Category Archives: State Fair

Minnesota State Fair 2011


I’m a little late, but it was State Fair time again… I left my camera at the cabin, so the only photo I have is one taken with my phone of a calf just after being born.  Moo.

I went to the fair twice this year.  The first time was with my sister on a slightly rainy Tuesday.  We arrived early in the morning (8:30-ish) and got in as much as we could before I went to work at the milk booth for the second year in a row.  As we were heading in, the ticket takers offered us a map.

A calf born about 30 minutes before the picture was taken

A calf born about 30 minutes before the picture was taken in the Miracle of Life barn

“Do we want one?” I asked my sister.

“We could,” she said, “Or we could just rely on the fact that we’ve been coming here for over 25 years and we have the place memorized.”

“Right,” I said, “Let’s go with the second option.”

And into the fair we went, eating in chronological order…

  • Deep fried pickles — a breakfast of champions, including all three varieties (regular, gourmet (with cream cheese), and cajun)
  • Sarsaparilla — not root beer, the real stuff (Anne passed)
  • Deep fried cheese curds — from the Mouse Trap
  • Strawberry banana smoothie — Actually, this was just Anne
  • Sunflower honey ice cream — made with real Minnesota honey
  • French Fries — World’s Greatest, so says the sign
  • Brownie — The brownies used to be by the milk stand, and Anne and I reminisced about when they used to be breakfast
  • Free water from the WCCO booth — They no longer carry Twins games, but they still give away free water at the fair
  • Lots of milk — poured by yours truly
  • The best chocolate malt in the world from the Dairy Barn, given gratis for my milk booth shift — Anne missed out on this
We also bought a “Happy Meal” of gourmet dog treats for Cooper.  This has become an annual tradition and the dog has actually learned “Want a french fry?”  (It’s just a biscuit shaped like a french fry, but he loves them.)  And of course, beyond the food we also visited the animal barns, stopped by the Twins booth and MPR, checked out the seed art, and ran through the old train in Heritage Square.
We split up at shortly before 1 pm when she went home and I went to go work a four hour shift at the All-You-Can Drink Milk booth.  Anne wasn’t up for volunteering with me, but I love the opportunity to see the cross-section of Minnesota… okay, the very white cross-section of Minnesota.  (Just for fun, I counted and I had two black customers all day out of 400+… and one wasn’t actually a customer as he was just accompanying friends and didn’t want any for himself.)  After my shift, I took the Skyride back to Heritage Square where I picked up another batch of deep fried pickles to bring to my dad who drove me home.
The next day I was hanging out with mom, and we started trying to figure out what to do for lunch.  “You know,” I said, “I kind of want hotdish on a stick.”
“Well,” she responded, “I could go for a corn dog.”
So… off to the fair again.  This time the goal was lunch, so while we visited a few animal barns and participated in the Great Minnesota Sing-a-long, we also ate…
  • Hotdish on a stick — It’s not that I like it because it’s delicious, but because it’s ridiculous
  • Corn dog — Okay, just my mom, but I had a bite
  • French Fries — Again, the World’s Greatest!
  • Frozen Key Lime Pie on a Stick — Dipped in chocolate!
  • Virgin pina colada served in a real pineapple — These were $9 each or two for $10, so unexpectedly getting one for my mom seemed like a no brainer.  She was a little perplexed when I showed up with one for her.
  • A big tub of taffy — We didn’t actually eat this at the fair, but delivered it to my dad (and I had a few at home)
  • A big bucket of Sweet Martha’s Chocolate Chip Cookies…
  • … and another glass of milk.

In Which I Pig Out At the Fair… and pour a lot of milk

Tony Oliva pitches wiffle balls to little kids, minutes before he SIGNS MY HAT!

Yesterday was my annual trip to the Minnesota State Fair with two major highlights: Tony Oliva signed my Twins cap (!!!!!!!) and I poured over a thousand glasses of milk while working the All-You-Can-Drink Milk booth.
Plus, I ate a lot of food… the annual list:

  • Cheese Curds
  • Mini-donuts
  • Deep Fried Mac and Cheese on a Stick
  • Honey Sunflower ice cream — possibly the best thing I ate
  • Scotch egg
  • Milk (two glasses only — 1000+ poured)
  • One (free!) chocolate milk shake (in exchange for pouring all the milk)
  • Ginger Beer
  • Sweet Martha’s Cookies (actually, still eating them as I type)
Four hours of pouring over 1000 glasses of milk!

My dad, as an employee of the University of Minnesota Ag School, was notified of the sign ups for volunteers to work the milk booth. Given that paying my dollar and consuming a lot of dairy is one of my annual highlights, it seemed fitting that I should give back and work a four hour shift pouring milk. In return, my mother and I got free admission to the fair, a T-shirt, a hat, all the milk we could drink (but not during our shift, which severely cut back the amount I drank) and one free item from the dairy barn (of which I picked a chocolate milk shake).
Despite my currently still sore right shoulder, working the booth was a ton of fun. My favorite customers were the elderly couple who very calmly drank four glasses each (him white, her chocolate) before waving goodbye and saying “See you next year.” I got the feeling they’d been doing that for 50 years (which is possible — the milk booth first opened in 1955). Another highlight was the little girl who, upon prompting her for her favorite dairy product, responded “Pizza!”
“That’s not really dairy,” I told her.
“No, but it has dairy on it!” she said.
Smart kid…
And for the other highlight of the day… over behind the Twins booth was a small “stadium” where I noted some kids playing wiffle ball. My mom wanted to skip it, but I insisted that we go look. And who should be pitching to the kids, but Twins great and should-be-Hall-of-Famer Tony Oliva! We stayed to watch him toss a few wiffle balls and then he left the “field,” walking right by me. I suspect because I was wearing my Twins hat and 2009 Central Division Champions shirt, he patted me on the arm as he walked by and said, “How you doin’, babe?” After calling my dad and getting a message to pass along, we followed him into the Twins booth where he started chowing down on some cheese curds. Someone else asked him to sign a book, so I decided that was a good time to ask him to sign my hat, which he graciously did.
“My dad says to tell you that the Cuban sandwich at the Tony O’s stand at Target Field is really good,” I told him.
He, with a mouth full of cheese curds, made the “Let me finishing chewing” gesture before saying “Thank you!”
Highlight of my year, I tell you.
Then we went off to the Minnesota Public Radio area where Garrison Keillor was giving an interview for the Midday show. What a Minnesotan day!

State Fair 2009


StateFair2009.JPGAh, the end of summer… time for the annual “Erin eats her way across the Minnesota State Fair post.” And so, without further ado, the foods I ate on Friday were:

  • A sarsaparilla custard float… think root beer float, but with sarsaparilla and frozen custard
  • State Fair French Fries… an annual tradition and favorite of my mother’s
  • Hotdish on a Stick (see photo)… this might be the most quintessential State Fair Food I have ever eaten. Take a stick and make a kebab of meatball, tater tot, meatball, tater tot, etc. Cover it in corn dog batter and deep fry it. Serve with cream of mushroom sauce. It was delicious.
  • All-I-Could-Drink-Milk… only three glasses this year. I think they’ve gotten bigger. Plus, we screwed up our ordering and went from here to the Dairy Barn, where my stomach refused to let me order a milkshake. Sad, because those are the best milkshakes in the world.
  • Stuffed Olives on a stick… onion, garlic, pimento, sun-dried tomato (given away due to allergies), and a jalapeno
  • Honey taffy… actually, I’m still eating that as I brought a bunch home.
  • Deep fried cheese curds… Quite possibly the most unhealthy thing I look forward to all year. Yes, you can get cheese curds in Wisconsin, but can you get them deep fried?
  • Deep fried macaroni-and-cheese on a stick… you think we’d be all cheese-on-a-stick’ed out at this point, but no.
  • A sample of some organic-all-natural-whatever cheese from the environmental building… it was good, but a little too healthy for the fair.
  • A Happy Dog Meal… okay, I didn’t eat this. But we did buy one for Cooper. It included “french fries” which smell remarkably like real french fries, a “mini-bacon cheeseburger,” a “bacon bone,” a “cheese biscuit,” a “cheesy chicken wrap,” and a “peanut butter cannoli.” (Okay, in actuality, these were all flavored dog biscuits.)
  • Chocolate-Vanilla twist frozen custard in a cone… This was to make up for the lack of a milkshake.
  • A lingonberry sno-cone… A good refreshing palette cleanser after a solo trip on the Sky Ride (because my sister refused to go).
  • Sweet Martha’s Cookies… two buckets of them. Mmmm… delicious with ice cold milk.

State Fair Placentophagy


It is time for my annual report of being gluttonous at the Minnesota State Fair. This year I hit the fair in two separate trips. Last night with my mom and dad, we saw Brandi Carlile in a free concert, which was awesome — her cover of “Hallelujah” is fantastic (better than Rufus Wainwright, not as good as Jeff Buckley… but who is?). Today with my mother and sister we saw the animal barns, which was also awesome because of my first ever observation of placentophagy. (Note that I don’t mean to imply any similarities between the awesomeness of Brandi Carlile and the awesomeness of placentophagy.)
But before I get to the sheep eating one of the richest sources of proteins available, here is the list of foods I ate:

  • Pig Lickers (chocolate covered bacon) — Delicious, but rich
  • A turkey drumstick — generally reserved for Renaissance Festivals, it fits in well with the State Fair’s “on-a-stick” theme
  • Frozen apple cider — So fresh it still tasted like apples
  • A honey stick — Just a quarter for a straw full of clover honey
  • The best chocolate malt ever — I wait all year for this dairy barn treat, located next to the butter sculptures
  • Birch Beer — Why drink a standard Coca Cola or Pepsi product when all this variation is available?
  • Sweet Martha’s Chocolate Chip Cookies — Comes in a giant bucket
  • Scotch Egg (hard boiled egg stuffed in pork sausage and slathered in horseradish… on a stick, duh) — Always a favorite
  • Deep fried cheese curds — A mouthwatering heart attack waiting to happen
  • All-I-Could-Drink Milk — A pathetically low number of three glasses this year (because we were only there once and my sister wouldn’t let us return for more)
  • Raspberry Chocolate Wine Ice Cream — I couldn’t taste the supposed wine
  • Black Cow (root beer float with chocolate syrup) — I was skeptical, but it was good
  • Bites of my mother’s corn dog and my sister’s brownie — Always share
  • Free water from WCCO radio to wash it all down!

And now for the part you’ve been waiting for… at the Miracle of Birth Center (i.e. stick a bunch of pregnant animals in a barn and hope most of them give birth during the fair), a sheep had given birth to two lambs just before we arrived. When we got there, the birth was so new that the placenta had just fallen out and some of it was still attached to the mother and the umbilical cords were still attached to the lambs. Sure enough, mom and babies were nibbling at that rarest of protein sources, the placenta.
For the human kids in attendance, it was quite the learning experience. I heard more than one parent awkwardly trying to explain to their kid just what they were seeing. “No, dear, it’s okay that she’s bleeding. That’s natural.” “Um, I’m not sure why she’s eating it. Maybe it tastes good.”
And for lasting this long into the entry, if you’re not easily grossed out by the facts of life, here’s one of my tamer photos of the scene. And here’s a little more detailed one, but not for the faint of heart (or all work places). (Both photos are >2MB.)

Minnesota State Fair 2007


Today I bought a T-shirt with the following Garrison Keillor poem on the back which pretty much sums up my afternoon:

You had a bratwurst and corn on the cob
A hot fudge sundae and a shish kebob
You got a bucket of cheese curds in your hand
And yet you’re stopping at the hot dog stand
You had a taco four inches thick
And a deep-fried walleye on a stick
You better be careful with that Pronto Pup
‘Cause what goes down might come back up

Note: Food consumed today may vary slightly from those listed in the poem.
Also, once I get my camera cable (left in Michigan) I’ll post pictures of both the Fair and the 35W bridge (taken from afar).

State Fair


“Our state fair is a great state fair…”
Okay, the bulleted list of today’s highlights of my annual visit to the Minnesota State Fair:

  • Seeing a calf be born — Walking in to the fair, we saw a new building — the Miracle of Birth Center. Upon approaching the building, we noticed it was packed with people. As it turns out, we arrived just in time to see a cow give birth, with placenta and everything. However, they are not yet at the point of serving placenta as a fair food. (I would try it though — seriously.)
  • Princess Kay in butter — One of the Princess Kay of the Milky Way candidates was having her head sculpted into butter, as is tradition, in a chilled room in the Empire Commons. She mentioned that both of her older sisters had been dairy princesses, and thus this will be the third butter head in her parents freezer. These are 90 pound blocks of butter. I suspect they must have a separate freezer just for the butter heads.
  • The food — Many glasses of milk, a scotch egg (hard boiled egg surrounded by sausage), deep fried macaroni and cheese on a stick, a chocolate ice cream cone, a lingonberry ice cream float, fried cheese curds, ginger beer, chocolate covered cheesecake on a stick, and probably more that I’m forgetting. I think I will eat salads for the rest of the week.
  • Flying over the fair — Rode on both of the gondola rides — the original Sky Ride that takes you from Heritage Square to the Agriculture Building and the much newer Sky Glider, which takes you from the north end of the fair (near the Twins booth) to the Grandstand.
  • The Barbary Coast Dixieland Show Band — These guys were great. Clarinets, trombones, trumpets, a banjo, an upright bass, and drumset — and most of them rotated around a few of these. The highlight for me was the Washington and Lee Swing, a swing version of my high school rouser.
  • The animals — Not just the newborn calf, but pigs, sheep, cows, chickens, ducks, geese, and even a few horses (though the main horse barn was closed today).

I love the fair.

Royals 2, Twins 0


Well, that sucked. I went from the best game ever to pretty much the worst game ever. Last night’s game was one of those games non-baseball fans use as an example of how “Baseball is boring.” Other than the 2 run fifth inning, Garza pitched pretty well and held the Royals at bay. Unfortunately, the Twins really couldn’t get anything going offensively the entire game. Kudos to Royals pitcher (and former Twin) Mark Redman for the shutout, but you were supposed to pitch like that when you pitched for Minnesota, not against them.
And I was inside the whole time, which brings me to my second point and rant.
Yesterday Hennepin County passed whatever it is they needed to pass to approve the sales tax that gives the new Twins stadium the green light. Great news for Minnesota baseball fans, right? Well as a Twins fan, I would think so, but today at the Great Minnesota Get Together, I discovered that there are fans who like the Dome. I was standing in line to get fair tickets when I heard the following conversation behind me:
“… I can’t believe they’re going to build a stadium without a roof. What will they do if it rains? And you know, it still snows in April so they’re going to have problems with that too. It’s all these young people… they want the outdoor stadium so they can drink their beer and take their shirts off. They don’t care about the game.”
Now, I’ve been to six major league baseball stadiums this year, nine in the past two years. The Metrodome, despite being the stadium I grew up with, remains firmly at the bottom of my stadium rankings, even when you throw in AAA Toledo, primarily because it is indoors. It’s dull and lifeless in there, even when the crowd gets going (which it did on a few occassions last night — mostly on great defensive plays, since as I said before, there was pretty much no Twins offense). Upper deck seats, which I’ve come to enjoy at other stadiums because of the birds eye view, are even worse than the rest of the dome because you can practically reach up and touch the ceiling.
It’s an outdoor sport. It’s supposed to be played outside. You’re not supposed to be in a giant bubble where you don’t notice the sunset. When it rains, you schedule a rain date. When it snows, then I suppose you schedule a snow date. This works for every other team in the league — I don’t see why it’s not going to work for the Twins.
And I’m not even going to touch the comment about young people just wanting to take their shirts off. That’s just a whole new level of absurd.
Be upset because there’s a new tax that will cost you approximately $17 a year if you want. But don’t be upset because you think indoor baseball is better. That’s just wrong.
End rant.

The Great Minnesota Get Together

Macaroni and Cheese on a Stick!

Yesterday I went to the Minnesota State Fair… which perhaps ought to be renamed the Great Minnesota Pig Out. I was only there for the evening, as my co-fairgoers, Amy and Annie, were at work during the day. As a result, I didn’t get to eat as much as I normally do. The list of foods digested is as follows:

  • All-You-Can-Drink-Milk-For-$1: 3.5 glasses (two chocolate, one 2%, one split with Annie)
  • Fried Macaroni and Cheese on a Stick… not as disgusting as it sounds
  • Lefsa with ligonberry jam and butter
  • Free water from the (new) WCCO booth
  • Mini-donuts (split with Amy)
  • Ginger beer (no rum)
  • Pickle dog (large pickle coated in cream cheese, wrapped in pastrami)
  • Bucket of Sweet Martha’s Cookies (split 3 ways with leftovers)
  • Sparkling Cider Float (sparkling apple cider and ice cream)
Pigging out at the fair

Of course, we did more than just eat… we wandered through the International Bazaar, checked out the crop art in the Agricultural building, and hung out in Heritage square, where I made Amy a stylish newspaper hat from the newspaper museum. (By the way, Johnston would love the working linotype.) Following Heritage Square, we took a trip over the fair on the SkyRide, in which I had to promise not to rock the cart so that my sister would join us.

After the ride, we wandered over to the animal barns and saw a sow and her piglets sleeping peacefully in the hay. In the neighboring stall was Minnesota’s biggest pig (1060 pounds). I seem to recall the biggest pig being much bigger when I was younger — more like 12-1300 pounds. I guess people like leaner pork these days. After the pigs, we visited the cows, sheep, and horses. Since we were there in the evening, most of the animals were preparing for bed, but there was a showing of some 4-H Holsteins just outside the main cattle barn. However, Annie insisted that we MOOOve along. (I am so sorry for that… actually, I’m not.)

Once we had finished stuffing our faces and visiting the animals, we moved on to the Midway where the rides were discounted for “Thrifty Thursday.” Annie convinced us to go on some ride where we spun around and flipped upside down and I nearly lost the fried macaroni and cheese. But I didn’t. On the other hand, after a bingefest like that, tonight I opted for a salad. After all, I’m going back on Tuesday — I have to be prepared.