First off, my apologies for my recent absence from the internets. These past two Fridays I have been bogged down with work and before I knew it, the work day was done and I hadn't gotten the chance to blog. I am rectifying my mistakes by blogging today, about the awesome Saturday I had at the great Minnesota State Fair. The state fair here in Minnesota is a pretty big deal, and while I cannot speak for many other state fairs out there, this one seems to be the one to beat. I read somewhere that the opening day of the fair on Thursday set the state record for biggest attendence, with 119,000 people setting foot into the fairground. There is no shortage of great things to do at the state fair, from the wide variety of great eats, to adorable animals, to just some down right fantastic people watching. Although by no means a fair veteran at this point (you need years in the heartland to gain vet status at the fair), I do have some general words of wisdom from my one day at the great Minnesota get-together:
Find Free Parking: The Fair is held in St. Paul, near Hamline University. The surrounding neighborhood apparently creates a thriving micro-economy during the fair days, and that includes renting out every square inch of their yards and driveways for fair parking. For those whose houses are next to the fair grounds, they charge(and quickly fill up their yards) up to 30 bucks a car, which for us college students isn't going to fly. If you go about a half-mile away or so, you can parralel park on the streets for free, and then walk over. And believe me, once you leave the fair, the half mile walk back is just what you'll need to start burning off the deep fried twinkie or foot-long hot dog that you just polished off on the way out.
Get at least one item of food that is on a stick (and make it deep fried while you're at it): This is a big one. Minnesotans, for some awesome reason, sure love their food to be found on a stick, at least when they're at the fair. This allows for some truly awesome creations to be unleashed upon your digestive system when you hit the fair. As mentioned above, you can find yourself a deep fried twinkie on a stick, frozen custard on a stick, deep fried bacon on a stick, belgian waffle on a stick, and so on and so forth. The food on a stick phenomenon is so widespread that we passed one food stand that proudly advertised "DEFINITELY NO FOOD ON A STICK!".
Check out the animal barns: A big part of the fair is the chance for farmers from throughout Minnesota (and potentially other states in the Midwest) to bring down their different animals for different contests. They have livestock, rabbits, ducks, chickens, horses, pigs etc. You name the animal, and there is probably some sort of barn that is housing it at the farm. We saw the biggest boar in the state of Minnesota, a handsome devil by the name of Reggie who tips the scales at a regal 1450 lbs. When I met Reggie he was snoozing in a giant pile of hay, which is what I imagine Reggie does for the majority of his existence. One barn that I did not find (and that I did not know existed while I was there) was the birthing barn. It is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It's the barn where you can watch animals give birth. Weird? Certainly. Minnesotan? You betcha.
All in all, I had a pretty fantastic day at the fair. If you get the chance in the next week or so (the last day is Labor Day Monday), I'd highly recommend you check it out.