Earlier this week my wife texted me, “Why aren’t we still in Vegas?” as she was having fancy hotel vacation withdrawal.
My response was simple, “Because the Minnesota State Fair.”
“Fair enough,” she wittily replied.
Saturday morning we slowly got rolling out the door for our first trip to the 2014 Minnesota Great Get-Together. The weather was perfect. Now, you might think 75-80 degrees with nary a cloud in the sky as perfect weather, but with the Fair that’s just not the case. It was around 70 with extensive cloud cover. The type of clouds which feel so heavy and low that if you had a step ladder, or were NBA height, you could swat at them with your hands. There was also a slight breeze, which made it chilly at moments. So perfect weather for walking and eating without profusely sweating and no direct sunlight to cause my redheaded wife to burst into flames.
We spent a lot of this trip playing the “What-do-you-want-to-do-I-don’t-know-what-do-you-want-to-do-I-don’t-know-what-do-you-want-to-do” game as I’m returning on Tuesday for my all day solo fair extravaganza and because we’re returning next Friday for Prairie Home Companion and again on Saturday as we get to guide two of our friends through their first Fair experience. We didn’t have a lot planned or organized, and because of the nice weather, just sort of muddled about for three hours instead of just doing breakfast at the fair.
We did have two things on the docket for this trip, after passing through the gates my wife went into full on punt returner mode as she weaved in and out of the waddling masses to reach our first destination: Lulu’s Public House. Gasping for breath during our run, I muttered “this traffic is worse than the Crosstown.” On the first day of the Fair, the sandwich we wanted had sold out before 10 AM and with all the excitement, we didn’t want
to miss out. We received a text from a friend, the same one who said he was dreaming about a “Breakfast Lucy,” that we wanted to get into the line on the left side of the building. It was sage advice as we ended up waiting for about 20 minutes to get our first food of the day. The Breakfast Juicy Lulu is self-described as “An English muffin with two American cheese-stuffed sausage patties.” That’s kind of close; it was a ball of cheese surrounded by a ball of sausage on two slices of toast. I suspect the English Muffins took longer to cook than toast and they also weren’t anticipating the demand as one of the new foods. However, for only $5 it was a pretty good deal. I enjoyed the Breakfast Lulu, but it’s really not more than sausage, cheese and toast. My wife, not being an American Cheese aficionado, wasn’t nearly as satisfied. To go with our Breakfast Lulu, she nabbed an order of Gorilla Bread (which is presumable monkey bread that doesn’t have a tail or walk upright on two legs). She was a big fan of the Gorilla Bread, but since I’m not much for sweets in the morning, or anytime really, I thought it was okay.
We wandered around for a bit. Noticed a few funny shirts, but also realized we’ve hit the post-irony stage for wearing ironic t-shits. I know none of my t-shirts are worn ironically, and my wife was proudly sporting her, “I met Lil Sebastian at the Pawnee Harvest Festival” shirt proudly. I also noticed a surprising high percentage of Hawaiian shirts for Minnesota. Most of them were proudly proclaiming, “I like to have fun, but I’m concerned about straying too far away from business casual.
We checked out the sheep—with an uncomfortable percentage of them sporting white hoods like they were participating in a Tea Party rally—and spent some time perusing the rabbits. With the typical urban rabbit running around, it’s easy to forget rabbits run the
gamut in size from “Eek! Is that a mouse?” to “Bringing me Solo and the Wookie” in size. Rabbits were also being judged while we were there, and when it comes to judging animals I really only have one criteria, “is it delicious, or not?” After spending a few minutes mesmerized while an early teen and judge repeatedly digging around and poking a rabbit near its swimsuit parts (do rabbits wear swimsuits? Just because I haven’t seen it, doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened), we headed off to less confusing areas.
We examined some giant-ass vegetables (the massive green bean is not to be missed), spent some time learning about bees, checked out the crop art (seemed like there was less crop art this year and it was both less political and less humorous overall) and had a glass of cider which is one of my favorite things at the fair, all in the Horticultural Building. Shortly thereafter, we continued the liquid parade with a glass of 1919 root beer (another thing that should never be skipped).
Running low on time, we needed to head to Costco, we had two last things to do. First on
that list were the pretzel curds from O’Gara’s . Neither my wife, nor I were big fans—especially for the price. The pretzel curd description sounds amazing, “These real Wisconsin cheddar cheese curds are coated in a batter made from crushed pretzels, bread crumbs and American Pilsner beer; deep-fried to create a crunchy outside and a soft delicious inside; and served with a zesty dipping sauce.” The reality is a little different. They were crunchy and the pretzel taste was good, but it was overpowering and you couldn’t taste the cheese at all. It was like eating a ball of pretzels with a tasteless tofu center. They weren’t bad, but they were expensive and, quite frankly, the outside of curd is really just a portable hot cheese delivery system.
The pretzel curds also sucked the moisture out of our mouths, so we had one last stop at the Ball Park Cafe to see if we could score the mini donut beer. Last year, I managed to get one midweek, by lining up about fifteen minutes before they started serving it (one keg a day,
and when it’s gone, it’s gone). However, a group of us attempted to do the same thing on a Saturday; the line was down the street and around the corner and fulfilling about 42% of the people required to attempt Hands Across America 2. This Saturday amazingly, we walked right up to the counter and got our sugar rimmed glass of beer. My wife took a sip. A puzzled look spread across her face, “I’m trying to figure out what that taste is” she said. “It tastes just like a liquid mini donut,” I replied. We stopped the conversation there as I realized she was trying to determine what made it taste like a mini-donut, and not the beer’s mini donutedness. Either way, the music playing in the Ball Park Cafe was selected to get people to drink their beers and leave. So that’s just what we did.