Monday, September 13, 2010


Minnesota Monday: The State Fair

Back in July, CTL suggested that I devote Mondays to describing things in Minnesota, and this past week several others supported that idea. I like it, and I'm doing it.

Last week, I went to the Minnesota State Fair. I was initially wary of it, based on my own memories of the scary and unstable Michigan State Fair in Detroit, which was canceled this year after a 160-year run and would have made a nice setting for a version of Grand Theft Auto.

I shouldn't have worried. The Minnesota State Fair is a very friendly and fascinating event with no reported fatalities. Everyone seems to love it, and here is the fascinating part: Though it is pretty goofy and cheesy, even the most jaded hipsters seem to enjoy it straight-up rather than ironically. Weird.

Here is what the state fair is about, from what I can tell:

1) The Miracle of Birth Barn. This is an exhibit where they gather every pregnant animal in the state and let the fairgoers watch, well, the miracle of birth. The crowd seemed to be mostly people who thought this was amazing to see and people trying not to throw up.

2) The Fried Food on a stick. From what I can tell, Minnesotans are pretty healthy eaters, but not this week. At the fair, they want their meal deep-fried and impaled on a stick. In addition to walleye on a stick, there is hotdish on a stick and a potato on a stick, among a zillion other options.

3) The Grandstand Shows. This year's selections included Rush, KISS, and Weird Al. I saw Weird Al. Here's the thing-- I ran into some of my students at the concert. They were there without irony. Huh. This place may take some getting used to.

4) The Rides. It's an odd selection, and run by strangely un-creepy looking blond carnies. For example, there was a line to get on "Ye Olde Mill," which involved getting in a boat and then floating past scenes depicted on wood boards held up with sticks. This ride has apparently been running at the fair for 97 years. I'm not sure why.

I'm kind of wondering how Ye Olde Mill and walleye on a stick would fly at the H.O.T. Fair in Waco.

Minnesotans are healthy eaters?
Turns out the "food on-a-stick" phenomenon is universal. Who'da thunk it?
THE State Fair this year features fried butter, fried beer, and fried margaritas, among other truly nutritious entries.

And, of course, for the truly religiously devoted, UT vs. Oklahoma.

No canoe rides, tho.

Hey, I heard some person in TEXAS figured out how to deep fry BEER!
Now that would be interesting.

The NC State Faris is in mid-October when the carnies are heading south for the winter. May have to check it out.

Yes, I'm pretty amazed at the healthy food up here, in restaurants and stores. At least in this area, most people seem very fit, and there is an outrageous amount of running and biking going on. Edina appears to have no fat people at all. It's kind of weird.

It's especially surprising coming from a state located next to Wisconsin.
"next to Wisconsin"... seems like a statement that could get someone in trouble, seeing as we both know a person with a certain affinity for Bucky Badger.

My brother, who has lived in Minnesota for most of the last 15 years says the State Fair is the "Minnesota Meeting Place." Both times I've attended he's run into people from all over the State who know him from old jobs, associations or social settings. Its really pretty amazing.

My favorite thing at the Fair is the fresh, grilled corn on the cob dipped in butter. mmmmmmmmmm
I assumed everyone in Minnesota ate brats, drank copious amounts of beer, and consumed whater lutefisk is (I'm voting for wax).

That said, I am disappointed with the fried "beer," as unworthy of the name. It's basically a fried dough pocket with beer inside. Lame. Someone should just make a good beer breading (I have a recipe!) and flash-fry that. It would end up being a beer-y version of the "crispies" that are the only edible portion of a "meal" from Long John Silver's.
Osler, can this fair really compare to the spectacle that is the State Fair of Texas? I mean, no offense to any other state fairs, but I'm picturing something like what would be set up next to a mall down here..

Also, if you haven't tried the chocolate-covered-strawberry waffle balls at the THE state fair, I highly recommend it. Along with the obligatory corny dog (I prefer the ones jalepeno and cheese) and beer.

Seriously though, what are we talking about in terms of attendance? there doesn't seem to be that many people in your picture, or is that only because of the choice of food?
Dallas ADA--

Attendance was up over 1.7 million this year. It's a huge fair. And I'm in for chocolate covered strawberry walleye balls.
Fact: the State Bird of Minnesota is the walleye, and the state flower is mayonnaise.
And why is SleepyWalleye on a stick? I presume he is not happy with this turn of events.
Sleepy Walleye actually lives in the next town over from me (Eden Prairie) and I have seen him a few times up here.
My favorite thing to do at the fair in New York was get my hair braided with little flowers in it. You should have tried that.
We have a county fair this weekend end. On the menu for battered and deep fried food:

1) Snickers;
2) Oreos;
3) pickles;
4) Twinkies; and
5) Nutty Bars.

I love the fair.
HOT DISH on a stick?? How do they make that work?

Surrre They are walking biking running NOW... But in four months??

leutfisk or however you spell it, is FISH SOAKED IN LYE. Mmmm

My grandmaother was Swedish.

I am appalled that they cancelled the Mich State Fair. Kills me to think of a new generations of Mochiganders missing out on Lobster Boy, mean clowns yelling insults in a dunk tank, the veg o matic guy, a giant cow made of butter and Bottomless Cup Chocolate Milk Day.
That just sucks.
Think of it, Osler. Little kids don't even have a chance to win a dead fish! That is just WRONG.
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