Saturday, August 30, 2008

Minnesota State Fair - St. Paul, MN

Apparently, I’m the only person in the US who has never been to a state fair. So I wasn’t sure what to expect. I figured it would be a large county fair – I was right. But it was honestly huge on a level I can’t comprehend. We basically went to eat and people watch. I didn’t think it was legal (or fair) to show photos of some of the freak shows that were walking around there, but it’s super tempting. So we’ll focus on the food.

This is what we’ll call at State Fair Baby. This is what happens when you eat for 4 hours straight – seriously 4 hours straight. I will raise him and love him and call him George.

We started the day off with some macaroni and cheese on a stick (the stick is crucial to good fair food) from Axel’s. They were pretty good. I don’t know that I would fight anyone for them, but they were good. Can’t complain.CIMG3578

Then we found some bison on a stick, which sounded appealing. It was kind of a shish-ka-bob sort of thing. The meat was really juicy and flavorful and ended up being an awesome snack. I’m guessing the American Indians thought, “Hey! Why didn’t WE think of leaving the spear right in the bison while we were eating it??? It tastes so much better on a stick!!!”CIMG3580

We kept seeing signs for breakfast foods. Since it was before noon, we thought what the heck. And why would you want something plain when you can have fair food. We ended up with a breadbowl breakfast with Cajun potatoes, eggs, and sausage jumbalaya on top. This was REALLY good. I don’t get to eat a Cajun breakfast very often, so it really hit the spot.CIMG3579

We then saw the Sham-Wow booth which our friend Coach is enamored with. It is basically a super absorbent towel. You can throw it in the ocean and destroy the world’s ecosystem in one move. Still not impressive, but the people that do these real-life infomercials always have waaaay too much energy.CIMG3585

We checked out the dog and pet center. I won myself a shirt by spinning a wheel. We saw some dogs whose main job is sit behind gates and get petted by like 500,000 people. Rough life.

Next, we had a hankering for some Elk, so we found an elk burger at Giggly’s and split it. Great burger, but I don’t know that the elk tasted that different from a bison burger, honestly. It was a great burger, though, so I won’t complain about it. Giggly’s has a personal condiment girl who will put toppings on your sammich. That’s class.CIMG3586

We’re getting thirsty at this point, so we hit up one of the best root beer stands in the country. 1919 is quality barrel root beer. I’m hard pressed to think any root beer is better than Sprecher, but if 1919 is not better than Sprecher, it’s neck and neck. Seriously, this root beer is awesome. I will fight you if you say different.CIMG3588

Then dessert sounded good, and since you can get everything in the world deep fried at a fair, we ended up with the deep fried cheesecake. It wasn’t what I expected, in fact, it looked like an eggroll of some sort. But I guess they have to have a way of keeping the cheesecake from running free. It must have been good because I didn’t get a single bite of it. Hmmm. How does that work?CIMG3590

Then we needed additional desserts, so that led us to Sweet Martha’s Cookie Jar. We have heard people talking about this place for months, so it was part of the master plan before we even got to the fair. These cookies are served warm, which makes them better. I didn’t see a stick option on these cookies, so I can only assume people’s heads exploded at previous fairs due to the stick adding too much awesomeness. You can buy these in a bucket, but then you have to carry the bucket around with you all day. If you go to the fair, you should probably make a point to get some of these. They’re just chocolate chip cookies, but they’re warm and gooey, so take ‘em or leave ‘em. CIMG3593

Let’s see. What culinary adventure haven’t we partaken in yet?.... hmmm. Something salty, yet sweet. What solves both of those needs? Chocolate covered bacon from Famous Dave’s booth. Yes, I’m serious. They’re called Pig Lickers. I’ll be honest with you, I almost opted out of this abomination, but I’m not one to pass up bacon EVER, so I caved. And you know what? It wasn’t bad actually. I’d recommend trying at least one piece at some point. You’ll be weirded out, but you won’t be disappointed.CIMG3596

Then we went and watched part of the cattle show. Yup, a real live cattle show with judges and hot cowgirls and grizzled farmers. I’ve never experienced this subculture, but apparently, this is what cattle, horse, sheep, pig, and goat farmers live for each year. So you owe it to yourself to see what the fair probably was originally based around. We stayed for a short while, and got a chuckle out of the winners getting their photos taken like it was prom. Awesome.CIMG3602

We then went to the birth center or baby farm animal barn. IT was pretty interesting. They artificially inseminate the animals so they can have a pretty good idea of when they’re going to give birth. Then they bring them into this barn around fair time and kids can be absolutely horrified at the miracle of birth. Seriously you have no idea, unless you’ve seen it before. Great and gross learning experience. We didn’t see any birthing, but we saw random things coming out of various animals, and we heard kids (and grown-ups) “ewwwww”-ing a couple of times.CIMG3604

But wait, it’s not over yet! We’re still hungry. Don’t ask me how. We needed more items on a stick! So it was off to get a pork chop on a stick. We’ve heard other fairs do not actually have a stick, but rather a bone. This, as explained earlier, detracts from the flavor. But Go Minnesota for having sticks! The pork chop on a stick was super good. They had seasoning salt for you to put on it, but it clearly did not need anything else. It was perfect.CIMG3609

To put a cap on a day at the fair, we needed to find (an additional) dessert. So we found some Minnesota gelato (which pales sadly in comparison to its European brother). It was a great finisher to an awesome day at the 2008 Minnesota State Fair.CIMG3611

So, 4 hours and a hundred bucks later (yes, really), we headed home for nap time.CIMG3598

Top 5 things about the fair
1. Anything fried
2. There are MANY root beer stands
3. It’s huge – people go multiple days
4. If it’s hot, the outfits get skimpier
5. Honestly, the food isn’t THAT expensive.

Top 5 worst things about the fair
1. It’s FULL of white trash people
2. IF you don’t go in the morning, the place is packed to the gills
3. There’s not enough shade for our pasty skin
4. If you’re on a diet, or watching cholesterol or fat, then slash your wrists at the gate
5. I don’t have 7 stomachs like a cow…

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