltzer. "This is one of our favorite events. It's just a traditional thing."

For the full fair schedule, click HERE.

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Photo Gallery - Grange Fair Food

Jennifer Miller is a reporter for She has worked in journalism since 2005. She's covered news at the local, state and national level with an emphasis on crime and local government.
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