Monday, January 22, 2018 23:54

fabulous friday: on a stick

It’s time for the Great Minnesota Get-Together! If you are in the Twin Cities area, I highly recommend carving out some time to spend a day at the State Fair. If you’re not local, plan a vacation to the Twin Cities in the twelve days before Labor Day. Perhaps an impromptu road trip or puddle jump in the next few days, or mark your calendar for next year!

Lots of people hear the word “fair” and immediately think country folk in cowboy boots and overalls. Barns and tractors. Carnies and cotton candy. Those people have only a sliver of the picture! The Minnesota State Fair is the largest in the country, and even the hippest city folk can find plenty to keep themselves occupied. So, this fabulous Friday is dedicated to seeing to it that you add some fabulous to your life with a little fair time!

I have lived here for 15 years, and had a few fairs under my belt even before I arrived. While I’ve enjoyed every visit, it took me a while to truly appreciate the event. Let’s take a few moments to hit some highlights, many lesser known, and spare you the learning curve!

First off, food. Our fine fair is known for its expansive menu. If something can be deep fried, and put on a stick, you will find it here! One of the first things I recommend trying is a Pronto Pup. Some mistakenly think it’s a clever name for a corn dog, but don’t be fooled! Instead of corn meal batter, this is flour batter, like pancake batter. Sadly, I can no longer partake, but they are tasty! Next, some cheese curds. These are a Wisconsin/Minnesota specialty. Mozzarella or cheddar, battered, and deep fried. Delicious. Rich. I recommend sharing, to leave some room for all the other tastiness that abounds. The final must have? Sweet Martha’s Cookies. They have expanded, so there are multiple booths to move the clamoring hordes through. Pony up for the bucket. They are overflowing, so be prepared to eat a few to get the bucket closed. Totally worth it, as they will be piping hot! If dairy is your thing, skip the milk at the booth, and head to the all-you-can-drink milk stand if you must dunk those cookies. Once you can get the lid on the bucket, you are able to transport them about the fair for all day snackage. Other recommendations are a malt from Empire Commons, roasted corn near the grandstand, and sweet corn ice cream from the Blue Moon Diner.

Next up, music and performers! There are always free performances to be seen at the Leinenkugels stage and in the bazaar. There have been some pretty great bands that folks would gladly pay to see! However, there are even bigger bands that play the grandstand nearly every night. This year the performances will include Macklemore and Depeche Mode! The grandstand is lovely, and not too big so you are guaranteed a great seat. Also in the grandstand this year is The Internet Cat Video Film Festival. Last year’s free event at the Walker Art Center was crazy crowded, and I am looking forward to the event at the grandstand! Comedians and dancers also abound.

Looking for some art? There are three places you must check out. First, crop art in the horticulture building. The things people can create with seeds is AMAZING!

My favorite piece of crop art.

My favorite piece of crop art.

The arts and crafts building contains a little of everything. Things made by hip twentysomethings and elderly grandparents. Items from master woodworkers and antique collectors. Definitely worth a peek. Finally, there is the juried collection in the fine arts building. There are museum-worthy pieces and some items that will leave you scratching your head. Just like all the best museums in the world!

Now, my favorite thing at the fair. A must see event. Llamapalooza. Yes, you read that right. It occurs on Wednesday (the only Wednesday in the run of the fair). 4Hers and their llamas or alpacas compete in three areas. One for real prizes and glory, two for fun. The first is the costume contest. Yup. Llama costume contest. It’s divided by the age of the 4Her. Both the handler and llama are in costumes. Judging is based on creativity, workmanship, and how much of the llama or alpaca is covered, their sensitive areas in particular. The animals don’t like things on their tummies or legs and things that move or drag can make them cranky. So, if the llama or alpaca tolerates the costume, wears it with pride, and has those areas covered, they are likely to be in the top. Past costumes have included Batman and Robin, The Argentinian soccer team, the Blues Brothers…and so many more! Once the costumes are wrapped up, it’s on to the llama limbo. The llamas and alpacas line up with their handlers in front of the limbo pole. The alpacas have an edge, as their smaller size typically means they can get a bit lower than their larger llama counterparts. If the animal dislodges the pole, they are out. The pole descends notch by notch and the pool gets smaller until there is a winner. Finally, it’s on to leaping llamas. Like the Limbo, in reverse. The animals jump the pole, as it rises notch by notch. Here, the llamas usually have an advantage as they are larger. The whole thing is magical. You must see it. For serious.

So, there you have it. The fabulous fair. What’s your favorite state fair event or must see?

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