The Great Minnesota Get-Together

Each August, nearly two million Minnesotans and people-who-wish-they-were-Minnesotans flock to a twelve day celebration of fried food the Minnesota State Fair. The average daily attendance exceeds that of any other state fair in the country (um, because we’re the best), and the total attendance is bested only by Texas (um, their fair runs twice as long as ours. and everything’s bigger there. so basically that statistic should be discounted). When I moved to the Twin Cities a few years ago, I quickly learned that people live for the fair. Even if you don’t think you do, as soon as fair season rolls around, YOU DO

Every radio station, local celeb, and politician sets up there. Newspapers run reviews about all the new food items (and the old favorites), and the fodder of conversation for two weeks becomes what fair food items to get, what to try new this year, and where to find the hidden gems.

As someone unfamiliar with the fair culture, I didn’t understand what all the hullabaloo was about initially. Then, one fateful day in 2011, I went to the fair. And now I know. So, when summer hits, I – like every other Minnesotan and Minnesotan-wannabe – start thinking about the fair.

When August 22nd finally rolled around this year, we.were.there. Parking is a nightmare, so we rode our bikes to the party:

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As to be expected, the fairgrounds were packed:

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After admiring some food we were not going to eat:

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It was time to get serious. First stop: The Minneapple.

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The Minneapple is basically a fried apple pie. Noah got one last year and loved it, so he was excited to try this year’s menu addition – minnepumpkin pie:

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My first purchase was a state fair classic. Cheese curds:

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I will admit this was actually my first encounter with cheese curds. They never particularly appealed to me before, but for some reason, this year the thought of fried cheesy goodness hit the spot. They did not disappoint.

Moving on, inside the agriculture building was a wide selection of craft beers. We ordered a flight of four.

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As I alluded to before, each year the state fair releases a list of all the new foods that will be sold. This list is awaited with great anticipation, and the moment it debuts people begin to predict what will be earth-shattering, what will fall short, and what will become a new classic. This year, the item that caught my eye was a peanut butter and jelly shake. I am a total sucker for milkshakes (definitely in my top favorite foods), and I also love peanut butter and jelly. Win – win, right?

The vendor selling the pb&j shakes was Goertze’s Dairy Kone.

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Unfortunately, I was a little disappointed with the final product. I couldn’t taste any jelly to speak of – it really just seemed like a peanut butter shake. Of course, pb shakes are delicious, but it wasn’t what I was hoping for.

The final food purchase of the evening (and a mistake, in hindsight) were buffalo flavored potato ‘chips.’ Basically, medium-sliced potatoes fried and flavored with buffalo seasoning. Nothing special – a real shame since they came at such a high opportunity cost!

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Once eating anything else became a true impossibility, it was time to move on to some of the fair’s other entertainment. Namely, the Miracle of Life Barn. This aptly named barn is where they keep all of the pregnant animals, hatching eggs, and baby sheep/cows/chickens/bunnies. It’s fun to check out all the animals, but seriously watch out, because if you find yourself watching a sheep giving birth it can get prettttty gross. Real fast.

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Our last stop before leaving was the Sheep barn. We determined sheep are the cutest farm animal. Which should give you an idea about how cute the competition is (read: not cute at all).

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Don’t worry, the above sheep are not – as I feared – members of a violent extremist group whose chosen attire is white hoods. Rather, they wear those things to keep from getting dirty. Who knew?

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