St. Paul, MN: Minnesota State FairMinnesota State Fair had been one of the hottest fairs in recent history in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
"We're seeing a lot of heat strokes today." one female officer said to Sash as they waited to wash up in the restroom. "The ambulances are working around the clock."
Somehow the heat didn't bother us too bad. Having lived in the Inland Empire of Southern California for several years, where its 100+ degrees for 2-3 months straight, 96 degrees didn't seem too bad.
But as it was, the 12-day long celebration opened up to a swell of fair-goers, but dropped off considerably on the Sunday that Sash and I attended. No doubt, heat was a big factor.
This was actually our first state fair. Even though our home state of California has its own State Fair, it's located in Sacramento, a full day's ride up north from where we lived in SoCal. As a result, we attended the county fairs in our area. But being Minnesota's is the USA's second biggest state fair, second only to Texas, we couldn't pass it up.
We also heard that the butter sculptures were a really slick idea, and that the craft beer hall was really hopping, and that the displays of award-winning quilts had everyone in stitches.
As it turned out, the Minnesota State fair is much like all the other fairs, in that the hot dogs were hot, the corn on the cob was corny, and the bottled water was really watery. It's not really different than what we had already seen, with the same rides, the same vendors, and the same carnies.
But that's not to say we were disappointed. There's still much to the Minnesota State Fair that's unique.
You can't find another fair with the"Ye Old Mill", which turns out is an old school tunnel of love, with creaky wooden boats and pitch black tunnels, aside from a few cheesy dioramas of leprechauns. Since 1915, the Ye Old Mill has become a tradition at the State Fair, or perhaps, an institution, helping hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans break the ice towards their first kisses, and thereby catapulting the 32nd State into the 21st most populous. Without the Ye Old Mill, Minnesota could have ended up as empty as North Dakota.
And the Minnesota State Fair is where butter is king. Each year the fair crowns a "Princess Kay of the Milky Way", and then carves her likeness into a 90 pound of block of salted, churned milk fat. At the end of the fair, they drop her sculpture from a hovering helicopter while hundreds of kids armed with Saltines eagerly wait to scrape up her remains. (OK, I made up that last part.)
But where else can you get "All you can drink milk" for a Dollar, deep fried cheese curds, and sticks of deep fried butter, on a stick?
And everything at the Minnesota State Fair is on fried on a stick. Fried Gator on a Stick, Fried Olives on a Stick, Fried Pickles on a Stick, Fried Steak on a Stick, Fried Snickers on a Stick, Fried Shortcake on a Stick, Fried Stick on a Stick...
You can even get Beer on a Stick. No joke.
And with all the trees in Minnesota, it seems the stick industry will be sticking around.
Fury Motorcycles has also stuck around for several years. A perennial attraction at the fair, they set up a dozen of their custom motorcycles, drawing in guys who want to see how hot their wives would look straddling a 124 cubic inch V-twin. The South St. Paul-based custom motorcycle shop also has hundreds of biker chick tees, belts, and accessories to heighten the rebel-dominatrix look that guys fantasize about.
All said, the Minnesota State Fair is real blast. Sash and I walked through it for a good 10 hours. Heat, sore feet, and all.
|The best way to get to the fair is to take the Express Bus at any of the 19 pick up locations across the area, at $5.00 a head.|
|This guy won stuffed animals at the fair|
|We didn't bother seeing the two headed princess|
|People holding stuffed animals at the fair|
|Sash with a Merlin statue|
|And here's yet more people holding stuffed animals.|
|Carnival games at the Midway|
|Highway made a new friend at the Midway|
|More Midway madness|
|Deep fried pickles!|
|Highway about to eat a fried alligator penis on a stick.|
|This couple picking apart a smoked turkey leg|
|We bought some chocolate covered bacon from this gal|
|Pork chops on a stick|
|Fried fruit on a stick|
|No fair is complete without corn on a cob|
|You toss your used corn cobs into this receptacle, and they recycle them back into new corn cobs|
|Deep fried cheese curds|
|Everything is on a stick at the Minnesota State Fair|
|Sash sang, "Just a Gigolo" at the karaoke stage.|
|These Pronto Pups shacks are all over the fairgrounds|
|These guys were sampling craft beer at the beer hall|
|End of the "Ye Old Mill" boat ride|
|Ye Old Mill is a boat ride, pretty much like a Tunnel of Love|
|The Republican Party is going to put up these Repeal Obamacare kiosks in gas stations across the country|
|Sash posing with Dave Thompson, Republican candidate for Minnesota Governor|
|Paramedics were working non-stop carrying heat-stroke victims out of the fairgrounds|
|Sash about to eat a deep fried Snickers bar on a stick (dusted in powdered sugar).|
|Ron Paul was at the Libertarian Party booth, but he was only a shell of his old self.|
|These guys were confined to a corndog booth, slaving over a deep fryer, in 96 degree heat.|
|Sash was chatting with Chelsea (left) and Paige (right), a pair of fair-going gals|
|Sash perched on a custom bobber at Fury Motorcycles|
|Sash with the guys at Fury Motorcycles|
|These goths didn't appreciate having their photo taken|
|Sash getting some fried green tomatoes|
|Fried green tomatoes with ranch dressing|
|Sash doing her Sash thing...|
|The heads of fair queens carved into blocks of butter (This is what Minnesota girls wish for their entire youth)|
|Sometimes the best lighting display makes all the difference in food sales|
|Grilled chocolate sandwiches? No thanks.|
|All you can drink milk for $1.00|
|Riding the bus back home|