I was raised to speak “state fair.” I learned the basics in South Dakota when my parents set my brother and I loose to go on the rides, make spin-art pictures, and eat caramel apples, yes, on a stick. Later, my high school band marched at the fair and the day always ended with the grandstand show. The South Dakota Fair in Huron is just six days. In the 70s, they booked an entertainment act in the grandstand just two or three nights and featured the rodeo the other evenings. My bandmates and I preferred to see a musical act, that being more special than a rodeo. One year we hit the jackpot. The pop group, The New Vaudeville Band performed, including their hit single”Winchester Cathedral.” The best part? Somehow, several of us were invited on stage during one of the songs. What can I say about this sole groupie experience? It was thrilling, though I think I recall that we giggled through most of it.
Earlier this year, during a networking event, I met a delightful student studying at the University of Minnesota. He’s kept in touch with me and we had lunch a few weeks ago. Before he returns to France, his Minnesota pals wanted him to experience our state fair. They wanted him to have the experience of all manner of deep-fried food on a stick.
“I’m nervous about it,” he confided.
“There’s more to the State Fair than all that crazy, odd food,” I protested. “There’s even food that isn’t extreme, say the pork chop-on-a-stick, watermelon slices, fruit sorbet, Middle Eastern mint lemonade.”
He returned a doubtful half smile. I couldn’t stop. “Then there’s Creative Activities, the 4-H building, the Art Show, and the ikebana and dahlias in the Horticulture Building where Crop Art is housed.
I walked the fair today with my friend Malinda, our annual outing. I thought of that young Frenchman discovering our State Fair, as we hit our own highlights. We tasted one of the new-this-year foods: hot dish on a stick. Not a winner. However, the slow-roasted split pork shanks were delicious. They go by the name of “Porketta Pork Wings.” Malinda loved the very minty lemonade from the Holy Land deli. I enjoyed the vanilla, non-dairy frozen dessert at the Dole booth.
We strolled by the usual places. It was a lovely day, first with a cool breeze in many days.
I have re-affirmed for myself.
1. The fair always evokes fond memories of fairs past.
2. I love the Minnesota State Fair.
3. Crop Art never disappoints.
*All images in this post are Minnesota State Fair Crop Art, 2013