The Great Minnesota Get Together

Minnesotans are very prideful people. We love our lakes, Bob Dylan, Prince, and our generally awful sports teams. But we especially love our state fair. Don’t you Iowans dare tell us that your fair is better. Even Wisconsin natives know that their fair sucks and readily admit to it. The Minnesota state fair reigns supreme over all others except maybe Texas, which I’ve heard has a pretty bangin’ fair too. But they are far enough away that they aren’t too much of a threat. As they say, everything’s bigger in Texas.

Some people go for the rides, others for the animals, but most go for the food. I personally go primarily for the food, people watching, and riding the giant slide. The sky ride is pretty fun too if you’ve got time.

I went on the opening day this year with my brother Gus, which sadly is the only time I will make it this year. I would go several times if I could, but for the sake of my waistline and my wallet I usually stick to twice at most.

Growing up, my family went to the fair every few years. My parents don’t like it very much… which I think is absolutely insane. IT’S THE BEST THING EVER! I remember one year they relented and bought me a blow up hammer, which really surprises me. They hardly ever gave in to that crap, so I must have whined my ass off.

I enjoyed the fair when I was younger, but my love affair with it really began in high school. Every year during the first week of school, the cross country team skipped school and went to the fair. I woke up around 4 am to get to school by 5, then we all bused to the fair and got there before 6. Upon arrival, we set forth cleaning out the entire horse barn for several hours. After shoveling hay and horse shit for hours, we emerged quite smelly and covered in a thin layer of dirt and dust, starving, ready to take on as much food as possible with our roaring teenage runner metabolisms.

Even with my slightly slower college metabolism, the food is still my main focus. There are a few favorites that I get almost every year, but I usually try the funky new foods. Here is what I had the pleasure of eating this year:

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Lychee flavored kombucha on tap from the Produce Exchange. Verdict: delicious and refreshing.
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Sweet Martha’s Cookies are a MUST every year. Warm, fresh baked chocolate chip cookies. Gus and I only got a large cone this year, which is playing it modest. Most fair goers buy a bucket. Yes, a bucket. Sweet Martha’s fills it until they literally can’t stack any more cookies onto the bucket without everything toppling over. Best tactic if you are with a group: buy a bucket to share, walk over to the $2 all you can drink milk stand, and sit in the grass behind the milk stand. Perfection.
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Sriracha Sliders from Sausage Sister & Me (located in the Food Building). Pretty much like spicy sliders. If you like spice and sliders, then these are for you.
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Stuffed grape leaves on a stick from Holy Land in the International Bazaar. Only $2 and very tasty!
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Fried pickles. You really can’t go wrong with this classic. Careful – they always come out piping hot.
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Craving a big ‘ol hunk a meat? The giant turkey drumstick has got you covered. 3 flavors – classic, sweet glazed, and buffalo. However Gus ate this, not me. It sure looks tasty though!
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Chilled bread pudding from the Blue Moon Dine-In. There are multiple ways to customize this dish – I chose challah for the base, and berries and pecans for my toppings. Get away from the crowds and relax with this dish while watching an old movie or TV show in their makeshift theater.

There you have it folks, what I ate in the span of four hours. I’m a little sad that I didn’t get around to trying the sriracha balls, mac & cheese cupcake, or coconut-infused Fudge Puppy, but there is always next year.

In conclusion, here are my top fair tips:

  1. Get a buttload of cash out of the ATM.
  2. Kiss that cash goodbye. You will never see it again.
  3. Buy whatever your heart desires.
  4. Don’t worry about being healthy.
  5. Don’t worry about money.
  6. Have a worry-free grand old time.

If you have never had the pleasure of experiencing the Great Minnesota Get Together, I sincerely hope that one day you do. I will personally volunteer myself as your official tour guide and taste-tester; all you have to do is buy me some cookies.

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Until next year, my friend.

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