Minnesota State Fair, 2017

I’ve written about the Minnesota State Fair a few times (most notably last year, when it got its own post), but as we like to go most years … you get another one!

We snuck in for the day – left Denver at 6am and left Minneapolis about 12 hours later. A car was rented, street parking was found, and enough fair food was consumed to make me realize that this is getting harder and harder for my stomach to handle as the years go by. Urp.

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Pre-fair shot. Yay, excitement!

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We were starving, and Brandon still wanted something breakfast-y, so we headed over to the French Meadow booth. They sadly got rid of their doughsants (*tear*), so none of that for me, but we did try their breakfast croissant sandwich. It was okay. It tasted good until it didn’t … probably because of the (we think chive) in the eggs.

We headed into the DNR building to look at fishies after that, but it was hard to do as it was super crowded in there. Oh well.

Still hungry, we decided to try one of the foods we discussed last year: a Pronto Pup.

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With stands all over the fair, these are some of the most popular corn dogs at the fair, and apparently the ones preferred by adults. Neither of us was impressed (at all), and it prompted us to get better food.

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I waited in line to get the Fresh French Fries while B went and got a chocolate milkshake from the Gopher Dairy Bar. This year, both were delicious, but only when combined together for that perfect salty/sweet combination. When each thing was consumed on its own, it didn’t do it.

With that many calories consumed in that short of time … it was time to walk the food off. We looked at a lot of the animals, petting a gorgeous horse (that apparently was a world champion) and laughing at the chickens. And watching a cock fight try to break out (as best as it could despite the fact that all combatants were in separate cages).

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Really enjoyed the Libertarian Party booth and their commitment to the “on a stick” theme that the MN State Fair is known for.

After meandering through the agriculture building and the international bazaar, we decided to try a bit more food.

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Cheese curds are still the best, though maybe I should avoid the mutant curds that are like three-in-one. I think my heart still hurts from that one.

We sat for a little while after the curds, resting our feet and enjoying the shade. We did eventually get back up and stroll over to the Machinery Hill area of things. I heard that Giggles Campfire Grill had a fish (walleye) sandwich so I sort of wanted to check that out (for the next visit), but the pictures made it look like a thing that I would not be interested in.

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New Ferris wheel on grounds.

We thought some vegetables would be good to possibly settle things, so our next stop was the corn roast.

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We were planning on splitting an ear of corn like we had split everything else thus far that day, but the guy asked B if he wanted a two-for-one …

The corn weirdly enough worked to settle our stomachs enough (oh, beautiful vitamins) to be able to squash down our last bit of fair food, the Minneapple Pie.

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Mmm, delicious deep-fried apple pie.

On our way out, we encountered the parade, so we sat and watched it (because we never really do). I snapped only a few photos.

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Princess Kay of the Milky Way float (basically a “Miss (teen?) Dairy Farmer” award specifically for the fair. Not sure what her duties are, but she gets her head carved out of butter.).

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Vike-Bike. This was just too awesome to NOT get a picture of.

Parade done, we left and headed back to our car. With perfect timing, too, as it started raining as we drove off.

A stop at Starbucks for some iced tea and to change, and then back to the airport (where I bought a teensy tiny salad which tasted so dang delicious) to catch a flight back home.

If you’re interested, the fair runs for another few days, through Labor Day.

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On The Great Minnesota Get Together

Last year, the husband and I decided to skip Minnesota’s state fair and actually check out Colorado’s. It … was disappointing, to say the least. So, this year, we went back out to Minnesota. Much better.

It was actually a fairly simple trip, as far as fair visits go. Didn’t really try much new (except the apple version of the Minneapple pie), but enjoyed our favorites.

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Love the pepper building … even if I’ve never tried their food.

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Never ever knew the Fair had a grocery store, but it is a cool little place.

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I love cheese curds, but even I don’t think I could eat a family-size bucket of them … *urp*

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Scarecrow as part of an exhibit in the Agriculture building.

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Agreed.

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The fair had these guys around the fairgrounds to take selfies with. We did not.

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Because it’s not a fair trip without chickens.

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Mmmm, dough-sant.

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Tried a smoothie. It was okay. B might be switching up his corn dogs …

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Not a bucket, but a boat of curds.

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Realized I needed a photo halfway through snarfing these.

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Because french fries and chocolate shakes are a fantastic pairing.

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Our deep-fried pumpkin and apple pies. I loved the pumpkin last time, but having the two together made me like the apple way better.

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.

On the Great Minnesota Road Trip

In late August, I took a little over a week off work to drive to Minnesota for a small vacation. I detoured through Indianapolis to pick up Brandon from recurrent training and then continued on north. We hit up the Minnesota State Fair and I got to see the North Shore for the first time, which was super exciting (for me). Here is a glimpse into the trip, in photos.

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Working early on little sleep and then driving far (Denver to Independence, Mo.) meant I needed to stay awake. This photo is of me the most caffeinated I’ve been since probably high school.

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Well played, random Indiana sign. This actually makes sense.

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Dinner view in Indianapolis.

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Norske Nook, in Osseo, Wisc. Supposedly really good pie. I was disappointed in said pie.

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Across this bridge and into Minnesota.

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At the State Fair. Seen eating a dough-sant, the Minnesota version of a cronut. Super tasty.

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Brandon’s face after trying my breakfast sausage (in pancake batter) on a stick.

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From the top of the Giant Slide.

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Deep-fried pumpkin pie. Quite possibly the best thing I ate at the fair that day.

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Dinosaurs and cheese curds.

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U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in Eveleth, Minn.

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World’s largest hockey stick in Eveleth, Minn.

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On Shagawa Lake in Ely, Minn. Brandon spent a lot of his youth fishing for walleye on this lake.

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With my delicious walleye sandwich for dinner at Grandma’s in Duluth, Minn.

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Being a nerd at Split Rock Lighthouse.

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Split Rock.

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Dinosaurs at the lighthouse light … playing their own form of Wipeout.

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Split Rock.

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Lighthouse selfie.

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Gooseberry Falls.

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Upper Gooseberry Falls.

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View at lunch near Two Harbors, Minn.

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Sign at Black Bear Casino in Minnesota. Silly snowmobilers …

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Driving a tractor at the in-laws’ house.

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With the Herb Brooks statue just outside the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.

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At Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis, Minn.

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Izzy’s Ice Cream, St. Paul, Minn.