State Fair!

Today’s post comes from Verily Sherrilee

I love the Fair.

I’m unapologetic about my love of the State Fair. I know that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea but from the first time I walked through the arches on Snelling, I was hooked.  I love the animals, I love all the educational buildings, I love the butter heads, I love the art, I love the parade.  But most of all I love the people-watching.

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This year I went to the Fair three times: once all by myself, once with Young Adult and once with friends for Garrison Keillor’s show. I have a fun memory from each day.

On opening day, as I was sitting on the curb, waiting for the parade to start, a father and son came to sit in the space next to me. As they sat, the son (probably 11 or 12) let out a huge groan.  I couldn’t help but laugh and so did the dad.  I said to him “I expect to hear that kind of groan from myself or from your dad, but not from someone your age.”  Without missing a beat, the kid leaned over and said “I’m a catcher.  I have old knees.”  I almost snorted by water up my nose.

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On the day with Young Adult, we did the Bunny Barn first. I call the Young Adult “The Bunny Whisperer” because she has a way with the rabbits. Most of the rabbits sit near the back of their cages so that they can’t be reached.  Young Adult slips her hand into the cage and then waits.  One after another, the bunnies move to her side of the cage and let her pet them.  She probably has an 80% success rate.  It’s amazing.   Of course this means that we spend A LOT of time in the Bunny Barn and she usually suggests that we go home with a rabbit.  At one point I turned to her and said again “No, we can’t have a bunny.”  She replied, “I know, it would just be fodder for Guinevere.”  I was so excited that she knew the word “fodder” that I almost wept!

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On Friday I got to the fair in time for the parade. As the little kids’ farm train went by, in the last car I noticed a little boy (probably 8 or 9) doing the Vulcan salute.  I quickly flashed the salute in return; his face lit up and he gave me a huge thumb’s up.  Finally my ability to do “live long and prosper” has come in handy!

It was the best fair ever!

 Are you a fair person or not?

80 thoughts on “State Fair!”

      1. Nothing that interesting. We go every few years, almost always arriving early in the morning when the animal barns first open, then making a circuit through the horticulture building, the creative arts and fine arts buildings and sometimes under the grandstand. I like to be out of there by noon, when it starts getting crowded.
        I don’t find the crowds fascinating or the people watching engaging. Rather, I experience venues like the fair with a kind of foreignness that I’ve never experienced in an actual foreign place.
        I also tend to shy away from anything that feels ritualized; I know that we make our fair visits ritual by always doing the same things, but I’m not that drawn to enough other things there to justify changing. My fair experience is always the same. Repeating it is superfluous.

        Liked by 2 people

  1. We went to the fair on our honeymoon. I love the fair, especially the animal barns, the 4-H exhibits., the prize home canned goods. I exhibited some horticulture projects at the State Fair as a teenager and stayed in the large 4-H dorm on the fairgrounds. The bunks were triple deckers . It wasn’t air conditioned, and the windows were always open. The fair grounds are surprisingly quiet at night.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I make a yearly pilgrimage. It’s generally only one trip per year, not three – but there needs to be a wander past the grandstand for mini donuts, a meander through the animal barns to look into the big eyes of a cow and to once again say, “gosh I wish I could have a goat” (thus far my desire for a goat has not outweighed desire to live within walking distance of the library, grocery store, and several decent restaurants). Darling Daughter loves to go on rides and we have learned to bring a friend so that Husband and I don’t have to “rock, paper, scissors” for the rides neither of us like…and did I mention the mini donuts?

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Ha! I didn’t even think about the food when I was writing. I am not very adventurous at the Fair – believe it or not, I’m not there to eat. Young Adult likes the potato cheese crepe; the day isn’t complete for me without Hawaiian Shave Ice.

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  3. Not. But you’re way-y-y-y cooler than you let on, VS! 😉

    Last visit to the fair was to see Manhattan Transfer at the Grandstand about 30 years ago. After the show, we strolled through the animal barns until about midnight. Very peaceful there at that time of day. many of the 4-H kids were sleeping in the barns near their respective animals.

    A good memory, but we’re not into crowds, so we tend to avoid fairs, festivals, rock concerts, and pro sports except for the occasional Twins game with Little Brothers

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 4 people

      1. I thank my sister for opening my eyes to a cappella music. I’ve been a huge fan of Man Tran, Take Six, the Blenders, and many more ever since. Don’t forget Sam Robson! (My all time fave)

        Chris

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        1. laura masse tried a solo career after dearting the manhatten transfer and failed miserabley. i saw her at the artist quarters in south minnealpolis 25 years ago and told her i loved her album and she said yeah oyu and 4 other people.
          i saw them recently at the dakota with 200 oter people. wow. big show for a small venue. now that the lead guy died is suspect the band will end its road trips but who knows you could just plug a guy in. see journey and keep singing to the boomers.

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        2. I saw them at the Dakota too, tim. Last year, but they had a new soprano because Cheryl Bentyne was ill. At that performance they announced that Tim Hauser had died (If I recall correctly). Might have been later that I heard that news.

          C in O-town

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    1. Reminds me of going to see Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie at the grandstand years and years ago. Concert was fabulous. Seeing the fairgrounds after most everything was closed up for the night was equally memorable. It was quiet enough that we could hear the not-yet-turned-off recording hawking a giant whale or some such – a last remnant of the sideshows and carnies. It became a running gag
      With that group of friends to end any statement with, “and if it’s not for real, we’ll
      give you the truck!” We eventually found the truck, but none of us to the recorded device up on its offer.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. While I enjoy the State Fair, it is not my first choice. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the Renaissance Festival. After a 20-yr hiatus, we finally went again last fall for my birthday (Oct 2) and then again on Labor Day for my oldest son’s birthday. I love the food, the artisans, the bawdy entertainment, the gentle music and the overall ambiance of just walking around and observing all the characters and folks in costumes.

    My oldest just turned 27 (a former Marine), so we spent some time talking to the gentleman who makes hand-forged swords and knives. Absolutely beautiful stuff. Nick definitely wants to buy a $3500 sword at some point. Very tempting for me, too. Did I mention this artisan had some serious scars on his face and wore a massive amount of his own handmade jewelry that I seriously coveted as well? Now those are interesting characters to have a conversation.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh my — sorry we missed you! We saw jousting, the Danger Committee (hilarious!), the Viking Encampment Weapons demo, bought some hand made goat milk soap and a handmade & dyed silk scarf. Ate a gyro, walked around a lot and totally enjoyed myself!

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        1. We also saw “Danger” and Tuey and I even dragged YA to Puke & Snot. No henna this year since the weather wasn’t conducive. Lots of dog petting!

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        2. I somehow missed Puke & Snot even though I walked by their stage several times. They’re like … older than me, right? Didn’t one of them die a few years back?

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        3. The original Snot passed away about 7-8 years ago. The new Snot is good, but I did really like the original guy. But they are very funny and I like that they change up their act every year (although some of the jokes are the same). YA just rolls her eyes and insists that we sit in the back where it’s “safer”.

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  5. Aw MAN, I didn’t get there this year. I pretty much avoided the Fair until I went one year with our Linda – who not only knows her way around (so we didn’t have to consult maps and waste precious steps backtracking), but also favors a lot of the same things I do – think llamas, art, craft beers, and Australian Battered Potatoes. Since then I’ve loved it and gone every year till now.

    Delightful, VS, and LOL at “I was so excited that she knew the word “fodder” that I almost wept!” I think I would like to stay late some time and

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I don’t like the big crowds, the greasy food, and all the commercial booths. I do like some of the better food, the animals, and many of the buildings housing displays including the horticultural building. I have heard some very good music there on a few occaisions.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I know folks who look for specific bands at different places, but I’m a flyby. If some music strikes me as I’m passing, I’ll sit for a few minutes. I do like to watch the couples who dance, usually in the afternoons at the DNR stage.

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  7. Dare I say it? I hate going to the Fair. I get overwhelmed (in a bad way) by all the stuff, people, noise, food, smells, and did I mention the noise?

    Last time I went was with youngest daughter several years back – back when she was a youngish teenager (she is 21 now). I came back so exhausted by everything that I swore I would never return. And I have stuck to it. Now both my middle daughter and youngest daughter dislike the fair, but not because of anything I said. Middle daughter because she lived a few blocks from the fair shortly after the twins were born – and she got sick of the never-ending noise and the traffic and the smell of grease in the air. Youngest daughter worked at the fair one year and ever since she has not wanted to go back.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are absolutely allowed to hate going to the Fair. Let’s face it, if there weren’t folks like you and Bill, then it would be way more crowded than it already is. I don’t mind waiting a bit for my Hawaiian Shave Ice but history has shown (back when there was only one Martha’s Sweet Cookies outlet {there are THREE now}) that there is a limit to how long I’ll wait for fair food!

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Having three outlets has really helped. A few years back, YA and I stood in line for about 15 minutes for cookies and had hardly moved more than a foot in line. We bagged it, stopped at Kowolskis on the way home and BOUGHT Martha’s cookie dough, went home and baked them ourselves. And we probably STILL got them faster than if we stayed in line. And we certainly got them cheaper!

          I will cop to having cookies for breakfast on my day on own.

          Liked by 2 people

      1. I’ll confess to wondering what the big deal is with Sweet Martha’s cookies. They taste fine, but are pretty expensive. The thing that really bothers me, though, is that whatever size you buy, they put the cookies in a container that is about half the size it should be for the quantity of cookies. There are flattened cookies all over the fairgrounds, melted onto the pavement. How wasteful, and really stupid. I doubt I will ever buy them again.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. This is why we always bring a ziplock bag. And why we never buy the bucket because once they get cold and they are at home they’re not nearly as much fun as at the fair.

          Liked by 1 person

  8. I did not go to any grandstand shows – usually don’t – but i caught a few of the musical acts that were playing for free. The Irish Brigade played at one of the stages, a nice diversion while I was waiting for the hort building to open up the flower exhibits after judging. A swing duo calling themselves Justin and Kyle were playing at Mancini’s, and a country trio called Two Hicks and a Chick were at one of the other food places, I forget which one. You get all kinds of music at the fair.

    Overheard in the home improvement building – wife: “That’s what you said last year.” Husband: “Yeah, but I’m actually gonna do it this year.”

    Liked by 4 people

  9. I only go every other year or so. I have learned from experience that animals are swapped out on Weds or Thurs and leave at about 3:00 on Labor Day so I avoid those times.
    I finally got to see a calf being born this year. Because of large numbers of people, I ended up watching most of it on the TV but it was cool to actually be there. (not everyone’s cup of tea, I’m SURE).

    Liked by 2 people

  10. With the delightful weather this year I was tempted to go. However, I am not a huge crowd person, and don’t care for much of the food, so I hit the fair only rarely. I think the last time I went was when Bonnie Raitt performed (prior to this year’s appearance). A few hours is plenty for me – as opposed to my brother-in-law who went 5 times for most of the day this year. If I could be like Samantha Stevens and just twitch my nose to get to what I wanted to see and return home the same way, I might be more inclined to go.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I’ve told this before, but here’s one of my favorite state fair memories:
    Husband’s long lost son (and therefore my step-son) showed up May of 1998, when he was 21 – till then I’d only met him once when he was five. Long story… we had lost track of where he was. We were all instant friends; my son (then 17) was ecstatic to find a brother, and we imported Mario again at the end of the summer. One thing he’d never done was attend a State Fair, so we four joyously headed on over to the Great Minnesota Get-together and had a rollicking day… the two “boys” went off by themselves and, I imagine, had lots of male-bonding experiences. I don’t remember what Husband and I did besides eat and ride the double ferris wheel, which I haven’t seen lately…?

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  12. For those who don’t like crowds, you might consider going on Tuesday, which is traditionally the lowest attendance day of the fair. Also any day when the forecast calls for rain is a good bet for low attendance. I’ve had some very enjoyable days at the fair when it showered a little in the morning. Keeps the crowds down and you feel like you have the place to yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And if you’re a morning person, the fair doesn’t really start to get seriously crowded until about noon. So that 8 a.m. to noon time period is pretty sweet!

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  13. Not a fair person.Long ago three of my workmates and I went to the Norman County Fair in Ada, Minnesota. One of the guys foolishly got caught up in one of the rigged carnival games. You threw darts at a board with balloons attached for a few dollars a throw. You needed to get to 100. Of course he lost money as there was no combination of hits that would equal that number. But to continue playing in the hopes of winning, he sold me his stereo and golf clubs. No luck. Now out of money, the guy was hot. The carny worker told him to get out from under his awning. My workmate did and “invited” the carny to come out with him. The carny presented himself along with all the other carnival workers on the midway. There must have been some secret sign that summoned the reinforcements. There was lots of yelling as the group shepherded the four of us out into the parking lot. There was no way I was going to get into fight over this, so I retreated to my car and escaped. It turned out there was no fight but there was fright.

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      1. I was a junior in high school so the event really impressed me. Also “impressive” was watching Jack Blanchard and Misty Morgan performing Tennessee Birdwalk.

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      1. Both were a curse and a blessing. First the stereo. With the need for LPs to play on it, I joined the Columbia Record Club. Remember the 12 recordings for a dollar thingy? (It could have been less than that.) Well, I was down with that deal. Made my picks. Got my albums. Started getting all sorts of nonessential stuff monthly. Didn’t return them in the prescribed time. Debt accumulated. Threatening letters followed. Fear. Loan from parents to pay for artists I would never hear from again. More fear. Then LPs are out. 8 track is in then out in favor of cassette. Cassette in favor of disk. I have not nor will I ever catch up with music technology. The blessing was those nonessential artists included The Brothers Johnson, The Chambers Brothers and Janis Joplin.
        As for golf, that affliction started with scoring a birdie on a par three soon after the fair. I have never scored one since. That is the curse of golf (and playing the lottery). There are no blessings with golf except the 19th hole

        Liked by 1 person

    1. doesnt get any better than that. fighting with a guy who’s iq matches the number of teeth he has left is always akick
      tire irons and chains. back to the baldy boot days at the fair.

      a secret signal. they are all couusins ant those small town fairs . a simple nod starts the cain reaction and the marck of the carnies begins.

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      1. Not really, there`s something all of it`s own. A Matsuri- a neighborhood festival- lots of food and various sorts of dancing with a small shrine hoisted and paraded down the street on the shoulders of several cheering individuals. Lots of beer and sake. Space/land is so limited that something like a fair isn`t practical- it has to be used all year and it must produce something. There are festivals that celebrate an aspect of the culture- for instance, there`s one in Northern Japan dedicated to giant ice sculptures and fish – but nothing really like a state fair!

        Liked by 1 person

  14. I’m sorry to have failed to support TB with a comment. I’m fighting a colossal battle with illness, and in my clear moments I have reflected on the question.

    Am I a Fair person? Yes and no. Everything in me recoils from the Fair’s excesses. The Fair is hot, crowded, noisy, exhausting, smelly and expensive. This shy introvert is shocked by the celebration of excess and questionable taste. I’ve spent a lifetime cultivating an appreciation of the subtle and artful. How could I find the Fair anything less than a horrific assemblage of lusty, boisterous and bizarre displays? I’m a guy who has lived way too much inside his head for my whole life. So I’m at the fair and I turn a corner and there is the largest pig in Minnesota, with balls so massive I realize I’ll be thinking of them the rest of the week.

    The Minnesota Fair is a sort of joke I play upon myself. The rest of my life is for being Steve: tasteful, cautious and discerning. The Fair is for turning all of that upside down, for being Not Steve for a few hours. I disappear into black maw of Ye Olde Mill and emerge minutes later giddily laughing about the tackiest experience of my life. Still laughing, wearing quite a bit of my girlfriend’s lipstick, I head off to look at that damn pig again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Steve, I was thinking of you when I looked at the crop art this year as I remember you were nostalgic about it. There were several Prince homage pieces this year but none of them as good as Lillian Colton’s piece a few years ago.

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        1. When I was choosing photos for Dale to add, I thought “I have to have crop art!” The first time I saw crop art at the fair, I was nonplussed. Being a born and bred city girl it never occurred to me that people actually made art from seeds. I just read a book about Lillian Colton last week. I didn’t realize until then that any seeds/grains used have to be listed and have to be Minnesota grown!

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    2. I can’t say it ever occurred to me to be affronted by the giant pig, but I remember as a youngster being disturbed by the canvases for the freak shows— “The Alligator Boy”, “The Spider Woman”, etc.— in the midway. Does anybody remember the giant pair of overalls hanging near machinery hill?

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  15. OT: I’m sitting outside watching the twins play in the sandbox and it’s so cool that I’m wearing a long-sleeve shirt for the first time in a long time. I LOVE THIS WEATHER.

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    1. I am out on my patio in a jacket drinking coffee. Good and inexpensive coffee after hitting Trader Joe yesterday. Went to see the rheumatologist. It was more pointless than I expected. Declared a few silly things and a diagnosis without doing any examination whatsoever. I am not watching twins alas. I do enjoy watching small children, now that I only watch without responsibility. I am watching mud. Two weeks ago they had to replace cement down the line. So they had make a safe route, not over sprinkler and gas lines. They tore out brush and made a lot of ruts. So they dug up wonderful blue earth out of the woods and rebuilt it all back into lawn. (Yes, the dirt can be blue here in Blue Earth County.) It ended being very soft. They planted seed. Then rains hit and it became a swamp. The grass sprouted nicely, then all these rains hit. then a carpet cleaner truck drove across it when they were told never to come back here. Their hoses can reach anywhere from the front. So I am looking at ruts and the holes where they got stuck. In a brief dried up period I did manage to get out and rehang my feeders. Oops. Along came maintenance guy and owner of cleaning company. Still rather be watching twins in a sandbox, twins bot hot The Twins.

      Liked by 3 people

        1. My son was a stay at home dad for a few months with an infant. He said he got desperate for adult conversation. When he did get out he could not shut up.

          Liked by 1 person

  16. Hello —

    Years and years ago when I was a 4H’er, I won a state fair trip.
    Slept in the triple bunk beds w/ no AC as Reneeinnd said. AND I got pulled for kitchen duty for breakfast.
    Of course I thought my life was ruined at that point.

    Don’t remember dealing w/ breakfast.
    I do remember hanging out with a couple other 4H kids and my sister and her husband coming up and him buying ride tickets. Otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to go on any rides.

    My family was seriously involved in the county fair for many many years. That was one of my favorite weeks as a kid. Mom and Dad ran the ADA milk stand when the all you can drink was a dime.
    And Dad had the Farm Bureau booth and they helped with the malt stand when that first started.
    I had my projects of course.
    Ate a lot of ice cream drumsticks from the 4H concession stand. Didn’t know you could buy them in the grocery store — thought they were special fair food.

    But now days I can’t find time to get to the fair. Haven’t been to the county fair in several years. Haven’t been to the state fair since the kitchen duty trip… Maybe that’s what spoiled it for me.
    That and the lack of Machinery Hill…

    Liked by 2 people

  17. I get my fair fix at the local county fair…it’s been years since I was at the state fair…probably 1991 or 92 when I helped man the MPR booth…that was manageable, and just enough time to wander a bit before catching a shuttle back to MPR headquarters. And in my old age, I don’t even crave mini-donuts anymore. So I get my food fix at the local non-profit home cooked food “cafe” — fresh home made pie with ice cream. sweet. I volunteer at the local historical society log cabin exhibit for three full days, plus being the goat show secretary on the fourth day. A few wanders around to see the animals and exhibits. Must say, Carlton County Fair is the best fair in the state. (I’m not prejudice. much)

    But my sweetest state fair memories are the Morning Shows…that was the my highlight of the year. And I finally got to meet Eric Ringrud when he joined MPR officially. So much fun.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. go through your old writings and submitt one with a question tie in from the stuff that you like. your writing is inspirational and the short stories, even the long stories are a wonderfl read. or do the vignettes.
      glad your pt suggested typing
      sorry the twit gives a diagnosis form the hip
      like the guy whose horse had the cough and he asked his buddy what he did when his hore had a cough like that?
      i gave him a quart of turpentine.
      first guys goes home tries it and his horse dies.
      he calls his friend and says so you said you gave your horse a quart of turpentine when he had that cough like my horse?
      yeah thats right.
      well i came home and gave my horse a quart of turpentine and it died.
      yeah mine did too said the second guy

      dont always take the advice of the guy who gives it to you is the moral i think

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  18. i am a fair guy and have passed it on. of my 5 ids 3 are multi time goers and one will go twice . theother is the sy one who went on her own the first time this year to take her firend and discovered she adnt ben paing attention to where we go and it isnt as easy as it looks to go from here to ther if you dont know what you are doing. she went back again with us one mpre time for her third this year and paid closer attention.
    i love the fair and the new stuff i didnt know about.
    this year the pig auctions were good and the 6 horse teams with wagons int he horse show
    new foods and new stuff int ehbuildings. learned about making a still for vodka this year.
    snapped my neck on one of those rides still hurts and realized the good cheese curds are the ones ove rby the horse barn not the food building
    the kids in fort of the midway are a kick. they just stand there. and if you stand there too you see why. it is the best show ever action people part conversations. a riot
    it doesnt surprise me that bil desnt like the fair. we are reading two boks for book club this month one i love one i hate. i was trying to think of who would like to tread this and remembered bill chirped that he like the book when it was posted.
    different strokes for different folks.
    i never do the same things twice. its like never being able to step int the smae river. the water is always different.
    thanks vs
    i hope your wedding goes well. i will be at rock bend tomorrow and will do my best to remember the days with donna and jim vs and bir lind krista and me all listening to folkies we had heard of. this year other than city mouse and one other i dont lnow any of them
    cmon up ben

    Liked by 2 people

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