Monday, August 18, 2008

It's State Fair Time. Already!

They call it the Great Minnesota Get Together and it starts on Thursday. The state fair's a big deal in these parts with over one and a half million people attending the twelve day event held on 340 acres in St. Paul. I can go and spend an entire day moseying around, something I never do. My dh hates the fair, but I love it. All of it.

Rides and games in the midway. Music in the grandstand. Vehicle exhibits, cars, RVs, boats, tractors. Shopping, beer gardens, home improvements. Various competitions, from gardening to quilting, talent contests to horse shows. My personal favorite, the animal barns. Every year I gotta go see the state’s largest hog.

And then there’s the food. Standard fare like mini-donuts, pronto pups and cotton candy. Midwest favorites like cheese curds and corn on the cob and all you can drink milk. Are Sweet Martha’s chocolate chip cookies a Minnesota thang?

Every year they come up with some new “on-a-stick” treats. I love the pork chops and jerky, but I think they’ve been reaching these past few years. Alligator? Deep fried candy bars? I don’t care if they’re on a stick or not, I’m not interested. Get this one. Ole and Lena’s hot dish on-a-stick? Can’t wait to see that one. Apparently, it comes with a gravy dipping sauce. Eww.

I looked up a food list on the fair’s website and here are some other interesting ones: asparagus and celery (huh?), bug juice (ick), chocolate potato chips (you’ve got to be kidding me), Minnekabobs (cute), and Wilbur beans (what the heck?). Anyone for a Gizmo sandwich?

I have a friend who plans her route around the fair grounds based on where her favorite foods are located. That’s dedication. I just go and meander around, eat way too much, get hot and sticky and leave feeling sick. What a great time.

Are state/county fairs a big deal where you live? Are you a fair goer or is it the kind of thing you have to be dragged to kicking and screaming? What’s your favorite thing to do or eat?

PS And what about that Bigfoot?


Dina said...

Yep, our state has several, but our is the biggest. It just ended a wwek ago, we went and had a great time.

Betina Krahn said...

Helen, I miss the Minne-fest at the end of August. It's a great event and a lot of fun if you can stand the crowds. My biggest problem was always the parking conundrum. If somebody else drives and makes parking decisions, I'm all in.

Florida's state fair takes place sometime in February or something. meh. Not the same thing at all, so I've never been. Maybe if there's something left of the state after the big blow this week, I'll try it out this year!

Michele Hauf said...

Count me as a kicker and a screamer. Just the words 'State Fair' make me shudder in horror. All those people. So close. And touching! Aggh!!!!
The few times I've been in the past years was because Def Leppard played in the grandstands. You have to actually walk through the fair to get to the grandstand. I do it very quickly. :shudder:

Now the hubby goes every year. He volunteers with the church to clean the grandstand after the concerts, so is there four nights, and can go early and do the fair for free. Ugg.

Candace said...

The Indiana State Fair is going on right now down in Indianapolis. I will not be going. Like Michele, too many people all crowded together make me...itchy.

I did spend an hour or so at the local Three Rivers Festival here in Fort Wayne. It was supposed to be an entire afternoon but all those people...and it was HOT! If one must be outside in the heat, it should only be in a hammock, under a tree, with a glass of iced tea close at hand. But I digress...

The Three Rivers Festival does the food-on-a-stick thing, too. This year the new thing was deep-fried Twinkies on a stick. Yes, twinkies. On a stick. Dipped in some kind of batter. Deep-fried. And then rolled in powdered sugar. People were clustered ten deep around the Twinkie stand, clamouring to buy one. And not just kids. Adults, too. I was not one of them.

Liza said...

I love the fair, but the best one near me isn't the state fair, but the Wilson County Fair(Lebanon, TN). More people go to it than the State Fair in Nashville. I love all the food, but especially the corn dogs and hamburgers. We always had "fair burgers" growing up and they were the best.

Playground Monitor said...

When I was a kid, I couldn't wait for county fair time. Now you couldn't pay me enough to go. I hate the smells, and I'm not just talking about the unwashed masses. It's the cotton candy and corn dogs and fried onions and peppers. Just thinking about it makes me want to barf. And if you eat all that stuff and then get on the Tilt-a-Whirl, you WILL barf, and then that smell gets added to the rest.

I loved it when my boys were old enough to go by themselves.

Several girlfriends and I went to the RC and Moon Pie Festival a few years ago in Bell Buckle, TN. It's about 90 minutes north of me. Obviously they have RC cola and Moon Pies, but some enterprising soul came up with deep-fried Moon Pies. The thought of one makes my arteries want to clog.

And regarding Bigfoot? Of course it would be a couple of good ole southern boys to find him. I'll bet if they looked hard enough they could find Jimmy Hoffa too.


Helen Brenna said...

Dina, what state are you in?

This is interesting. Seems people either love or hate the whole fair thing.

Marilyn, what's a moon pie?

Playground Monitor said...

What's a moon pie? It's two round chocolate covered graham cookies with marshmallow cream between them. You can go to and read all about them. I loved them when I was a kid. I think I OD'd on them though because I can't stand them now.

Keri Ford said...

Oh, wow. I want to come stay with you for the week! I'll bring moon pies! Marilyn's right, yummy. But I was always a fan of the banana flavor

I love the fair rides and the food and the exhibits. I love everything! Our county fair has died down over the past several years. either that or I've just gotten older and what used to be all starry eyes isn't so much. Ours is at the end of September, usually the week of my wedding anniv. (5years this time!)

Fiona said...

My DH and I moved to MN from Florida 16 years ago in July. We rented a house because we were not sure we would stay in MN. We went to the state fair twice that August and could not see why anyone would leave MN. LOL Even the long winter that followed didn't get us to move.

every year, we go to the fair on the first Monday-- and see the sheep dog trials before anything else, even fried cheese curds.

After that, we follow Helen's friend's strategy and eat out way through the fair. We even have a neighbor let the dogs in and out so we can stay all day.

PJ said...

I grew up in southern Michigan and went to the county fair every summer. It was a very big deal and I loved it. I live in South Carolina now and the fairs just aren't the same...or maybe I'm not the same.

Helen, I've hear people on the internet (mostly Canadians) talk about cheese curds. What are they exactly? I've never heard of Pronto Pups or Sweet Martha's chocolate chip cookies. I was all about the corn dogs, cotton candy, caramel apples and funnel cake.

I just went to the Minnesota State Fair site and took a gander at all the food. Very interesting...:)

Christie Ridgway said...

I go to the fair on-and-off. I didn't go to our county fair this year, though the kids did. I do remember a great time when they sons were teeny and we visited my brother in Sacramento and our two families went to the California State Fair. It was HOT but a great time.

Our county has beautiful fairgrounds that are right by the beach so the weather's usually wonderful.

Debra Dixon said...

I love a fairgrounds! Quilt competitions. Corn dogs! Corn on the Cob fresh from the boys and girls in the 4-H fundraiser wagon.

We're losing our "Mid-South" fair to a site down the road in another state, so some people are trying to get a second fair on it's feet this year to replace the loss. Why they'd move a fair from a city this size to one much smaller, I don't know. But they are moving it (after something stupid like 150 years) to Tunica which is the Southern gambling mecca. The Las Vegas of the South.

lois greiman said...

I love the poultry. Go figure. I'm taking a couple of horses this year to the MN Fair just to do some fun classes. My daughter rode at the state fair a few years ago and it was crazy. Having our gelding there was like being with a rock star. We couldn't move him through the crowd. He would be immediately surrounded by fans. Really weird. But he loved it. Loved the babies and their cherrios the most when he found out he could stretch his neck over his stall guard and eat off their strollers. :) So if anyone's going to be at the fair between the 28th and the 31st come see us. I'll be sitting in front of his stall with a laptop getting nothing done and warding off small children who want to keep their fingers.

You know, Helen, our fair's so popular that one of my editors came all the way from NY to go to it with me. Fun.

Helen Brenna said...

Marshmallow moon pies! I've heard of those.

Keri, not sure banana flavored marshmallows would do it for me. In fact, I'm sure it wouldn't!!

Fiona, I take it that means your now BUYING a house?

PJ, I'm not sure how to describe cheese curds. They're clumps of cheese that somehow must separate themselves from the whey before it gets pressed into forms. You absolutely can not eat the deep fried version without an ice cold beer in one hand!

Pronto pups are a lot like corn dogs, only I think it's a flour based batter. I prefer corn dogs, but dh like the pups.

Christie, what I like about the county or city fairs that we don't have at the big state fair is BINGO! Yes! Love it.

Deb, maybe you'll have to make a trip up thisaway to get your fair fix!

Lois, I'm going to look you up! And I totally get what you must feel like with a horse there. I'm one of those who goes goo-goo over the pretty ponies!

Sean and Anna said...

No amount of cajoling from the family can get me to attend a big state fair. I kinda view them as a little piece of hell on earth. I grew up in Phoenix and the fair was always this crowded, smelly, hot place. Now, I love the little county type fairs- full of arts and crafts and small town flair. My gramma was one of the original organizers of the Gila County Fair (up in Northern AZ) so we always went to that one. We'd have a pancake breakfast with the local firemen and then tour all the booths- plus we had yummy pies. So I guess that makes me of a mixed opinion... big fairs are a no and small town fairs are a yes.

Jane said...

I've never been to a county or state fair, but I have been to the San Gennaro Festival in NYC. I love the zeppolis, calamari and cannolis.

Helen Brenna said...

Sean and Anna, I like the little county fairs too. Arts and crafts and bingo!!

Jane, that festival sounds fun!

Kylie said...

The Iowa State Fair is on a list of ten things to do before you die. Which brings up the obvious joke of *wanting* to die after a day at the fair in 90 degree heat ;)

My friend's daughter attended last week with a scavenger list of things to take pictures of. Like...someone eating a corndog; a mullet.... Interestingly, mullets abounded, obviously more popular than corndogs these days!

I'll go again...someday. But I'm not one of those who needs to go every year. Or even every decade...!

Estella said...

The wordsFair(of any kind) makes me shudder.
Too many people, too hot, and too much money.

Helen Brenna said...

Okay, I'm going to sound like an idiot, but ... what's a mullet, Kylie? Do mean like the hair style (or lack thereof) or is it some kind of food? LOL

Estella, you and a whole lotta other folks!

Sean and Anna said...

What's a mullet? Just look at Billy Ray Cyrus back in the Achy Breaky days.

Dina said...

Hi Helen,

I'm in Wisconsin. There seems to be alot of them throughout our state, but ours West Allis is the main one. :)

I once saw Billy Ray at my State Fair, front row with the mullet. :)

Helen Brenna said...

Okay, I'm an idiot!

Mullet on a stick, anyone?

Karen Foley said...

Hi Helen! Where I live, on the Massachusetts coast, we have the Topsfield Fair in early October. As fairs go, I think it's probably on the smaller side, but we love to go and see the biggest pumpkin, check out the 4-H projects, visit the livestock barns, watch the tractor and horse pulls, and eat the food! Our favorite fair fare includes German Fries with lots of vinegar, and candied or caramel apples, and (my husband's favorite) warm apple pie served with a big hunk of cheddar cheese and a cup of cider. Yum!!

Kylie said...

Helen, obviously my referencing the mullet and corn dog in the same sentence confused you :) Still waaaay more of them to be seen than one would expect!

Fiona said...

Helen, we bought the house in '93 and have never regretted it. I never thought I would LOVE Minnesota as much as I do. The State fair is one of the many wonderful things about living here.

My youngest child loves the butterfly house the best, the oldest wants to personally visit every animal at the fair. LOL DH says the roasted corn is the best thing to eat there.

Helen Brenna said...

Hey, Karen! An October fair in Massachusetts sounds marvelous.

Kylie, I'm easily confused.

The butterfly house! Love it, too, Fiona.