Went to the Minnesota State Fair Friday and it was not bad.
Actually we haven’t gone yet, so the above echo of Mrs. Sundberg is premature. We’ll be heading for the grounds in the afternoon to catch Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion show at the Grandstand this evening.
Minnesota is the granddaddy of all state fairs; it began in 1859. Now around 1.8 million people attend each year during the 12 days of its run, which always ends on Labor Day. That’s 100K – 200K people per day wandering over the fairgrounds’ 320 acres (exactly half a square mile).
The Fair, run by a self-supporting quasi-state agency, lays on 2500 part-time staffers while it’s running, and employs 300 during the summer and 80 year-round. A non-profit fundraising agency maintains the fairgrounds and sees to maintenance and improvement of the historic buildings thereupon.
Here’s some of what I hope to see today. We plan on going back and visiting again on Labor Day to bat cleanup on the following list:
X on a stick. This Fair is famous for its weird food. Vendors strive to outdo one another each year with yet more outrageous foodstuffs to serve on a stick so fairgoers can wander at will with their meals. To the best of my knowledge, the Minnesota State Fair is what put “X on a stick” in the culinary vocabulary (such as it is).
Princess Kay of the Milky Way. She reigns over the Fair. A Princess Kay has been chosen every year since 1954 from the “cream” of Minnesota dairy farm girls. Katharyn longed to be chosen Princess Kay, but knew she would never qualify, growing up in the city and all.
Butter sculpture. A sculptor carves likenesses of Princess Kay and her entourage in butter each day at the fair. I have been fascinated for years by this practice ever since coming across this poem by Andrea Cohen, in Poetry Magazine.
Wish me luck. If I don’t return you will probably find me passed out on the fairgrounds from dairy overload. Send statins, stat.