Well, we did it again. We were not going to go this year. Time and money were both a factor in this decision, but in the end, the draw of the crowds, deep fried foods, and people watching won out. We fulfilled our (traditional) bi-annual trip to the Minnesota State Fair. Here’s how it went down.
As it turned out despite my, my wife, and #2 of 5’s work schedule, #3 of 5’s volunteer schedule, and the various other items that tend to pull us in umpteen different directions all at the same time – we managed to somehow end up with a Sunday that we were ALL home. Not only were we all home, we were all free from other obligations. This may have (and I stress “may have”) happened one other time this entire summer.
Weeks prior (when we noticed the empty day on the calendar) the Mother of Five and I decided we wanted to have a family day. Not just a family day, but an “outside family day”. We were going to load up the new (to us) canoe (which she has yet to enjoy), my GPS (forGeoCaching), fishing poles, balls, Frisbees, a cooler with a picnic lunch in it, and make a day at one of the regional parks around us…
After getting home from church and sitting the family down to decide which park, and what “amenities” we wanted to bring, the boys started grumbling about being bored with the ideas we presented them.
Normally, that would just send me the other direction and make me want to take them on the “boring” trip all that much more – but since it was going to be a “family day” and both boys have had very busy summers, I changed my approach.
Well (I said), if you don’t like that idea, what alternatives can you come up with? They threw out the obligatory “Xbox”, “Rent a movie”, “go see a movie” – but when reminded that these were not “outside” activities, #2 of 5 threw out the idea of the Minnesota State Fair.
The Mother of Five and I looked at each other and shrugged our shoulders.
We sent the kids downstairs so we could discuss it. Besides being more of an expense than we were planning, we could not find a reason not to go. So, at the last minute, we loaded up the kids and headed out!
For me, the draw of the fair is the food, and the
freak show people watching.
I have a list of standard food that I get while at the fair. Pronto pup, foot long hot dog, deep fried cheese curds, alligator, and a milkshake have been regular staples for me in the past. I had plans to gorge on all my fair favorites, but something got in the way.
Over the past couple of years, my tastes for food have been changing (and probably for the better). Fast foods, and fried foods are becoming less appealing to me, and I find my taste for better eating (like veggies) have increased. I have also intentionally cut back on my portions. These (along with my almost daily walks) have resulted in a loss of almost forty pounds in the past year!
I’m not fanatical about it – I still planned on enjoying myself at the fair, but in the back of my mind I was thinking it was time to try something different. This became the “theme” for attending the fair this year. To try some of the other offerings that we would not normally eat (and maybe find something “a little more healthy”).
Here is this year’s “food journal”…
Our first stop on the culinary delicacy express was the Deep Fried Cheese Curd stand. Normally, I would have had a photo for you, but I was in such a hurry to start popping those warm little morsels of melty batter fried cheesy goodness that I completely forgot to take a photo. These are not “new” items, but are such a staple of the State Fair – that it would not be a trip to the Fair without a taste. We bought two containers for the six of us.
Feeling a little let down about that? Check out the cheese curd photo from the last time we visited the fair.
Since our attending the Fair was unplanned and a last minute “whirlwind” endeavor - #3 of 5 neglected to eat anything in the chaos that came between our agreeing to go to the Fair, and actually leaving.
As such, he was the first to break down and ask for some food of his own.
His choice? Pronto pup with ketchup.
As we continued meandering our way through the Fair, something caught #2 of 5’s eye. He was quick to point it out.
Normally, I would have said NO WAY to something like this, but since it was “try new food at the fair year” – I said what the heck. Technically, it was his selection, but it came with the caveat that anyone who wanted to, would be allowed a bite. He agreed.
Five minutes and $3.00 later – he was holding a hot, fresh, batter dipped Deep Fried Twinkie…
They batter dip and deep fry a frozen Twinkie. The frosting in the middle melts and permeates the Twinkie cake. It’s a hot, sweet, and greasy monstrosity that #2 of 5 said was “totally amazing”. (That was until 20 minutes later. He was holding his gut, and said it was not quite as amazing as he originally thought.)
Next stop… Spamville! Being the fan of Spam that I am (and never having stopped into Spamville before), I felt it was time. One thing stood out. The Spam Throne. I could not leave without having my “fifteen minutes of fame” as the Throne Holder of Spamville!
#4 of 5 felt my reign was too “jovial” – so she took a seat on the throne with much more seriousness.
As we exited Spamville, I was so tempted to buy an order of batter dipped, deep fried Spam bites (never had them before) – but alas my system was still trying to work over the Cheese Curds, and the Deep Fried Twinkie… I’ll add it to the menu for our 2013 visit to the fair.
After leaving Spamville, we walked around the Grandstand vendors hawking their wares (mostly “snake oil”). Kitchen gadgets, utensils, ring cleaner, various political organizations, retail outlets, vacation giveaways… You name it and someone’s selling it at the fair!
Once we had visited the main Grandstand vendors, the “Merchandise Mart”, “Home Improvement” and “Creative Arts” buildings - when people were starting to get hungry for lunch.
The girls opted for the usual – Pronto Pup. After feeding the girls, the Mother of Five and I decided on Gyros (actually, we decided on that after seeing the Dino’s Gyro stand earlier, but had trouble finding it – so we stopped at the Falafal King stand instead.) We both enjoyed regular Gyros. They were very good, but we both agreed they could have used a little more veggies in the mix.
By this time of day - #3 of 5 who had his Pronto Pup earlier in the day was starting to get a little hungry again. He asked if he could get a order of french fries.
Throughout all the years I have attended the State Fair, I have never bought an order of fries. So we wandered around until we came across “The World’s Best Fries” stand.
Ya know? They were unusually good!! (I suspect it’s from the dirty fry oil)
All the animal barns were “closed for cleaning” – so we made our way to (and through) the “International Bazaar”. It was getting late, and one thing a couple of us still wanted (even though it’s not “new”) milkshakes. They tend to “settle” the tummy just a bit.
But, others wanted to keep the “new and different” theme going…
Another both that I have never stopped at in all my years at the fair is Sweet Martha’s Cookie Jar.
It is quite the iconic food stand at the Minnesota State Fair. Everyone rants and raves about how good Sweet Martha’s cookies are. We waited and waited in line…
…and was finally rewarded with our BUCKET of Sweet Martha’s.
I’m not a big “warm, ooey-gooey” cookie fan. I like mine hard and crunchy – even a little bit burned…
I ate two of these “silver dollar sized” cookies – and almost tossed MY cookies. Two was enough for me to say I’ve had ‘em – and do not need to ever go back down that road again.
Been there, done that.
I noticed that this year was to be Epiphany Diner’s final year after a 46 year run being part of the Minnesota State Fair.
I have only eaten there once.
I thought I’d snap a quick photo in this, Epiphany’s final year.
Much like his father, #3 of 5’s taste for Sweet Martha’s was… well… Less than sweet. Even before we bought the bucket-o-cookies, he asked if he could still get a milkshake instead.
Since we were now working our way out of the Fairgrounds and we were going to pass the Dairy Barn on the way out – we said yes.
And finally – on the bus back to our park-n-ride lot – I spotted something out of the corner of my eye.
Something I had to get a picture of for my sister.
Sister – this one is for you! The Gedney Pickle Team Cruiser!!