I have exciting news! I have discovered the only thing Minnesotans are actually, full on aggressive about: The State Fair. When people found out I had never been I was met with a barrage of beliefs that are apparently not up for discussion and are commonly held by every person who lives in this fine state. Basically, everyone believes The Minnesota State Fair is the best state fair in this grand ol’ country. I foolishly asked, “Doesn’t everyone think their state’s fair is the best?” This was met with a pitying laugh, “They just haven’t been to our yet.”
I may be new in town, but having been around last summer I had no excuse as to why I hadn’t already gone other than I just wasn’t interested in what seemed to me would be an outdoor Mall of America. This year, however, I was hit with so much Minnesotan aggression demanding I experience this cultural phenomenon that I decided to give in to the peer pressure and go.
Fun fact about the fair: it is a place where plans go to die. Within a matter of seconds upon entering the fairgrounds I realized my plan had not taken into consideration the sheer magnitude of this event. The overstimulation was exhausting and while I’d love to walk you through each and every event that happened as I fell from grace, most of it is a blur. It was like being in another world except instead of a vortex you travel on impeccably organized public transportation.
Having worked on farms in the past I was very into the agriculture section of the fair. In particular, I was amazed by the seed art. Considering I’ve struggled simply putting seeds into the ground, I was very impressed. I also loved the huge vegetables. It’s always fun seeing food that Giants would consider normal sized. While I got serious Animal Farm vibes from the segregated animal buildings, it seemed like out of every living creature at the Fair, the animals were having the best time. The Fair is basically Fashion Week for farm animals. They get to be groomed, schmooze with their buddies from other farms, and walk in shows. All in all, they have it made, and it was the first time I’ve ever been jealous of a sheep.
The food. Where do I begin. I don’t eat super healthy on a regular basis. Just yesterday I had two bags of popcorn for dinner, but when I saw the sheer number of things that people decided could and should be deep fried my stomach churned. This is going to be an unpopular opinion, but just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Of course, I went in with knowing I was about to be disgusting and decided not to judge myself. I had the Duck Wontons from Giggles Campfire Grill which was definitely not kosher but definitely creamy and delicious. I had the Pizzarito from Green Mill which is a glorified Hot Pocket and I loved every second of it. I watched my boyfriend eat a Pronto Pup while I lectured him on how it was just an illegitimate corn dog. I ate a meat concoction at Mancini’s called the Italian Bomba Sandwich, we had Martha’s Cookies which I had no criticism for except that they should also serve a bucket full of milk to go with it.
My boyfriend and I decided to forgo the rides on account of him having this adorable fear of transportable carnival rides. We instead spent what seemed to be our life savings on tickets to play games. I loved the games, and not just because I rock at them, but because there are prizes. There is nothing more satisfying than being a 23-year-old woman winning herself giant stuffed animals and having children look on and know that you are a goddess among carnival games. And just as a carnival goddess would do, I handed out the stuffed animals to the small fair goers because honestly, my apartment is way too small for a giant stuffed bear. I did keep a heart that I didn’t actually win but was given by a Carnie who said he liked my butt. Romance isn’t dead.
I’ve never been to any state fair before, probably because no one talks about them with the gusto that Minnesotans do, but after my first experience, I will gladly drink the Minnesotan Fair Kool-Aid. I get why the fair is so popular. It’s the definition of going out with a bang. One last Summer hurrah before we all go back to school and winter begins and we all bundle up on our couches eating comfort food. It’s just an end of the summer little get-together with just around 2 million of our neighbors and friends and I’m very honored to have been invited.