Courtney Sargent, Deseret News
Wayne Burrell of Box Elder County takes a break on a bench at the horse arena before riding on the opening day of the Utah State Fair on Thursday.

The Utah State Fair kicked off its new season Thursday with magicians, music, snakes — and the debut of the deep-fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Inventor Jon Searle uses circular-shaped bread filled with peanut butter and strawberry jelly to create the unusual treat. He inserts a stick, dips it in his special recipe batter and fries it in oil.

Searle then tops it off with chocolate syrup and powdered sugar.

"After people try them, they can't believe how good they are," he said.

So good Searle hopes to sell all 10,000 that he has in inventory. He also has other deep fried foods on his menu.

"Snickers, Oreos, Twinkies are the staples of the deep fried fair diet," he said.

A magician wearing a velvet top hat strolled the grounds on opening day, showing children magic tricks. He stunned the crowd when a participant's card ended back on top of the deck after shuffling. He

perplexed a little girl when he stuffed a yellow scarf in his fist and pulled out a red one.

Josh Eversten and his country band Quickdraw sang mostly original songs along with some covers. He asked the audience why they were out on a Thursday afternoon.

"You must not have day jobs, like us," he quipped.

In Danny Conner's Reptile Adventures, Sparticus — the 90-110 year-old alligator snapping turtle — showed his dislike of being out of the water by opening his mouth all the way in a silent roar. Other reptiles at the show included snakes, which handlers let children touch.

Kylie Reid, 9, from Richfield, wore one of the snakes like a necklace and said it "felt slimy."

Exhibitors in the Dairy and Beef buildings were primping their cattle, getting them ready to show. Grooming cattle for show is a serious activity, according to Keynon Taylor of Payson, who works for his family's cattle ranch. He supervised his two daughters while they brushed their newly washed and blow-dried steer.

The hair needs to be brushed in the same direction on the body of the cow, he explained, to make the cow "look like a square." Then he applies hair spray to make the coat glisten.

The better the cow looks, the more likely it is to attract a buyer, Taylor said.

Not all groomers are selling their cows. Jason and Gaylen Larsen run a dairy farm in Loa, Wayne County. They bring their dairy cows to show them off.

Gaylen Larsen said he grooms his cows for the same reasons he grooms himself — so they can look their best, which Jason said will "promote their genetics." With clippers in hand, Gaylen trimmed the heifer's coat to make it sleek. He said any imperfections in the animal's body can be disguised with fur, much like covering a bald spot with a comb-over.

The Larsens not only like to showcase their dairy cows but compare them to other's stock, to see how their height, muscle tone and udder size, as well as other things, measure up. They also come for the camaraderie.

"I like to meet with fellow dairymen," Gaylen said.

In the sheep exhibit, the sheep all wore coats with their past titles emblazoned on them. A sheep handler ate a rice-crispy treat while he shore a sheep to the skin. It bleated in protest.

The animal exhibits were the reason Steve and Dixie Shore, who were sharing apple covered funnel cake, came to the fair. Steve said as a kid he liked the midway but said the exhibits were his fancy now. They judged the funnel cake as "good."

The Utah State Fair is running daily through Sept. 14.

If you go . . .

What: Utah State Fair

Where: Utah State Fairpark, 155 N. 1000 West

When: Daily through Sept. 14, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., until 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays

How much: $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and children 6-12, children under 5 free

Friday's events: Vanessa Hudgens, 5 p.m. (tickets on sale at SmithsTix); Maxinettes, 11 a.m.; Jed Brown Band, 12:30 p.m.; Kemari, 2 p.m.; Paul Green School of Rock, 3:30 p.m.; Jamie Leigh and Backstage, 5 p.m.; Smiling Souls, 6:30 p.m.; Jagertown, 8 p.m.; The New Nervous, 9:30 p.m.

Information: or call 538-FAIR

E-mail: [email protected]