Friday, September 8

The Fair State's State Fair

One of the things we did while in Minnesota was visit the state fair. I'd never been to a state fair before, so I didn't know for sure what to expect. I'd visited the county fair many times, and it turns out the state fair is pretty much like the county fair, just a whole lot bigger, and with paved streets between the exhibits.

We went on opening day, which also happened to be a rainy day, so the first stop was at the Northen Tools and Equipment building to buy rain ponchos for $2.oo each. One-time-use rain ponchos, they were - and even that is stretching it - but it's a good thing we had them or we'd have been soaked several times.

The highlights? Well, the free stuff, like pencils, pens, rulers, posters, bags, etc., is always fun, right? The fair is famous for the food, too. You'll find almost any sort of food there: if you have a hankering for it, someone's selling it. Since it's Minnesota, there's a lot of Scandinavian country church dinner food, like turkey dinner with homemade buns and coleslaw, or egg salad sandwiches on homemade buns. What you may not know is that the mining areas of Minnesota had immigrants from all across Europe, so you'll find traditional foods from almost any European group sold at the fair. The cousins were looking forward to the pasties and apple strudel they remembered from previous visits to the fair, and just after my sister-in-law and I discussed the wonderful egg coffee we remembered from church dinners, we came across a Lutheran church booth advertising Swedish Egg Coffee.

The egg coffee was just as I remembered it: pure, delicate, yet full-flavored. Growing up on egg coffee is the reason I don't like Starbucks. Really good coffee doesn't need any extra flavoring, because it's perfect all by itself; and Starbucks coffee, all by itself, is undrinkable.

The most exciting event of the fair, however, wasn't an exhibit, or food, or a giveaway item. Nope, it was the tornado warning that went into effect just as we were leaving. We were directed to wait out the storm with hundreds of other people inside a pole barn where one of the exhibits involved watching real veterinary surgery, which, thankfully, was over for the day. So, as a sheriff's deputy stood at the door to keep anyone from leaving, we stood watching the storm and wondering how a pole barn would fare in a tornado. When it was all over, we headed to the parking lot, wading to the car through several inches of water.

Free stuff, good food, and a big storm. A perfect day at the fair, I'd say.