On Star Wars and the Power of Costume

So there has been an exhibit at the Denver Art Museum for a few months now titled, “Star Wars and the Power of Costume.” The exhibit is a traveling one that shows the whole journey of dressing the Star Wars universe. The exhibit has everything from storyboards to final costumes, and has different in-depth stories about the various pieces.

Like how the Jedi are purposefully made to look biblical because they are “good.”

Like how Han Solo’s outfit is more reminiscent of an old west gunslinger as opposed to how we’d think some space dude is supposed to look.

Like how ridiculous of a process it was to put on the Darth Vader costume.

And so on. The exhibition closes here in Denver April 9 and I really wanted to make it to the DAM before it closed, so we picked a day last week and went. The following are a smattering of pictures from the event.

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Explanation.

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Luke Skywalker’s outfit on the left and I believe Anakin on the right. While most Jedi are in white and brown, Luke’s outfit is black at this point (I believe this one was from “Return of the Jedi”) due to the nature of the dark side creeping in.

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I totally remember using these iMacs in high school …

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Princess Leia’s dress.

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The iconic bikini as well as the disguise Leia uses to free Han Solo from Jabba.

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Chewy and Solo.

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Rebel fighters. Joked to B that if he were in Star Wars, this is what he would wear.

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… B’s response was that TIE fighters were cooler so he’d be in these flight outfits instead.

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Droids.

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Darth Vader, I believe from the Hayden Christiansen days.

Cool exhibit. I think there’s a more permanent version of the exhibit at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., but after it leaves Denver, it’s also heading to the Cincinnati Museum Center in Cincinnati, Oh., and the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, in St. Petersburg, Fla.

On Washed Ashore

The Denver Zoo recently had a traveling exhibit called “Washed Ashore – Art to Save the Sea.” I had seen the banners for it while driving and we finally got the chance to go about three days before it ended its residency.

From their website: “Washed Ashore builds and exhibits aesthetically powerful art to educate a global audience about plastic pollution in oceans and waterways and spark positive changes in consumer habits.”

The pieces? Are stunning. I took photos of almost every piece at the zoo (missed one behind glass) and I’ve included my favorites here.

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I adore this marlin.

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The jellyfish in the background is almost all entirely water bottles. Insane.

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Gorgeous parrotfish.

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Close-up. The artistry that went into these is amazing.

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Shark.

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Shark close-up.

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Turtle out of cans.

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Salmon.

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American sea star. In USA colors to bring attention to firework debris.

As I said, the exhibit is no longer in Denver, but they currently also have pieces in Washington, D.C. at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (which might be permanent?). They are also coming soon to the Science Museum of Virginia (Richmond, Va.), Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium (Tacoma, Wash.), and Reiman Gardens (Ames, Ia.).

The Great Southern Road Trip: Day Nine

For our fifth wedding anniversary this year, we decided to take a road trip to race Ironman Chattanooga and cross a whole bunch of states off my list. This is the story of that trip.

Day Nine: 9.27

I had an errand or two to run before we started the fun part of our day, so after we woke up and checked out, we grabbed coffee, hit up a Target, and then went to Waffle House for breakfast. I don’t know what it is about traveling through the south, but the Waffle Houses taste better.

Stop one was the Georgia Aquarium.

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Brandon had gone years ago and loved it; I love aquatic life, so obviously I was all for it.

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There were a couple points where you walked underneath the fish.

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Sarcastic Fringehead. Best. Name. Ever.

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Another fish tunnel.

I enjoyed the aquarium, but out of the two we visited, I would honestly have to give the edge to the Tennessee Aquarium. Even Brandon thought that Georgia’s was a little disappointing. Either that, or aquariums have just gone way downhill since I was a kid …

Our next stop was across the plaza at the World of Coke.

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Coke memorabilia.

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I approved once they came out with Sprite.

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The story behind the bottle was REALLY cool, especially if you know anything about marketing/advertising …

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Coke rumors.

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… highly doubt the *actual* recipe is in here …

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Coca-Cola company products. Some of these took me way back …

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Coke art.

The niftiest part of the whole thing (in my opinion) was the tasting room. We get a lot of flavors of Coca-Cola here in the states, but around the world? There are a lot of different sodas …

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Asia.

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Africa.

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Europe.

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North America.

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North America.

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Brandon trying Surge for the first time in years.

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Central/South America.

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Coke core.

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North America. I forgot how good fruit punch Powerade was …

After the World of Coke, it was off to lunch and out of town.

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Oh hey look, Olympic torch from 1996.

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Lunch was at the Varsity. I’d heard many things about it, and since I was being a tourist … that was lunch.

From Atlanta, it was off to North Carolina for the night. The original plan (back when I sketched this trip out almost a year prior) was to head to Charlotte, but the more we thought about it, the more we decided we didn’t want to go with Charlotte. Well, that, and the political unrest going on didn’t make it a prudent decision. So, we decided on Asheville, so off to Asheville we went.

On a plus, it meant that I hit a few more states, too, thanks to traversing through South Carolina.

We rolled into Asheville late afternoon, got a free dinner at the hotel, and checked out a local brewery.

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Wicked Weed, Asheville, N.C.

I had wine, but Brandon had some seasonal pumpkin something that he really enjoyed.

After a drink, we wandered around, enjoying window shopping as not much else was open. However, we got just enough of a taste to know that we’d like to return someday.

States Hit: 3 (GA, SC, NC)
New States Hit: 2 (SC, NC)

The Great Southern Road Trip: Day Eight

For our fifth wedding anniversary this year, we decided to take a road trip to race Ironman Chattanooga and cross a whole bunch of states off my list. This is the story of that trip.

Day Eight: 9.26

It’s funny how DNFing an Ironman halfway through the bike means you sleep fairly well that night because you’re NOT in the massive amounts of pain that you usually are …

It was hard going down to breakfast at the hotel that morning, seeing everyone in their finisher’s gear, even though we accepted what had happened the day before. Less hard was seeing the ugly finisher’s hats. Justification, absolutely, but whatever.

I would like to give massive props to the lady working the breakfast buffet, as she let me use their kitchen to wash and sanitize all of our water bottles so they wouldn’t be moldy and disgusting when we got home. I’m not sure if she should have let me back there, but I greatly appreciated it.

After breakfast, we met up with Jeremy and Melanie once more before we all rolled out of town. We grabbed coffee at Stone Cup again, because it was just that awesome. We also checked out a local doughnut shop.

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Cool place, but unfortunately, mediocre doughnuts. Although we’re picky …

Post-coffee, back to the hotel. I couldn’t find my iPod in the process of packing and was kind of freaking out. I rush to the car to find it, thankfully do … and somehow manage to lock my keys in the car. With my phone. And my purse. Thankfully, Brandon still had his phone, so he called up our insurance (free roadside assistance) and got a locksmith to come bail us out.

An hour later, we were on our way. I wanted to see the Chattanooga Choo-Choo, so we stopped there while heading out of town.

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(Also a hotel.)

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While en route to the highway that would take us to Atlanta, we saw signs for the Chickamauga Battlefield. As I wrongly thought the bike ride would take us through it, I still wanted to check it out. Brandon agreed, so off we went.

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Such the Civil War.

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Pretending to fire a cannon.

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Cannon.

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Memorial stone.

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You can kind of see the leaves blowing; a storm was rolling in.

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More artillery.

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After the battlefield, I asked Brandon if he wanted to see the scene of the crime (the point where his day on the bike ended). He said yes, so we essentially ended up driving the bike course again; this time, in pouring rain. We stopped at a gas station for a snack and then drove to Atlanta.

By the time we got to Atlanta, we were starving, so we found ourselves a hotel and then went out and grabbed some dinner. After that, it was bedtime, as we had a busy day planned for Tuesday.

States Hit: 2 (TN, GA)
New States Hit: 0

The Great Southern Road Trip: Day Three

For our fifth wedding anniversary this year, we decided to take a road trip to race Ironman Chattanooga and cross a whole bunch of states off my list. This is the story of that trip.

Day Three: 9.21

While eating breakfast at our hotel, we almost considered going back up into Kentucky and hitting up Dinosaur World (near Mammoth Cave National Park), but we planned on Nashville, so off into the city we went. We were totally unsure on what to do (plans, sometimes we need them), but since we have our DMNS reciprocity, I found us a science museum to waste some time at.

The Adventure Science Center is a great place for kids – very hands-on type of activities – but for adults? Maybe not so much. While we had fun for an hour or so, both of us were very glad we didn’t actually spend money on admission.

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I am a child of the ’80s/’90s, so catching a ride with Ms. Frizzle and the gang? Totally awesome.

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It’s a T-Rex!

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The center of the center was essentially an interactive science playground. Mmmaaaayyybe we shouldn’t have been on it as much as we were, but there weren’t signs telling us not to …

After that, we headed into downtown Nashville to hang out.

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Johnny Cash Museum. We did not go inside.

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We were hungry and needed lunch before anything. We were debating on a few different places, but when an easy barbecue option presents itself, you take it.

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Jack’s Bar-B-Que.

After lunch, we decided to check out the Country Music Hall of Fame.

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Walk of Fame-type deal across the street.

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A friend of mine pointed out that the windows make the building look like a piano. Can’t believe I didn’t notice it at the time …

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Old posters inside.

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Love this.

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Tons of records inside.

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The original “Jolene,” a.k.a. Brandon’s favorite Dolly Parton song.

I haven’t been to any of the other music Halls of Fame, but I enjoyed this one. Very cool seeing the evolution of apparel and instruments as well as the early “outside the box” collaborations that happened. We might think Big and Rich, for example, was strange for adding some rap into the mix, but similar mash-ups have been happening for years in the business. I only got into country in college and I kinda sorta have been able to get B into it, but even he really enjoyed everything.

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Ryman Alley.

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Stopped here.

After an afternoon downtown, we found ourselves another hotel near the Grand Ole Opry (if it’s a thing, it’s a subtle thing …) and went on to the Opryland grounds for dinner.

While both of us enjoyed ourselves, we think that Nashville would have been a better stop in the evening as opposed to the day (so as to really see all the neon in its’ glory and to just stop in a random restaurant/bar and hear some live music, kicking back with a beer), and that we might have been best served just getting to Chattanooga a day early.

States Hit: 1 (TN)
New States Hit: 0 (got this yesterday)

SoCal 2016, Day One

About a week or so ago, Brandon and I decided we needed to get the hell out of dodge (that is, Denver) and go on vacation. Okay, truthfully, we decided that quite a ways back, but we actually only managed it in late February. Brandon had some days off so I just decided to take them as well. We also figured, hell, we have the airline benefits, we may as well use them!

My criteria were as follows:
– warm
– no more than one time zone away (sorry, east coast/alaska/hawaii/world)
– flight preferably no longer than two, two and a half hours.

We ended up narrowing it down to northern California, southern California, San Antonio, Las Vegas, and Arizona (probably Tucson). We really didn’t want to do the latter two, as we always go there. About a week out, Brandon started keeping an eye on flights and we decided on SoCal.

Early Wednesday the 24th, we hopped a flight to LAX and started a mini vacation.

Our first stop, since we were kind of hungry? LA icon, Randy’s Donuts.

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We split two doughnuts – a glazed twist and a chocolate frosted.

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Super sugary and super delicious. We’re still partial to Donut Maker here in town, but they were definitely tasty.

After Randy’s, I remarked that I’d never actually seen the Hollywood sign live (or close enough to get a picture of it), so we decided to go somewhere we could see it. The internet said a great viewing spot was actually on Hollywood Blvd, so off to play tourist it was.

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The old 7-Up machine caught our eye; loved this old motel.

We found a meter off Hollywood Boulevard and then it was off to explore some. As we’re not the most hip when it comes to pop culture, we completely spaced that the Oscars were that Sunday, so a good chunk of the Walk of Fame was blocked off for show setup.

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We were still able to access Graumann’s Chinese Theatre and see the hand/foot prints in cement, though, which was totally awesome.

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Theatre.

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Harry Potter!

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Concrete panels. Plus Bogey’s message is hysterical.

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R2D2 and C-3PO’s “foot prints” cracked me up.

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The “Rocky” nerds in us enjoyed Sly’s message.

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I chose to unrealistically put myself in Donald’s webbed prints …

The internet was also accurate in that the shopping center there did have a great vantage point for viewing the Hollywood(land) sign.

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After that, it was looking at all the stars and finding some of our favorites.

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Not a star, but loved the sign.

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Best. Graffiti. Ever.

I’m not sharing all my star photos, but the ones I snagged were Sylvester Stallone (Rocky!), Harrison Ford (Indiana Jones is my spirit animal), Alex Trebek (Jeopardy! for life), and Al Michaels (Do you believe in miracles? YES!).

At that point, we were pretty hungry, so off to In-N-Out it was. I think the dinosaurs were more excited for it, though …

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After lunch, we decided on something slightly more high-brow and headed to the La Brea tar pits. Thanks to our Denver Museum of Nature and Science membership, we were able to get in for free (much like the Natural History Museum in Vegas we go visit). Hooray for reciprocity!

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Flowers in bloom near the pits.

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For some reason, “Asphalt and People” cracked me up. However, this also shows an atlatl, which are freaking cool as hell.

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Husband pulling up metal rods through the asphalt.

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Cross-section of the pit.

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Active dig site.

After La Brea, we made Santa Monica our next stop.

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There was a tiny, cheap aquarium at the pier, so we stopped in.

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If it’s on a pier, is it really the last burger *on land*?

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After that, it was off to the Pacific Coast Highway and Santa Barbara for the night.

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Sunset in Santa Barbara.

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On the pier.

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Not dinner, but loved this place aesthetically.

We did end up eating at a place called Longboard’s Grill, also on the pier. It … was okay. The clam chowder just reaffirmed my decision to not eat it outside of New England (or maaaaaaaybe San Francisco/Seattle). Brandon’s swordfish
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was over peppered. Really, good swordfish just needs a bit of lemon (and perhaps a dash of butter) to be delicious. My lobster roll, well …
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… I’m realizing how important the proper bun really is for the enjoyment of a good lobster roll. Longboard’s? Did not have it.

After that long day, back to the hotel …

(day two coming soon.)

Colorado Has a State Fair?

Well, clearly, I knew that it did … I’ve just never been. Thanks to the husband, I’ve been to Minnesota’s state fair plenty of times, but Colorado’s? Nope. It’s down in Pueblo, it’s hot down there, it’s a crap drive, no one really likes Pueblo (not even some people I’ve known from there) … why would I want to go?

Still, going is something I felt like I should do. We finally decided, you know what, screw it, we’re going this year. We did a long ride in the morning of September 6 and then drove down to see what the Colorado State Fair is all about.

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First impressions are that it’s a lot smaller than the Minnesota State Fair. It’s definitely less of a big deal here in Colorado as it is in Minnesota, where the fair is known as the “Great Minnesota Get-Together.”

We waited in the admission line which was horrible – line was wrapping around the corner and they had, at any one time, two (of six or eight) windows open. For a brief second, a third window was open, but that got closed quickly.

If you go, buy tickets ahead of time if possible.

We walked in and our first thought was FOOD. (We were possibly a bit hangry from our ride still.) Too hungry to walk the entire fair to see what was up for food options, we saw some barbecue truck and split a pulled pork sandwich. I’m so glad we split it because it was … not good. Still, food is food, and it helped calm us down to the point of thinking straight again.

We were right near some cows and a milking demonstration (they were letting kids milk cows), so we decided to walk over and check it out. Brandon got nommed on by a calf; it was kind of cute.

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Like in Minnesota, there was an ice cream/milkshake stand attached to the dairy bar. One of the dairy bars in Minnesota’s is a must-stop for Brandon (chocolate milkshake), so he decided to get one in Colorado to see how it compared. It was good, but not quite as good, according to him. Me, I got a root beer float. Needed more ice cream.

With even more calories in our bellies, we started walking the fair. It didn’t take nearly as long as it does in Minnesota because the Colorado State Fairgrounds take up … maybe a third of the space as in Minnesota? I was disappointed that the shops and stalls were very generic with stuff I felt like I could get anywhere. There was a lack of local crafts and artisans which was disappointing.

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Both state fairs I’ve been to have some variation on this – some church food booth that’s been around forever.

The Colorado State Fair also lacked in food. The Minnesota State Fair is known for its food; Colorado’s … well … there wasn’t a lot of originality. We passed by a bacon booth that looked okay:

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and I stopped there for the bacon-wrapped chicken and the chocolate-covered bacon. The bacon-wrapped chicken was super dry and the chocolate-covered bacon paled in comparison to Famous Dave’s pig-lickers (that you can get at Coors Field, even). We didn’t even finish it.

The creative arts building was okay – not quite as cool or as large as Minnesota’s, but crafts are crafts and you’ll always see different things. One thing that was quite nifty in that building was this:

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So. Many. Colorado. Plates. I happen to like our license plate, so this display was really neat to see.

I did notice one food item in Colorado I hadn’t seen elsewhere – deep-fried Nutella. I was tempted to get it, but I didn’t.

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I also found this lemon lemonade stand cooler than the root beer barrels at the Minnesota State Fair.

I do feel like the midway in Colorado was bigger than Minnesota’s Mighty Midway … if not slightly more ramshackle.

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Was it worth going to? Yes, because now I’ve gone and I don’t have to ever go again. Would I advise it? Well … anything’s usually worth doing once, and I’ll agree with that statement in this case. If you’re a Coloradoan like me, it’s NEVER a bad thing to help support your home state’s economy. If you haven’t been to a different state fair, it also might be worthwhile. But if you’ve been to Minnesota’s, or Iowa’s, or Texas’s … just know that it’s not going to be as good.