Archive for August, 2006

Minnesota State Fair: Part 3

Because of this massive three part blog post, I feel like I have been at the state fair for the last five days.  I assure you I have not.  I am actually back in Buffalo.  Tomorrow I am heading to Baltimore for a wedding, and then finally I can hunker down at home.  This has been a great summer.

Grandstand

The Oddities

Not everything in this final state fair post is odd.  Mostly, this post represents a collection of the uncatogorizable odds and ends I found at the fair this year. 

I’ll start with the least odd, and move on to the freakish from here.  I happen to know a knitting superstar.  Her name is Susie Farnum, and every year she wins multiple ribbons for her beautiful creations.  No day at the state fair would be complete without a visit to see Susie’s knitted swag. 

Susie_farnum_1 Susie_farnum_2 Susie_farnum_3

Susie probably designed and knit all of this stuff up one evening while watching television- she is crafty that way.

I like to spend a few minutes in the Horticulture building looking at gigantic pumpkins and prize winning seeds.  I am always amused by the concept of vegetable competitions.  For example:

Blue_corn Red_corn

I hope that the grower of the red ribbon corn is ashamed of himself.  That corn is an embarrassment.  Just look at it!  I think I can hear the blue ribbon corn laughing. 

I discovered something new at the fair this year, the Telvac Personality Analysis Machine.  This highly scientific machine uses cutting edge technology to analyze the customer’s handwriting.

Sign Personality_analysis_1 

You can tell the technology is working by the hundreds of blinking red lights covering the surface of the machine.  Once the technician has inserted your handwriting sample, the machine performs it’s mathematical wonders, and a personalized computer printout reveals the inner workings of your soul.  I was amazed to discover I am "generous to a fault" and "occasionally mischievous".  Just think of all of the money wasted on therapy by millions of Americans who have never heard of The Telvac Personality Analysis Machine.  What a shame. 

And now for the weirdest, oddest, freakiest Minnesota State Fair exhibit, The Butter Princesses.

Queen

No, your eyes do not deceive you, this is the face of a a high school senior, carved into 90 lbs of butter.  The exhibit is called Princess Kay of the Milky Way.  Each girl is the daughter of a dairy farmer.  The exhibit consists of a refrigerated, revolving glass case containing one block of butter for each day of the fair.  During the day, spectators can witness the carving of a Butter Princess.  It is truly bizarre.  My favorite part of this exhibit are the plain blocks of butter designated to be carved later on in the week.

.Block_of_butterhead Img_2717

Each block of butter represents a lovely lady, aching to be released from her creamy prison. 

Img_2719And best of all?

The princess gets to take her sculpture home.

How awesome would that monstrosity look taking up the bottom half of the refrigerator?

Butterhead_1

So that’s it people!  The Great Minnesota Get Together.  I hope you enjoyed your tour.  If you ever have the opportunity to attend, do not miss your opportunity to see the fair.  It is pretty much the greatest place on earth. 

I will leave you with a portrait of the prize winning baked goods.

Winning_baked_goods

God Bless the great state of Minnesota.

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Minnesota State Fair: Part 2

French_fries_booth Eggs_and_meatballs_booth

The Food

Please don’t judge me too harshly for what you are about to read.  I ate a lot at the state fair this year, but most of this food was shared, and very few things were finished.  I was at the fair for about six hours.  Six glorious hours.

First, a few tips on dining at the fair:

The food at the fair is plentiful, fattening, and most often found on a stick.  The best thing you can do for yourself is arrive at the fair hungry.  Show up hungry, but pace yourself.  Don’t get crazy at the beginning.  You have a long day of eating ahead and you don’t want to ruin the fair experience with an early morning bellyache.  Be cool.  Drink plenty of fluids.  I find that Diet Coke suits most of my fair beverage needs.  When you think you are full, don’t give up!  If you have been eating sweet, try switching to salty.  Thirty years of the Minnesota State Fair have taught me that the perfect time for cheese curds is when you think you might die if you eat another mini donut. 

I started my fair day with a delicious Pronto Pup.  A Pronto Pup is a corn dog.  It is also the undisputed favorite fair food of Minnesotans.  Some Minnesotans get all huffy about the difference between a regular corn dog and a Pronto Pup.  Me, I believe that if it looks like a corn dog, and tastes like a corn dog, well, it’s a corn dog.  That being said, I went out of my way to start the day with a Pronto Pup.  It was good.

Pronto_pup_booth_1 Pronto_pup_1 

I don’t want any lip from the mustard police about the ketchup on my Pronto Pup.  Ketchup is delicious.  I don’t understand why you people (Chicago, I’m looking at you) take it personally when I enjoy my hot dog with ketchup.  Can’t we all just get along? 

I was still a bit hungry after The Pup.  Show up hungry, remember?   I decided to take a chance on The Pickle Dog stand. 

Pickle_dog_booth Pickle_dog

Diet_coke_1_1Hooray for the Pickle Dog! 

Cream cheese + pastrami + pickle = pure scrumpsh. 

A Pickle Dog calls for a frosty Diet Coke. 

I had never had a Pickle Dog before as I tend to stick to the basics (food wise) at the fair.  A few years ago Sam and I bought some alligator bites (tastes like chicken), and it was then that I learned that I don’t really care about the exotic fair foods.  Every year all of Minnesota gets riled up about some new fair food or another-  a few years ago it was the deep fried Twinkie.  This year, I am horrified to report, all of Minnesota is talking about Hot Dish on a Stick.  (Hot dish is Minnesotan for casserole.)

Hot_dish_on_a_stick_booth

For the sake of the blog I had intended to try the Hot Dish on a Stick, but I blanched upon seeing the retched thing.  It looks like a corn dog, but it contains potatoes and ground beef and whatever else is in "hot dish".  After hovering around the booth nervously for a few minutes I realized that Hot Dish on a Stick is served with a side of cream of mushroom soup for dipping.  I ran like hell.

Here, a mother attempts to force feed Hot Dish on a Stick to her innocent, infant son:

Baby_hot_dish

Hot Dish on a Stick reminds me of another mind boggling Minnesota State Fair vender, the all you can drink milk booth.

All_the_milk_you_can_drink

WTF!  Nobody over the age of four months should be gorging themselves on milk.  EEW!  eww eww eww eww eww eww eww eww eww EEEEEEEEEEEW.  All you can drink milk!  The mere mention gives me the shivers.  Hot Dish on a Stick, followed by all the milk you can drink.  EEEEEWWW!

Quickly, on to something else…..

Mini_doughnut_1_1My very favorite fair food is the Tom Thumb mini donuts.  Mini Donuts are theatrical and delicious.  I have always loved watching the mini dog nut machines.  Because it’s Minnesota, and Minnesotans are nicer than normal folks, the mini donut guy took the glass casing off the machine so I could take some good pictures.  Thanks, Tom Thumb donut guy!

Once the little donuts make their way out of the river of grease they are liberally sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.  For $3.50, I received a bag of 16 warm, bite sized donuts.

It is my dream to one day own a Tom Thumb mini donut machine.

Mini_ramp Img_2664

I can’t believe how much more food I have to tell you about.  An absurd, embarrassing, horrifying, fantastical amount of food left to go!

Chocolate_marshmallow Chocolate covered marshmallow.  Eh.  It was okay.  Good thing it was only 50 cents.

Cheese_curdsAt this point I had been at the fair for about four hours and I was seriously slowing down.  Time for fried cheese curds!

Fried cheese curds are pretty much exactly what they sound like- delicious.  Mozzarella cheese, battered and deep fried.  Curds are a Minnesota State Fair staple and they are must be eaten annually, if only for the sake of tradition.

Finally, in one Herculean burst of fair enthusiasm, Mary and I decided we needed some garlic fries to finish off the day of eating.  Garlic fries are so wrong. 

So wrong, in such a very very right way. 

I blame the garlic fries for the fact that no matter how many showers I took over the following days, I could not feel clean. 

Damn you, garlic fries.

Garlic_fries_1

Whoa.  That is a lot of food at the state fair.  I did it for you, internet.  I wanted you to see.  All in all, this was a banner year for eating at the fair. 

Hog_on_a_log Lefse

Stay tuned for Part 3: Fair Oddities.  (Butter heads)

Minnesota State Fair: Part 1

When I die and go to heaven (presuming God forgives me for this), I just might find myself at the Minnesota State Fair.  I effing LOVE the fair.  Thanks to my awesome work schedule, I usually find myself in Minneapolis in late August, perfect timing to hit The Great Minnesota Get Together.  Yesterday, along with Lois, Mary, and Kathleen, I hit the fair- and I hit it haaaaaard.

There is a lot to tell you about the fair.  I intended to do one gigantic post, but I realized I can’t cram the entire fair all into one blog entry.  Today, we will be highlighting the farm animals.  (The real star of the fair is the food, but I still have a stomach ache.  I am not ready to relive the eating experience yet.  Maybe tomorrow.)

The Animals

There are thousands of farm animals at The Fair.  To me, (a city girl) all cows look the same, but apparently this is not true.  Some cows are extra fabulous.  The fabulous cows receive ribbons.  Here is the very best dairy cow in Minnesota:

Milk

Coming soon to a Fuddrucker’s near you:

Beef

This poor dude is the Best Beef cow in Minnesota.  Rough break, buddy.

I find sheep very funny.  Sheep are cute and amazingly stupid.  For reasons I do not understand, the sheep wear little jackets at The Fair.  In their outfits, the sheep look like fuzzy little Klansmen.  I don’t think that sheep are racists, but I think it’s best to keep a close eye on them…….just in case.

Sheepoutfit_1 Sheepoutfit_2 Sheepoutfit_3

Best Pig in Show:

Pork

The most popular animal exhibit is The Miracle of Birth Center.

Miracle_of_birth

The Miracle of Birth Center contains all manner of horrors.  The basic premise is that they fill a barn with preggers animals in the hopes that they will give birth during business hours.  Eww.  Seriously, eww.  On the other hand, this is the barn where they keep the baby animals, aka The Cutest Ones.  I have always felt wary of the Miracle of Birth barn.  I like the babies, but I am horrified by the "miracle"of birth.  All joking aside, I think it is a little strange that in order for a child to see a baby chick he also has to watch a calf fight his way out into the world.  It is just very intense. 

Chicks

At first it is cute inside- real cute.  I wanted to slip a couple of these fuzzy chicks into my pocket.

Lamb

Awwwwww.  Lambs! 

Aaaaw.

 

Piglet

Heh.  Hi, little piglet. 

Having a snooze? 

You’re cute.

Crowd

These people are watching a calf be born.  It would easy to avoid the carnage except for the television screens.  Just is case you can’t get close enough to the action, there are big screen teevees everywhere.  The Minnesota State Fair really wanted me to experience the miracle of birth.  I’m not going to lie, I felt violated.  Violated and confused. 

If you or a loved one have been violated by a state fair, please call 1-800-MIRACLE to speak to a counselor. 

Now that your appetite is ruined, stay tuned for Part 2 of The Fair: The Food.

1982

Boy_class_pic

Thanks for the awesome haircut, mom.

Seriously.  Thanks a bunch. 

1985

For the last twenty one years, my mother has proudly displayed this picture of me on her mantle.

Suzuki_camp

Let’s discuss it, shall we?

My mother claims this was my "concentrating" expression, which concerns me quite a little bit.  This photo is the "Perfect Storm" of embarrasing photos, and yet amidst all of the poor fashion choices, it is only my expression that still causes me to cringe.  As an adult, I am from time to time required to concentrate.  The lingering suspicion that this expression still exists in my repertoire is……worrisome.

Please note I am wearing a t-shirt with Mary Lou Retton’s signature across the stomach.  I just loved Mary Lou.  If my parents had allowed it, I probably would have worn the classic Mary Lou Retton, American flag leotard every day of 1984.  It’s a good thing I didn’t wear the leotard as I’m not sure it would have gone very well with my very favorite painters cap.  I particularly like how it is perched atop my head.  Notice the wide, perfectly flat bill. 

The glasses.  Those of you who know me know that I do not wear corrective lenses of any sort.  You know this because I am very proud of my Super Vision, and will brag about my unnaturally fine eyesight to anyone who will listen.  I wasn’t always so happy about my eyesight though.  Oh no.  In 1985 I decided that all of the cool and intelligent young ladies wore large, pale pink, plastic glasses.  In order to attain said glasses I had to convince my parents and an optometrist that I couldn’t see.  I began a month long campaign of squinting and whining about being unable to see the blackboard at school.  I’m sure the eye doctor was totally onto my scam, but bless his heart, he furnished me with this lovely pair of glasses.  When I was ten, I wanted to wear glasses.  By the time I was eleven, I had grown tired of the bespectacled look, and I callously abandoned my once beloved accessory.  Fortunately, the glasses phase was forever memorialized by this classic photo from Suzuki Camp, 1985.

I think the fact that I had to fake poor eyesight in order to wear those glasses is really all you need to know about ten-year-old Kate, or even thirty-one-year-old Kate.  I’m pretty sure the impulse that lead me to wear those glasses is still lurking around inside of me, threatening to humiliate my future children. 

Hee.

Links

I just noticed that a lot of the links in my sidebar were broken.  I think I’ve fixed the problem, so all y’all should have a look at some of the fun new blogs.

The Doctor, will see you now.  The Swedes might not have trisquits, but they have a sweet blog.  Lucy will soon be running away from her new brother.  The secret is in the mail.

Amateur Night

Yesterday night I arrived in Minneapolis, the motherland. 

Tonight, I followed Aaron’s lead, and we ended up in a tiki bar.    It was a move we would soon regret- it turns out we are too old to drink sweet rum drinks out of pineapples.  There was a period of about a half hour when our entire party was unexpectedly drunk and slap happy, but it was downhill from there.  The hangover resulting from "The One Eyed Willy" (my potent poison) set in about five seconds after the drink was gone.   Sadly, by eleven-thirty we were all feeling weathered by the tiki bar experience and we were forced to surrender to bedtime. 

Don’t get me wrong, the night was not a waste.  There was lots of howling laughter.  We may have been drinking like amateurs, but we are seasoned professionals when is comes to having fun. 

Img_2498 Img_2507 Img_2501_1

Img_2495_2Here is a close up of the swizzle stick that came in my drink.  Tacky, but cute.

Img_2497

Tiki bar, you win.  I’m out like trout.