Minnesota State Fair 2013
The Minnesota State Fair
Once again another State Fair has come and gone which indicates the end of summer to most people in Minnesota. I went twice, once with my wife and once with my wife and kids, and both days were hotter than hades but that did not dampen our enthusiasm for the State Fair.
I have been going to the fair almost my entire life. I went there as a young lad when my friends and I took the bus to get there. I went as a horny teenager looking at all the pretty girls that were there. I have been going there as a middle-aged man and I went there this past year old enough to join the AARP, if I would ever join that communist organization (that was a joke son!). The great thing about the fair is that it changes yet it remains the same. If you read the short story, “A Night at the Fair” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, you will see that things are even the same if you go back to the 1920′s.
My kids had a lot of fun and when we were done they were tired. We rode all the rides we wanted to ride, which this year was zero, and we all got to eat the food that makes us the happiest. We watched the salesmen with their patter and we bought a couple of things to take home with us that will absolutely change our lives. That is the beautiful thing about the State Fair, it gives and gives and gives.
My History with the Minnesota State Fair.
Like I said earlier I have been going to the State Fair forever. I remember going to get Danielson and Daughter’s onion rings when I was but a teenager. I remember that his one daughter was so damn cute and I wanted to ask her out. She is older now, as am I, but going back to the booth brings back fantastic memories.
The night before my wife and I went to the state fair I was thinking of my grandpa. He only took me to the fair once, and that was with my brother. I think he was given orders to go because he had surgery earlier in the year and he was told to walk and get exercise by his doctor. He was also told to give up cigarettes and booze and basically take all the fun out of his life.
Well, he wanted to smoke. I remember he bribed my brother and I with a Space Needle ride if we would not tell grandma that he was smoking a cigarette. It was a great deal. My brother and I got to go on a ride that took us to the top of the world and he got to stay on the ground and smoke. I also remember he bought us each a couple of Pronto Pups (which are made with a flour coating as compared to a Corn Dog which is coated with a corn-flour coating). On the sticks, in the part that was covered by the hot dog, there were coupons good for free Skyrides and free rides on the Space Needle. I remember walking around Machinery Hill with him because he loved the machines and was a gardener. I would give everything I have to see him again and talk to him; I miss him so much.
Other years I went with friends, but never my mother or father. We would ride the bus to the fair until one of us got a license. We would take all of our saved money from mowing lawns and shoveling walks, and we would blow it on seemingly unlimited food and rides at the State Fair. It was such a fun time. We ate until we were bloated and in pain. We would go on rides and I would get dizzy and sick. Three of us watched, having escaped the House of Mirrors, as my brother thought he had found the exit. A pleasant look went across his face and he strode confidently right into a clear pane of glass, thus giving himself a welt on his head.
We knew where the cheapest pop was located. We knew you could drink as much milk as you want at the unlimited milk stand, all for $.25. We loved to see the animals because we were city kids. Most of all we loved the girls. It was so much fun watching and talking to the girls. My favorite then and my favorite now is the About a Foot Long Hot Dog. It is a perfectly boiled all beef wiener that comes on a fresh bun and is smothered in fried onions. It is perfection. It has remained unchanged, like the Pronto Pups and Corn Dogs, since my entire existence at the State Fair. It is what makes me come back, it is what fills my kid’s hearts with joy. To find something unchanged in this world is one of the greatest feelings man can have.
Today at the State Fair.
So what is new at the Minnesota State Fair this year? Every year new foods get introduced and most of them seem to go by the wayside in a year or two. There were about ten different food items (like bacon wrapped and bacon in the batter corn dogs), but I did not try one of them. I tried Australian Battered Potatoes, which is not new, and I was not impressed. I had a Scotch Egg and I was not impressed and this item used to be my favorite at the State Fair. I had my About a Foot Long Hot Dog and a couple of Corn Dogs. I had my onion rings and cheese curds. I had a Gizmo which everyone raved about at the fair, it has been around forever, and it was OK, but not great. The one brand new item I did try was Mini Donut Beer. They had one keg available per day and they tapped it at noon. We got there about 12:30, got in a short line, and had our small beer (no large beers for this specialty beer). It was fantastic. They put a little sugar and brown sugar around the rim and damn if it did not taste like Mini Donuts.
The new item we bought were silicone lids. These are made to go over most any size container and they do not inherit smells. They stop leaks if something tips in your fridge, and they apparently can keep odors in if you cover half an onion. They come six to a pack and they cost $25, or two packs for $40. We teamed up with another couple and got the discounted price. We also bought more seal strips, which I reviewed last year, and we bought another chopper/processor. There is a great article on this particular pitchman and his company in the Minneapolis StarTribune, here. My favorite pitchman of all is an older gentleman named Larry Scheidt that sells Swiss Peelers. There is an article on him in a California Newspaper here.
Finally, when we were sweaty and tired, we decided that we had our fill of the Minnesota State Fair. By the end of the day your body is tired, your legs are tired, and you are sad because you are not going to see the State Fair for another year. It means it is the end of summer and the start of school for my kids. It also means a long walk back to the car. When you are drained from a day at the fair the walk to the car can seem a bit burdensome. But I would go again tomorrow in a heartbeat, if it were open. The Great Minnesota Get Together.