As of two weeks ago I had never been to the Minnesota state fair, even though I've lived here for almost six years now. In my own defense, it was only last year that I learned it was the "quintessential Minnesota experience." So, this year we went. And wow - it definitely is an experience. California friends, this post is also for you. None of the California county fairs come close in size or quality. If you ever visit me, come just before Labor day and I'll happily take you to experience the craziness that is the Minnesota State Fair.
I'm not going to talk about everything we did, just about a few things that stood out to me specifically.
It seems for a lot of people one of the biggest reasons to go to the State Fair is all the indulgent food. So, first and foremost, here's a list of what we tried:
CHOCOLATE COVERED BACON!
Though apparently there are 67 things available on a stick, not EVERYTHING comes on a stick. We spent a portion of our day looking for the above, which we found at Famous Dave's. Actually pretty good! Nick said he would have had like 5 of these... but we settled for one batch. Oh, and they call these Pig Lickers. No joke.
The. Best. Corndog. Ever. We got a footlong corndog from the stand attached to the horse barn, and it was awesome.
The cheese curds really are the best. Over the course of the day, we had two helpings.
I tried the "Hotdish on a stick." It was... not as fantastic as I hoped it would be, but I'm glad I tried it. It was a tater tot, a Swedish meatball, a tater tot and another Swedish meatball on a stick and breaded with the same batter they use for corn dogs. They serve it to you with some mushroom-soupy business on the side, and there you go. I definitely prefer regular hotdish - and the Bulldog's is the best, hands-down.
We also ate some awesome roasted corn, beef jerky, and root beer. We also both paid $1 for an all-you-can-drink cup of milk. The gentleman next to us had 9 cups of milk. NINE CUPS, and I know some people can drink way more than that. Where is it going? That's so much freakin' milk.
This may have been the highlight for me. We saw alpacas and so many llamas.
This guy was my fave, and he was a totally camera whore.
Can you believe there was a llama costume contest that just HAPPENED to be the day we were there? I think Nick secretly planned that. Way to go, Nick! I normally don't like dressing animals up in clothing but something about how absolutely off the top ridiculous this contest was made it a must-see. There were about 10 contestants with some rather elaborate get-ups.
This girl-and-llama set was one of my faves. I love clowns AND llamas. WIN!
I think the following photo might come back to haunt this boy facebook-style in a few years. Boy groom and llama bride? His first girlfriend has a pretty high bar to rise to, eh?
This last pair won the contest. That wee beast is wearing GLOVES AND SHOES! It was also the most well behaved, chill animal of the group. Gotta love alpacas!
I'll end my llama section with this absolutely adorable baby llama. So cute you almost forget he's sleeping on a blanket of dirt and poo.
There are a TON of rides at the fair, but we only went on a few.
We of course went on Ye Old Mill, a 96 year-old water ride. It as kind of what you'd expect in a old tunnel of love or something like that - mostly dark with occasional really awful displays and bright blue water. 100% awesome.
We also went on the Sky Ride from one end of the fairgrounds to the other, which gives one a really cool bird's eye picture of the event. In other words, you can really see just how many gobs of people there really are swarming around. 110,931 on the Wednesday we were there, to be precise.
The exhibitions may have been my favorite. Wait, weren't the llamas my favorite? No, the corn dog was. Ohhhh, I can't decide.
The exhibitions were absolutely fantastic, even for non artsy-folk. I will return each year if and only if to see the Art exhibit. Quite a few Ae artists had work on display and I was tickled to even see a few works we've shown at the gallery before. Minnesota in no way lacks for talent, creativity or expression. Lots of amazing artwork in the Fine Arts building and there was also some also amazing craftsmanship in the Creative Activities exhibit.
The Eco-experience was also pretty awesome, even if you're not a pinko commie liberal. We also got a free reusable grocery bag by posing for the following picture. You were supposed to write a little reason on the card. I wanted to write "I love bag" but Nick said I should add "& the earth." So I did.
The Great Minnesota Get Together
They call the State Fair "The Great Minnesota Get Together" and they are right when they say you cant go to the fair without running into at least a few folks you know. Even though there was over 100,000 people there we still saw quite a few friends out and about, also enjoying the craziness.
So... that about sums up my first State Fair experience. I had an awesome time and will probably go again.
You should come with me. We can share cheese curds.