A Day At The Minnesota State Fair

Labor Day marks the beginning of my favorite time of year for many different reasons. First of all, it signifies that autumn is on the way! Say goodbye to 100 degree plus humid days trudging through the grimy and crowded streets of New York City and say hello to the great “F’s”. Flannels, Football, Foliage, and Fall brews. I live for the beautiful weather of fall and all that it brings with it. Comfortable clothing, festive holidays, delicious comforting food and a whole host of themed beverages to go along with it. Bring it on.  As I was saying, Labor Day is a good day. However, while it is great because it hints at the glories to come, Labor Day Weekend is also wonderful in its own right because it happens to fall during one of the single most important events of the year- The Minnesota State Fair.

Labor Day marks the beginning of my favorite time of year for many different reasons. First of all, it signifies that autumn is on the way! Say goodbye to 100 degree plus humid days trudging through the grimy and crowded streets of New York City and say hello to the great “F’s”. Flannels, Football, Foliage, and Fall brews. I live for the beautiful weather of fall and all that it brings with it. Comfortable clothing, festive holidays, delicious comforting food and a whole host of themed beverages to go along with it. Bring it on.

As I was saying, Labor Day is a good day. However, while it is great because it hints at the glories to come, Labor Day Weekend is also wonderful in its own right because it happens to fall during one of the single most important events of the year- The Minnesota State Fair.

Those who were not raised in areas that host a state fair cannot possibly fathom the excellence of such an event, and to be honest anyone who is not from Minnesota probably cannot understand how amazing this particular fair actually is. Most assume that a fair is a small and pathetic jumble of farm animals and hay bales with a few fried foods and some pie eating contests. This is grossly inaccurate. Let me take a moment to paint a picture of how we do it in the Twin Cities.  First of all, the Minnesota State Fair is the single largest and most attended in the entire country. This year attendance almost reached two million people. The fair runs approximately one week long and ends on Labor Day. To correctly envision all that this majestic event entails, combine the following in your mind. 

Those who were not raised in areas that host a state fair cannot possibly fathom the excellence of such an event, and to be honest anyone who is not from Minnesota probably cannot understand how amazing this particular fair actually is. Most assume that a fair is a small and pathetic jumble of farm animals and hay bales with a few fried foods and some pie eating contests. This is grossly inaccurate. Let me take a moment to paint a picture of how we do it in the Twin Cities.

First of all, the Minnesota State Fair is the single largest and most attended in the entire country. This year attendance almost reached two million people. The fair runs approximately one week long and ends on Labor Day. To correctly envision all that this majestic event entails, combine the following in your mind. 

Imagine a day at the horse races, a tour of an art gallery, an invitation to an environmental and agriculture conference hosted in Las Vegas, every farm animal known to man, a Six Flags theme park, a trip down Bourbon Street in New Orleans for the bars, an outdoor concert venue, and literally every single food known to man, either fried or on a stick. Am I missing anything? 

Imagine a day at the horse races, a tour of an art gallery, an invitation to an environmental and agriculture conference hosted in Las Vegas, every farm animal known to man, a Six Flags theme park, a trip down Bourbon Street in New Orleans for the bars, an outdoor concert venue, and literally every single food known to man, either fried or on a stick. Am I missing anything? 

I grew up attending these events and never missed a year as a child. When my siblings and I were very young, our parents got really into it and created matching, neon colored, puff-paint covered shirts for the family to keep track of everyone. The lettering read “Camp M and M”. I have no idea why my Mom did that, everyone always came up to us asking details about our summer camp experiences…however, these shirts were an on-point substitution for putting your child on a leash so I applaud my families choices. Unfortunately, now that I am grown and living on the East Coast, I have not gotten the chance to attend the fair in recent years. Heartbreaking. In fact, I hadn’t gotten the chance to go home to Minnesota at all in over a year. Until now.

I grew up attending these events and never missed a year as a child. When my siblings and I were very young, our parents got really into it and created matching, neon colored, puff-paint covered shirts for the family to keep track of everyone. The lettering read “Camp M and M”. I have no idea why my Mom did that, everyone always came up to us asking details about our summer camp experiences…however, these shirts were an on-point substitution for putting your child on a leash so I applaud my families choices. Unfortunately, now that I am grown and living on the East Coast, I have not gotten the chance to attend the fair in recent years. Heartbreaking. In fact, I hadn’t gotten the chance to go home to Minnesota at all in over a year. Until now.

I specifically planned my entire reunion tour around the arrival of the State Fair. There was no way I was going to miss this event! The day did not disappoint. I arrived bright and early at around ten AM with my mother and two of my best childhood friends. We came prepared with empty stomachs and a carefully planned allotment of cash money in the wallet. Other than that, the plan was to have a mad free for all. Everyone goes to the fair for a different reason- for my mother, it was the animals, for my friend Stefan, the midway amusement park, for my friend Hope, it was the karaoke sing along area. Need I say why I was in attendance?

I specifically planned my entire reunion tour around the arrival of the State Fair. There was no way I was going to miss this event! The day did not disappoint. I arrived bright and early at around ten AM with my mother and two of my best childhood friends. We came prepared with empty stomachs and a carefully planned allotment of cash money in the wallet. Other than that, the plan was to have a mad free for all. Everyone goes to the fair for a different reason- for my mother, it was the animals, for my friend Stefan, the midway amusement park, for my friend Hope, it was the karaoke sing along area. Need I say why I was in attendance?

What a day. Everyone has their go-to foods at the fair, it is a very personal matter. Literally, within five minutes we were able to knock the three most important items off our list. Obviously I am talking about the cheese curds, the fresh corn dunked in a vat of butter, and the famous Sweet Martha’s cookies- how lucky that each stand was within ten feet of one another. Moving on. My mother devoured a custard ice cream, which is an infinitely richer, creamier and thus more satisfying version of regular ice cream. Stefan obtained a foot long hot dog and Hope went for her usual of sausage with marinara and garlic bread.

What a day. Everyone has their go-to foods at the fair, it is a very personal matter. Literally, within five minutes we were able to knock the three most important items off our list. Obviously I am talking about the cheese curds, the fresh corn dunked in a vat of butter, and the famous Sweet Martha’s cookies- how lucky that each stand was within ten feet of one another. Moving on. My mother devoured a custard ice cream, which is an infinitely richer, creamier and thus more satisfying version of regular ice cream. Stefan obtained a foot long hot dog and Hope went for her usual of sausage with marinara and garlic bread.

 I, however, was on a new mission. For years, I had heard about the famed pork chop on a stick, but I had never gotten the chance to try it! The lines were usually quite long and I had already gorged myself on other delicacies so I would forgo the skewered meat. This year I was determined, and let me tell you, the anticipation paid off. I now have a new favorite fair food. The pork chop was almost perfect, if a little cooked through. The chop was covered in a spice rub, charred from the grill, and enveloped in a thin layer of hot, melt-in-your-mouth, flavorful fat. I slathered the whole thing with a squirt of barbeque sauce and entered a state of bliss. I chose this over the turkey leg because I planned to get my hands on one of those the following day at the renaissance festival, but that is a story for another time. 

 I, however, was on a new mission. For years, I had heard about the famed pork chop on a stick, but I had never gotten the chance to try it! The lines were usually quite long and I had already gorged myself on other delicacies so I would forgo the skewered meat. This year I was determined, and let me tell you, the anticipation paid off. I now have a new favorite fair food. The pork chop was almost perfect, if a little cooked through. The chop was covered in a spice rub, charred from the grill, and enveloped in a thin layer of hot, melt-in-your-mouth, flavorful fat. I slathered the whole thing with a squirt of barbeque sauce and entered a state of bliss. I chose this over the turkey leg because I planned to get my hands on one of those the following day at the renaissance festival, but that is a story for another time. 

 I finished off my day with carton of deep fried Oreos. For anyone who has not tried one, I recommend it, they aren’t what you think. Oreos are covered in pancake batter and lightly fried, then covered in powdered sugar for the result of a light airy cake with a melted chocolate and cream center.  Missed opportunities include the Tom Thumb donuts, funnel cakes with maple bacon and cinnamon bun cream, and the wine slushy. I suppose I need to give myself something to live for right? There is always next year.

 I finished off my day with carton of deep fried Oreos. For anyone who has not tried one, I recommend it, they aren’t what you think. Oreos are covered in pancake batter and lightly fried, then covered in powdered sugar for the result of a light airy cake with a melted chocolate and cream center.

Missed opportunities include the Tom Thumb donuts, funnel cakes with maple bacon and cinnamon bun cream, and the wine slushy. I suppose I need to give myself something to live for right? There is always next year.