This is the final day of the 2012 Minnesota State Fair.
Today’s guest post comes from Barbara in Robbinsdale.
I had never really understood why there’s all that hype around The Great Minnesota Get-Together. My family didn’t go to the Iowa State Fair when I was growing up, and the Marshall County Fair was not thrilling. To me, the State Fair looked like a hot, crowded, dusty and smelly place that made me tired and cranky. Turns out the buildings are so old they aren’t even air conditioned. I would always try to resist buying too much fried food. I ended up walking clear out of my way to find things, retracing steps because I didn’t know where things were in relation to each other. I allowed myself only a few hours at the fairgrounds because I didn’t think there was much that interested me.
Until now, that is. I see that what you need is a “guide” who loves the fair and has been going for decades, really knows their way around so you don’t have to constantly consult a map. It helps if the guide likes some of the same things you like, especially a variety of foods and beverages. It helps if the guide will sit down when you want to sit down, and get you up and moving again with some new enticement.
Here are some things I’ve learned now that I have been guided at The Fair:
1. Take out a small loan to cover costs.
2. Bring a spare pair of comfortable shoes for when your feet get tired, in a backpack or some bag easy to sling over your shoulder, to hold all the stuff you will pick up along the way.
3. If you’re parking at a Shuttle Bus Lot, remember to factor in, time-wise (if you’re meeting someone), the fact that the shuttle will probably be making other stops before landing at the gate. And REMEMBER THE NAME OF YOUR LOT for the return trip.
4.If meeting your friends at the Fair, choose a place near something interesting where there are plenty of benches and freedom to browse. Rather than a set meeting time, pick a time range, i.e. “between 10 and 10:30”.
5. Give yourself at least an hour for the Fine Arts Building so you can find Hans’ (PJ’s husband’s) photo of Milwaukee Avenue.
6. Don’t try to avoid eating – just accept that you will eat and drink plenty of stuff you ordinarily wouldn’t, and it will not kill you. Try something you’ve never heard of, like (OMG) the Australian Battered Potatoes (heavenly without any sauce, thank you). If it looks like way too much food (largely because it’s the 4th food stand you’ve been to), you can split it with a friend, making it almost affordable, or take some home.
7. If there is an event (like ice cream tasting) scheduled at a set time, plan your itinerary around that, especially if Beth-Ann is going to win the prize for creating the ice cream flavor.
8. Don’t forget the Horticulture Building – there is beer sampling, and a display of seed mosaics not to be missed. (There are even rather funny political ones by left-leaning souls.)
9. Ask at an information booth – near the animal buildings – for directions to the llamas (staffers in the far flung booths only pretend to know).
10. It’s ok to let the llamas nibble on you fingers. BRING YOUR CAMERA (which I forgot) so you can get a photo of the llama giving your guide a kiss.
11. Be sure to see the chickens or rabbits, whatever is housed in the Sheep/Poultry Barn – you would NOT BELIEVE how many different sizes and colors of chickens there are! (Unfortunately, goats were not present that day.)
12. Let yourself get teary at all the beauty you will encounter – this only happened to me about a dozen times, as I observed such exquisite masterpieces grown or created by ordinary people among whom I spend my days here in Minnesota.
All in all, I had a wonderful day at the Fair, and can now understand why people go again and again (and again and again). Next time I’ll bring the camera.
(Add your own tips if you like.)
When have you relied on a guide?