Want weird food at fair? Sink your teeth into gator or shark

At Chester’s Gators & Taters, Jason Cordova of Oxford, New Jersey, serves tasty gator Wednesday afternoon at the Delaware State Fair. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

At Chester’s Gators & Taters, Jason Cordova of Oxford, New Jersey, serves tasty gator Wednesday afternoon at the Delaware State Fair. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

HARRINGTON — A list of things the Delaware State Fair is known for would be quite long, but near the top undoubtedly would be foods.

From unusual treats like fried Oreos to standard fare like hamburgers, almost anything a visitor desires can be found among the booths that line the fairgrounds’ food court.
This year, for the third time, fairgoers can skip the typical fast-food fare and instead sink their teeth into alligator and shark.

Chester’s Gators & Taters, located almost dead-center on the fairgrounds, has been traveling to fairs from Florida to New York for five years, adding Harrington as a stop in 2013.

A tall, eye-catching display urges passers-by to try all sorts of meats, while paintings of a smiling alligator and a grinning shark make clear the stand’s specialty.

“Being a new vendor at the fair, we needed something a little unusual to stand out,” Chester’s Gators & Taters President Cameron Murray said. He named the business after his dog.

The uncommon foods grabbed the eye of fair visitor Sal Millington, of Manchester, Maryland.

Asked why he wanted to try the shark and gator meat, Mr. Millington replied simply, “because it’s weird.”

Munching on the grilled shark-on-a-stick, Mr. Millington said tasting new foods is a necessity for fair visitors.

He described the shark as excellent, noting it tasted like fish and “whatever they put on it, it’s delicious.”

Mr. Millington also purchased an order of gator macaroni and cheese, which consists of gator nuggets on top of a bowl of mac ‘n’ cheese.

The gator tasted like chicken and was not as good as the shark, he said.

Gator-on-a-stick is the most popular food sold by Chester’s, Mr. Murray said. The stand buys gators from a supplier in Florida who catches wild gators, while the shark comes from several vendors on the East Coast. Typically, Chester’s uses blacktip shark meat, one of the most popular kinds of shark meat.

Alligator is sweeter, chewier and tangier than chicken with a texture than falls in between steak and chicken and a taste all its own, while the blacktip shark meat is comparable to scallops, Mr. Murray said.

“Someone that likes seafood would like shark but someone that doesn’t like seafood wouldn’t like the shark,” he said.

The stand also sells more conventional foods like chicken kabobs, fries and pork. Don’t be intimidated by the sign advertising pork butt — the meat actually comes from a pig’s shoulder.

Mr. Murray said the stand plans to return to the Delaware State Fair next year, dog Chester in tow. And for those wondering, no, Mr. Murray does not think Chester has tried the gator or shark meat.

Staff writer Matt Bittle can be reached at 741-8250 or mbittle@newszap.com. Follow @MatthewCBittle on Twitter.

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