The specialty foods pavilion at the Fryeburg Fair was packed Sunday, the fair’s opening day. Most vendors were offering free samples. Submitted photo

FRYEBURG — Walking around the Fryeburg Fair on opening day is an overwhelming experience.

Taste testers Tucker Barber, left, Thaddeus Gunther and Neeshi Hullavarad decide Sunday which flavor of Ray’s Mustard to try at the Fryeburg Fair in Fryeburg. Vanessa Paolella/Sun Journal

After making it past the lines of cars, finding a parking spot and getting inside, you’re greeted with a sprawling maze of buildings, amusement rides and food stands selling everything from “tatchos” to deep-fried Oreos.

If I could have tried it all, I would have.

Instead, I took a stop by the specialty foods pavilion for a more intimate exploration of Maine and New Hampshire’s local delights. With a couple of dozen vendors offering free samples, it was a fantastic opportunity to taste some of the freshest food on the market.

From sauces to jellies and cheese to honey, the pavilion is to be full of treats until Sunday, the fair’s last day.

And like all good food, it is better with company. Accompanying me on this mini food tour were my dear friends Neeshi Hullvarad and western Maine natives Tucker Barber and Thaddeus Gunther.


Read on for a sampling of the local specialty foods offered at the fair, with a few choice comments from the Sun Journal’s designated critics.


Small shots of Ass Over Teakettle’s bloody Mary mixers were available for tasting Sunday at the Fryeburg Fair. Owner Katherine Quinn, a ninth generation Cornville resident, is at right. Vanessa Paolella/Sun Journal

Location: Cornville

Wares: Bloody Mary mixers and specialty sauces

Additional information: Owner Katherine Quinn is just as sassy as the name of her brand, “Ass over Teakettle.”

An idiomatic phrase about taking a tumble is perhaps perfect for the alcoholic mixers she sells.


The sauces’ humble tagline: “Even if you don’t like it, ‘it’s better than a poke in the eye!'”

Critics’ comments:

Gunther, original mix: “What I liked about it is a lot of tomato products end up kind of sweet, and that’s not necessarily what you want in a bloody Mary. This was just fresh, crisp. If you wake up, you had a rough night, this is exactly what you’d want in the morning.”

Hullvarad, original mix: “It was very balanced. You could taste that it was fresh, and I think that it would be very versatile.”

Barber, Blackie’s golden BBQ: “it had both your barbecue and your mustard flavors. Good for those who are efficient with their condiments, very tasty.”



Todd Simcox, owner of Todd’s Salsa, shares a sample of his spicy ghost pepper salsa Sunday at the Fryeburg Fair. Vanessa Paolella/Sun Journal

Location: Bangor

Wares: Salsas

Additional information: Started as a hobby in a home kitchen in Bangor, Todd’s Salsa has grown to offer 11 kinds of salsa from mild to ghost pepper.

Critics’ comments:

Gunther, ghost pepper: “The flavor is outstanding, but it was completely matched by the heat. I haven’t cried this much since ‘Titanic.'”

Hullvarad, medium: “It was definitely better than store-bought salsa.”


Barber, maple: “It was a mix of sweet and spicy.”


Springdale Farm in Waldo displays a variety of cheeses, including flavored cream cheese spreads, Sunday at the Fryeburg Fair. Vanessa Paolella/Sun Journal

Location: Waldo

Wares: Cheese and meats

Additional information: Made from fresh Jersey and Guernsey cow milk, Springdale Farm offers a variety of hard cheeses, flavored cream cheeses and meats from its four-generation dairy farm in Waldo.

Critics’ comments:


Gunther, chive and garlic cream cheese: “After such a spicy salsa, the chive cream cheese really cut it. It was super smooth and soft. It wasn’t overpowering at all, it just tasted fresh and authentic.”

Hullvarad, Katahdin cheddar: “This cheese was so soft I felt like I got it straight from the cow.”

Barber, chive and garlic cream cheese: “The right amount of kick without overpowering the cream cheese flavor.”


Sandra Dwight-Barris, owner of Grey Goose Gourmet Pepper Jellies in Wayne, displays jars of a dozen variations of her mother’s original pepper jelly recipe Sunday at the Fryeburg Fair. Vanessa Paolella/Sun Journal

Location: Wayne

Wares: Pepper jellies


Additional information: Sandra Dwight-Barris makes batches of her pepper jellies at home in her licensed kitchen. Many of the ingredients for her jellies are sourced from local farms, and at times even her own home garden.

The original recipe is her mother’s.

“She passed that down to me 30-odd years ago and told me never to share the recipe,” Dwight-Barris said.

She has expanded on the original recipe to create more than a dozen varieties of pepper jellies.

Critics’ comments:

Gunther, hot apricot: “The heat was a really great addition to the apricot because it kind of brought out the aromatics in the apricot, giving it a spicy but flowery taste that I think would go great on a pork or chicken dish.”


Hullavard, fig, raspberries, oranges, fresh ginger, FROG: “It was hopping. It slid down my throat smoothly, (but it also) had a bit of a crunch.”

Barber, pumpkin curry: “(It) was very good, a flavor I was not expecting. It tasted like fall, but also very rich and flavorful.”


Phil Pelletier, owner of Smokin’ Tin Roof in Manchester, New Hampshire, describes the flavored sauces available for sampling Sunday at the Fryeburg Fair. Smokin’ Tin Roof offers a variety of mustards and specialty sauces. Vanessa Paolella/Sun Journal

Location: Manchester, New Hampshire

Wares: Specialty sauces

Additional information: Started by a husband-and-wife duo, Smokin’ Tin Roof offers an array of spicy sauces that offer more than just pain and suffering.


According to their website, the Pelletiers grow ghost peppers from seed, harvesting and fire-roasting them by hand for their sauces.

Their sauces range from bacon stout mustard to spiced pumpkin butter.

Critics’ comments:

Gunther, Smoky Peppah hot sauce: “It’s great, very smoking, full-mouth heat from the tip of the tongue all the way to the back of the throat. Spicy, but very enjoyably so. Lots of flavor, not just there to hurt you.”

Hullvarad, Grow a Pear sauce: “It was sweet, with enough spice that I enjoyed it, but not too much that I wanted to stick my mouth in a bowl of sugar.”

Barber, “In the Buff”: “Good mix of spicy and tangy.”



Natasha Dana, an employee of Raye’s Mustard in Eastport, describes the process for making the beer-infused mustards  Sunday to visitors at the Fryeburg Fair. Raye’s has nine beer-infused mustards created in collaboration with Maine and Massachusetts breweries. Vanessa Paolella/Sun Journal

Location: Eastport

Wares: Mustards

Additional information: Raye’s Mustard has numerous collaborations with Maine-based breweries to create a line of “beer-infused” mustards.

According to employee Natasha Dana, the mustard seeds are soaked in the beverage of choice, then ground to make the mustard.

Recently, the company partnered with Ricker Hill Farms in Turner to create a “Mainiac Mac” apple mustard. Other collaborations include Shipyard Brewing Co. and Sea Dog Brewing Co.


Critics’ comments:

Gunther, Ricker Hill Farms Mainiac Mac apple mustard: “Immediately there’s a lot of spice mustard flavor, but it’s quickly balanced by undertones of apple in almost kind of an aged sense from the hard (cider).”

Hullvarad, Ricker Hill Farms Mainiac Mac apple mustard: “It was surprising.”

Barber, Ricker Hill Farms Mainiac Mac apple mustard: “The whole mustard seeds added a nice texture.”


Wilbur’s of Maine chocolate confections in Freeport sells flavors of Maine Mud chocolate and caramel sauces Sunday in the specialty foods pavilion at the Fryeburg Fair. Vanessa Paolella/Sun Journal

Location:  Freeport


Wares: Chocolates and confections

Additional information: Unique to Wilbur’s of Maine are the Maine Mud chocolate and caramel sauces. Its website promotes the sauces as a tasty addition to everything from ice cream to waffles.

In autumn, the store offers an array of trail mixes with chocolate-covered nuts and berries.

Critics’ comments:

Gunther, chocolate-covered peanut: “Smooth, rich and creamy.”

Hullvarad, chocolate-covered peanut: “The chocolate to peanut ratio was quite exquisite. I felt like I was actually getting protein out of it, like it wasn’t just a dessert.”

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