Pancakes! The ten day celebration mixed up three free pancake breakfasts held on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings from 7-9am at the Cheyenne Depot Plaza. Last year over 27,000 total people were fed over the three breakfasts. The crowds are huge but do not be deterred! The lines move fast, the queues are well organized, and there are plenty of volunteers making sure things run smoothly. While moving towards the end of the line you'll see pancakes being tossed in the air caught by local boy scouts, as well as a cement truck they use to mix the batter. I consider myself a bit of a pancake connoisseur and these pancakes pass the pancake test; great flavor, just the right amount of fluffiness, and browned to perfection. As a pancake purist I normally take my cakes with just butter, but I did try the syrup and along with the Hormel ham the breakfast is not to be missed.
Insider tip: Arrive towards the end and they might let you take a pile of cakes home, wrapped in foil. Pancakes travel well!
Kettle Corn! What is kettle corn? Up until a decade ago I had no idea. Throw your conventional understanding of popcorn out the window and prepare your taste buds for one of food's best combinations - sweet and salty. Kettle corn has a crunchy sugar crust with salt sprinkled throughout. In each bag you usually have some "golden nuggets" which are clumps of popcorn held together by caramelized sugar. Yum! As the name indicates, this specialty popcorn is cooked in a huge 500 pound kettle. Bryan, owner of Poppin' Ranch of Colorado Springs, gave me a behind the scenes tour of his kettle that cooks 5 pounds of kernels in 90 seconds. "The key is heating up the kettle to 460-480 degrees in order for the kernels to expand," Bryan said. Needless to say, it was very hot over his kettle that burns 60,000 btus. His daughter, Cheyenne, sold me their largest bag and as usual, little made it home. Hey, it's always best fresh out' the kettle. Kettle Corn is usually available from a vendor at the Wild Horse Gulch (free entry).
Bison Burgers! Let's face it - Americans love to eat cow. On average, Americans eat over 60 pounds of beef every year. A much healthier alternative to beef is bison. In fact, bison has 70% to 90% less fat compared to beef, 50% less cholesterol, and it is higher in protein, iron and all the omega and amino acids. Okay okay, but how does it taste? Bison tastes like a very non-greasy slightly sweeter burger. Because it has much less fat, unlike beef, the flavor comes from the meat itself and not the fat juices. Don't get me wrong the bison burger is not dry; you are just less likely to go through multiple napkins eating one. The Frontier Days Bison Burger is available at the Indian Village (free entry) and is served with baked beans with jalapeno and red potato skin salad. Cooked to order, they are worth it! Be careful not to like them too much though as bison meat is difficult to find in most parts of the country.
Indian Tacos! Hidden under all that cheese, lettuce, ground beef, refried beans, olives and tomatoes is indian fry bread (which alone topped with honey and powdered sugar makes a great treat too!). All the toppings on this baby makes it a meal! Difficult to eat without a fork, the Frontier Days Indian Taco is available at the Indian Village (free entry). Add some sour cream on top to finish off this colorful lunch or dinner.
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