Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Great Minnesota Get-Together...TWICE

I have a love/hate relationship with the Minnesota State Fair. If I don't go, I feel sad and like I've missed out on something. If I do go, I am almost immediately overheated and overwhelmed by the crowds. My attendance at the fair has been hit and miss recently.

But this year, I've gone twice and the fair isn't even over yet!

My first excursion was on Saturday. We had family in town and everyone decided that Saturday was fair day. My brother, Gunflint, and I were partners in crime on Saturday. We both traveled abroad in college and pride ourselves on our ability to slip speedily through a crowd, allowing us to be first in line at the food stands and up close to the animal pens. Our speed and sneakiness is not really Minnesota nice, but was necessary on our travel abroad program and helps us make the most of the Minnesota State Fair.

Of course there are vintage tractors at the fair

Another thing about traveling around the fair with a good buddy is that you can share food. It is totally unnecessary to eat any item at the state fair on your own. Having a buddy at the fair means that you can sample foods and not get too full or down too many calories - although when you're eating cheese curds I'm not sure if there's any way to avoid calorie consumption.

On Saturday I ate:

            1 pronto pub (a "banquet on a stick")
            1 tub of french fries (shared between five people)
            2 servings of cheese curds (shared between five people, purchased for purposes of taste comparison)
            2 beers - all me

My family likes the fair for food and shopping. When Gunflint and I hooked up with everyone we hit the food stands, the shopping and some of the animal barns.

A goat and her kid in the CHS Miracle of Birth Center

We also saw the rabbits, which I've never seen at the fair before! I still have no idea what kind of bunny Turtle is, but it was fun to guess based on how the breeds looked at the fair. I also marveled at how calm the bunnies were because I know Turtle would be freaking out if hundreds of people were walking by her cage and trying to pet her floppy ears!

Gunflint and I finally called it quits after about six hours of the fair, and that was plenty!

...Then Calhoun and I went back on Monday! Gunflint had procured some free tickets and Monday morning was the stock dog trials at the fair so we got up early, brought coffee and settled in to the Warner Coliseum and watched some amazing dogs herd sheep around a series of obstacles. I did not grow up around working dogs, but Calhoun's family had a working border collie when he was a kid and I am fascinated and amazed by what herding dogs can do. It was very cool to watch the dogs and trainers work together!

After the stock dog trials we went on a quest for breakfast. I had a pita and Calhoun had a turkey leg. After grabbing a large lemonade we headed back to the animal barns and saw the draft horses, cows and sheep.

A display from the 4H Building about honey bees 

One of the things about the Minnesota State Fair is that there are so many different events and activities going on! It has all the aspects of a smaller county fair, with animal judging and canning contests, along with some big city features - Grandstand concerts with major headliners and all the shopping a heart could want. In the past, I've always just gone to the fair and not paid very much attention to the timing of attendance or planning ahead to decide what I wanted to see. But, as I started looking at the schedule of the fair I realized that the big animals are only at the fair for the first four or five days, during the fifth through tenth days they bring in some of the more mid-sized animals and during the last few days of the fair, all the shopping and food is still there but most of the animals are gone along with a lot of the competition entries for canning and all that other great fair stuff. This was the first time I've ever planned ahead to see an animal exhibition and I was happy to see so many animals and enthusiasm at the beginning of the fair and I think the next time I go to the fair I will be planning ahead to be there when the animals are there also!

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