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Flowering Onion, MN State Fair, St. Paul, Minnesota, September 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



It’s Labor Day, final day of the Minnesota State Fair, when the last of 12 Butter Queens will take her place in the Butter Booth at the Dairy Building. The Fair signifies the unofficial end of Summer (officially marked by shadows of the Fall Equinox). We spent 6 hours walking around the Fairgrounds last Friday.

The art in the juried show seemed of a higher caliber this year. We saw some great work in the Art Building, including the commemorative painting from artist Leo Stans displayed front and center.

In the food category, we bought a paring knife at Standing Buffalo Knives and a Grill It! in the Merchandise Building. As strange as the Grill It! looks (an engineer must have designed it), we made the best bacon ever for breakfast yesterday morning. But we weren’t as adventurous as usual when consuming Minnesota State Fair foods on-a-stick.

Liz and I are eating 8 leftover Tom Thumb Donuts as I type and trying to recall what else we had to eat last Friday. We split a Flowering Onion four ways with our friends, a bucket of fries with vinegar and ketchup, a Papa Pronto Pup from one of the original 1947 stands, two large cups of fresh squeezed lemonade (refills half price), and a few morsels of chicken from the Grill It! demonstrator.

We brought home Saint Agnes Baking Company’s blueberry lemon sourdough bread, named after the widowed Grandma Agnes Rod who began baking in the 1940’s. That might be all we consumed in the food department. Well, except for our personal best — Peach Glazed Pig Cheeks from Famous Dave’s.


Peach Glazed Pig Cheeks On-A-Stick, MN State Fair, St. Paul,
Minnesota, September 2009, all photos © 2009 by
QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


These little morsels are pork cheeks marinated in garlic, herbs, spices, and honey served on-a-stick and grilled with peach chipotle glaze. Our friends really liked them. But we found them a little gamey. Though they were extremely tender, they tasted more like dark meat than the white pork I tend to eat. The peach glaze, however, was fantastic.

I did a little research and it seems that the pig cheeks are different than the jowls. I’m no expert, but I read that the pig jowl tends to be the actual fatty part that is almost like pork belly in its striation and normally does not include the pig cheek.

The pig cheeks are mostly from the side of the head, not from under the chin. The upper part is rather thin and mostly skin. The lower part is adjacent to the true jowl, so it is thicker than the upper part and has the same striations as the jowl.

Whether cheeks or jowls, I’m not much for consuming dicey parts of a pig. But I’m glad we tried them. My favorite times were when we stopped to chat with people like Stan Stokesbary of Standing Buffalo Knives who handcrafts knives out of old buzz saw blades. Or Ronald Kelsey who has part of his collection of 500 vintage seed bags displayed in the Horticulture Building.

How many pounds of seed are in a bushel? You’ll see the number on the bottom corner of each and every sack.

-posted on red Ravine, Happy Labor Day, Monday, September 7th, 2009

-related to posts: MN State Fair On-A-Stick (Happy B’Day MN!), MN State Fair On-A-Stick II – Video & Stats, On-The-Go List Of Must-Haves (MN State Fair), Nightshot – Carousel, Mary In Minnesota, food on-a-stick haiku

-More photos from this year’s Fair in QuoinMonkey’s Minnesota State Fair Series

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Tom Thumb Donut Machine, MN State Fair, St. Paul, Minnesota, August 2008, all photos © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
 

No one leaves the Minnesota State Fair without a bag of Tom Thumb Donuts. I’ve gone a whole day, been dead on my feet, and made the trek back to the Tom Thumb stand to grab a 500 calorie bag of melt-in-your-mouth mini-donuts to eat on the long walk to the car.

I’m also mesmerized by the mini-donut making machine. It was invented in 1947 at the Ryan Aeronautical Company in California by a group of engineers who were sitting idle after the war. That year, they started greasing the wheel and each machine splashes out 90 deep-fried donuts per minute.

Tom Thumb Donuts was established a few years later in 1949. Do you know how Tom Thumb Donuts made it to the Minnesota State Fair?

 
According to a Chippewa Herald article by writer Tom Arneberg, John Desmond and his wife Janet brought Tom Thumb Donuts to the Minnesota State Fair in 1952. Then two boys in Desmond’s Minneapolis neighborhood, Ted Boecher and John Hanson, grew up working at the stand and took it over after John Desmond’s death.

Sadly, a few years later, Hanson died of a heart attack right in the main Tom Thumb booth next to Ye Olde Mill, leaving Ted Boecher to manage the stand.

 
Through 6 degrees of separation (and the framing of a Tom Thumb Donut bag kept in his kitchen), Tom Arneberg met manager Ted Boecher and he and his family were given a personal guided tour through the whole mini-donut making operation. Arneberg, a community columnist for the Chippewa Herald, wrote a piece in which he describes the whole experience, including his love for the Minnesota State Fair.

I found Arneberg’s column when researching the history of Tom Thumb Donuts to go with these photographs. You’ve got to read it to find out his personal best for bags of Tom Thumb Donuts eaten in one trip to the Minnesota State Fair!

What’s your personal best for your favorite State Fair food?

To jog your memory, this year’s whole list of Minnesota State Fair foods on-a-stick and a link to the FoodFinder (along with past State Fair posts) can be found at our annual red Ravine State Fair post MN State Fair On-A-Stick (Princesses & Butter Queens). We’ll be at the Fair this Friday. Maybe we’ll see you there!

 

     

Don’t Bite The Hand That Feeds You, Tom Thumb –
Light As A Feather
, MN State Fair, St. Paul,
Minnesota, August 2008, all photos © 2008-2009
by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
-posted on red Ravine, Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

-related to post: WRITING TOPIC – BAND-AIDS® & OTHER 1920’s INVENTIONS, the velveeta cheese of donuts haiku, Two Degrees Of Celebrity Sighting

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Princess Kay Of The Milky Way, MN State Fair, St. Paul, Minnesota, August 2008, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Princess Kay Of The Milky Way, MN State Fair, St. Paul, Minnesota, August 2008, all photos © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
 

The Minnesota State Fair kicks off this week and it’s time for our annual State Fair post on red Ravine. We’ve covered a lot of history in the past, so this year I’m focusing on one of my favorite attractions at the Minnesota State Fair — the Princess Kay butter sculptures (I fondly call them the Butter Queens). Would you believe it takes 21.8 pounds of whole milk to make a pound of butter? And 90 pounds of butter to create one princess.

 
 

Traditions Of Butter Sculpting

 
Butter sculpting is a long-time tradition at many State Fairs. The first recorded North American sculpture was created by Carolyn Brooks for the 1876 U.S. Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia. In 1910, the first Buttercow was created by a sculptor only recorded as Mr. Daniels at the Iowa State Fair. Though the Midwest Dairy Association and its 5000 dairy farmers sponsor butter sculpting at State Fairs in 9 states (including North Dakota), sculpting in front of Fair-goers using a live model is unique to Minnesota (click for slideshow of past butter sculptures from Iowa and Minnesota).

This year marks artist Linda Christensen’s 38th year creating butter sculptures at the Minnesota State Fair. Carving busts from butter is no easy task. The dizzying temperature inside the rotating booth is a cool 40°F (notice the sitting Princess is wearing mittens?). Linda spends 6 to 8 hours on her feet to complete one sculpture. She builds her body of work on a long tradition of American frontier women from the 1800’s who molded and imprinted their homemade butter.

Butter sculptures were first featured at the Minnesota State Fair from 1898 through 1927 to highlight Minnesota’s claim as the “Butter Capital of the Nation.” In 1965, the American Dairy Association of Minnesota began its tradition of having the likeness of the dairy princess sculpted in butter and constructed a booth which was expanded in 2008 for better viewing.

While researching this piece, I also discovered that butter sculpting is a Tibetan tradition that goes back 400 years. Butter sculpture originated from Tibet and was introduced to the Tar Monastery, also known as Kumbum Monastery, in the early 17th century. Originally made with pure yak and goat milk butter as the raw material, the sculptures were hand formed and painted with mineral dyes.

They were created as symbols and secret offerings for the Tibetan New Year and other religious celebrations, and sometimes depicted stories about the life of Śākyamuni (Siddhārtha Gautama), the founder of Buddhism. Today monks create traditional butter sculptures with staples of the Tibetan diet: barley flour, butter (mixed with a little wax) and water.

 
 

Dairy Princess Alysha Thompson, Sculptor Linda Christensen At Work, MN State Fair, St. Paul, Minnesota, August 2008, all photos © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
 

Princess Kay of the Milky Way Butter Sculptures

 
The Princess Kay of the Milky Way coronation ceremony at the State Fair band shell on August 26th at 8:30 p.m. kicks off this year’s Minnesota State Fair. Reigning Princess Kay Kristy Mussman will pass the crown (don’t you think the winning Princess should be crowned a Queen?).

On opening day, August 27th, the newly crowned Princess Kay will spend up to 8 hours in the rotating butter sculpture booth in the Dairy Building having her likeness carved out of a 90-pound block of butter provided by Associated Milk Producers of New Ulm. The 11 other finalists will have their likenesses sculpted in butter throughout the remaining days of the fair.

Princess Kay candidates, and Minnesota’s county dairy princesses, are daughters of dairy farmers, employees of dairy farms, or daughters of dairy farm employees. Each year, over 100 young women from across Minnesota are crowned county dairy princesses, and 12 are selected as finalists to become Princess Kay. Princess Kay acts as goodwill ambassador for the dairy industry and the state’s dairy farmers, but all dairy princesses across the state serve in that capacity in their local areas.

For the first time, Princess Kay will be blogging from the Butter Booth this year! And you can also follow her on Facebook by becoming fans of her new Facebook page (and Midwest Dairy Association) at a kiosk in the Dairy Building, just across from the butter-sculpting booth.

 
 
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Frozen Pickle On-A-Stick (Leprechaun Legs in the background!), Wild Rice Corndog On-A-Stick, MN State Fair, St. Paul, Minnesota, August 2008, all photos © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
 

MN State Fair – Foods On-A-Stick

 
Our Minnesota State Fair post wouldn’t be complete without the annual foods on-a-stick list. Here’s the luscious lineup for 2009 along with a few photos from foods we tried last year. If you are looking for the location of specific foods at the Fair, here’s a link to their FoodFinder with a map of the Fair. (Oh, and check out ybonesy’s post on Chinese food on-a-stick.)

The Minnesota State Fair begins this Thursday, August 27th and runs through September 7th. Be sure to stop and enjoy the crop art and the work of Minnesota State Fair commemorative artist Leo Stans. You’ve got one more day to purchase your Blue Ribbon Bargain Book and save a little cash. Enjoy!

  1. Alligator Sausage on-a-stick
  2. Bacon (Fried) on-a-stick
  3. Bananas (chocolate covered) on-a-stick
  4. Beef Kabobs on-a-stick
  5. Beer Battered Brats on-a-stick
  6. Bomb Pops on-a-stick
  7. Butterscotch Cake on-a-stick
  8. Candy Apples on-a-stick
  9. Candy Bars (deep fried) on-a-stick
  10. Caramel Apples on-a-stick
  11. Catfish on-a-stick
  12. Cheese on-a-stick
  13. Cheese (fried) on-a-stick
  14. Cheesecake (chocolate covered) on-a-stick
  15. Chicken on-a-stick
  16. Chicken Bites on-a-stick
  17. Coffee (frozen) on-a-stick
  18. Corndogs on-a-stick
  19. Corned Beef and Cabbage on-a-stick
  20. Cotton Candy on-a-stick
  21. Dessert Pizza on-a-stick
  22. Dixie Wings on-a-stick
  23. Espresso (frozen) on-a-stick
  24. Fiddlestix (chocolate-dipped ice cream) on-a-stick
  25. Fruit (fresh) on-a-stick
  26. Fruit (fried) on-a-stick
  27. Fry Dog on-a-stick
  28. Fudge Puppies on-a-stick
  29. Hot Dago on-a-stick
  30. Hot Dish on-a-stick
  31. Hot Dogs (wrap) on-a-stick
  32. Key Lime Pie Dipped in Chocolate (frozen) on-a-stick
  33. Lamb (leg of) on-a-stick
  34. Macaroni & Cheese on-a-stick
  35. Marshmallows (Chocolate-dipped) on-a-stick
  36. Meatballs (porcupine wild rice & ground pork) on-a-stick
  37. Meatballs (Scotch) on-a-stick
  38. Meat Kabobs on-a-stick
  39. Nut Roll (chocolate-dipped) on-a-stick
  40. Pickles on-a-stick
  41. Pickles (deep fried) on-a-stick
  42. Pizza on-a-stick
  43. Poncho Dogs on-a-stick
  44. Pork Cheeks on-a-stick
  45. Pork Chops on-a-stick
  46. Pronto Pups on-a-stick
  47. Rueben on-a-stick
  48. Sausage on-a-stick
  49. Scotch Eggs on-a-stick
  50. Shrimp on-a-stick
  51. Shrimp (grilled) on-a-stick
  52. S’mores on-a-stick
  53. S’mores (deep-fried) on-a-stick
  54. Spaghetti & Meatballs on-a-stick
  55. Spudsters on-a-stick
  56. Steak on-a-stick
  57. Taffy Pops on-a-stick
  58. Tater Tots (deep-fried) on-a-stick
  59. Texas Steak Dinner on-a-stick
  60. Texas Tater Dog on-a-stick
  61. Tornado Potato on-a-stick
  62. Turkey Tenderloin (bacon-wrapped) on-a-stick
  63. Vegie Fries on-a-stick
  64. Vegetable Kabobs on-a-stick
  65. Waffle (Belgian) on-a-stick
  66. Walleye on-a-stick
  67. Wild Rice Corndog on-a-stick

 
Total Number of Foods-On-A-Stick: 67*

 
 

Catfish Cajun Style, Bull Bites, MN State Fair, St. Paul,
Minnesota, August 2008, photos © 2008-2009 by
QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
 

New Minnesota State Fair Foods In 2009
  (including *4 new foods on-a-stick not on list above)

    Beignets (Sweet, fried dough)
    @Ragin Cajun, located inside The Garden
    Brat Burger (Ground bratwurst in a grilled patty served on a pretzel roll)
    @Ball Park Cafe, located between The Garden and the Food Building
    Breakfast Spam Sandwich (Spam, egg, cheese)
    @Spam Burgers, located on Cosgrove St. across from the Creative Activities Building
    Deep Fried Norwegian Banana Split (Banana rolled in lefse, deep fried, topped off with ice cream and all the toppings)
    @Ole & Lena’s, located on Liggett Street at Carnes Avenue
    Fiddlestix (Premium vanilla ice cream hand sliced, skewered, dipped in chocolate and rolled in chopped nuts)
    @Wells Concessions, located inside the Mighty Midway
    Foot-long Dessert Pizza on-a-stick (Pizza dough, sweet cream cheese, cinnamon and sugar on-a-stick)
    @Green Mill, located in Baldwin Park
    Fry Dog (French fry encrusted deep-fried hot dog on-a-stick)
    @Blue Moon Dine In Theater, located on corner of Carnes Avenue and Chambers Street
    Funnel Cake Fries (Funnel cake formed like French fries, served with chocolate dipping sauce)
    @Apple Lil’s, located just inside Heritage Square
    Krumkake (Thin, crisp pastry made fresh, rolled into a horn shape, filled with whipped cream and topped with fresh fruit)
    @Ole & Lena’s, located on Liggett Street at Carnes Avenue
    • Open-faced Grilled Spam Sandwich
    @Spam Burgers, located on Cosgrove St. across from the Creative Activities Building
    •Peach Glazed Pig Cheeks (Pork cheeks marinated in garlic, herbs, spices and honey, served on-a-stick and grilled with peach chipotle glaze)
    @Famous Dave’s, located on Dan Patch Avenue at Liggett Street
    Pot Roast Sundae (scoop of mashed potatoes covered with roast beef, gravy, corn and a cherry tomato)
    @Main Street Butcher Block, located on the corner of Dan Patch Avenue and Liggett Street
    Sunfish (Sunfish filets served in a boat)
    @Giggle’s Campfire Grill, located on Cooper Street and Lee Avenue
    Swedish Meatballs and Gravy
    @Lynn’s Lefse, located inside the Food Building
    Tornado Potato (spiral cut potato on-a-stick)
    @Sunny’s Spiral Potatoes, located inside the Food Building

 

Spaghetti & Meatball Dinner On-A-Stick, Fried Fruit On-A-Stick, Macaroni & Cheese On-A-Stick, Bull Bites, Deep Fried Tater Tots On-A-Stick, Grilled Shrimp On-A-Stick, Vintage Kids & Fair Food!, Leprechaun Legs, MN State Fair, St. Paul, Minnesota, August 2008, all photos © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
 

State Fair photos on Flickr.

 

-posted on red Ravine, Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

-related to posts: MN State Fair On-A-Stick (Happy B’Day MN!), On-The-Go List Of Must-Haves (MN State Fair)Nightshot – Carousel, MN State Fair On-A-Stick II – Video & Stats, food on-a-stick haiku

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Fried Giant Insects on a Stick, the kinds of amazing foods you can see at the annual Beer Festival in Dalian, China, photo © 2009 by Gail W., all rights reserved

Fried Giant Insects on-a-stick, tarantulas, scorpions on-a-stick, centipedes on-a-stick, and other amazing foods you can see (and eat) at the annual Beer Festival in Dalian, China, photo © 2009 by Gail W. All rights reserved.
 
 
 
The other day I was online late at night Asia-time when one of my best pals from work sent me an Instant Message. A giant, drunken beer festival was taking place outside her apartment, as it had been for several days now. She wasn’t sure if she’d be able to get to sleep, but she wasn’t complaining. It was all part of the fascinating experience of living abroad.

Not to mention, the food at the beer festival!

 

what kind of food?
tarantulas
tarantulas??
tarantulas
no way
way. check your email

 

Sure enough, there in my inbox was a photo of tarantulas that you could eat at the beer festival. And centipedes. (On-a-stick.) And scorpions. (On-a-stick.) And some kind of giant insect’s bulbous butt. (On-a-stick.)

Oh my God, I thought. I’ve got to show these to the Queen of Foods on-a-Stick—my very own blog partner, QuoinMonkey!
 

So here you go, QM. I’m hoping you can pass these on to the Minnesota State Fair and get them queued up for next year’s menu of foods on-a-stick. Because if it doesn’t have at least six legs, four eyes, and a hairy butt, it ain’t gonna pass the exotic test no more.

 

 

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Photo printed with permission of my good friend Gail W., who I don’t believe tried any of the foods on-a-stick at the beer festival. (Chicken.)

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Electric Snow Cone, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Electric Snow Cone, Minnesota State Fair, half way between St. Paul & Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



It’s Labor Day weekend and we’re recovering from our second day at the Minnesota State Fair. For me, the Fair is about photography, food, and history. On Wednesday, we checked out the State Fair and Sesquicentennial history exhibits and enjoyed a Gnarls Barkley concert and fireworks in the Grandstand.

There is a JFK Remembered exhibit this year that we wanted to attend (Kennedy’s death had a big impact on me as a child). We passed the building when we arrived, but the lines were too long (the exhibit is drawing 20,000 people a day). We had planned to circle back, but you know how it goes at the Fair. Navigation routes are turned topsy-turvy; we never made it back.

The exhibit is the personal collection of Nick Ciacelli. He started collecting in the 4th grade on the day Kennedy was assassinated. The exhibit contains rare items such as Kennedy’s jewelry box, a gift from his father in 1946, and a pair of gold Texas star cufflinks he never got to wear. The exhibit was featured on WCCO News a few nights ago — ‘JFK Remembered’ Exhibit Drawing Record Fairgoers.



        Icy Spoons, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Icy Spoons, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Icy Spoons, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



On Friday, we returned to the Fair. We did the weave-and-dodge past weary food vendors, and over-full rides, then ate our way through the Food Building, packed with wall-to-wall people (wait until you hear about the Pickle Pop on-a-stick!). We visited the Education, Creative Activity, Horticulture, and HealthCare buildings and picked up a few freebies at the Merchandise Mart.

There are 3 days left to attend the Minnesota State Fair. It’s a beautiful cloudless Saturday: low humidity, sun, slight breeze, blue skies. There must be thousands of people planning to venture around St. Paul’s blocked off roads (for the Republican National Convention) to make their way down the Midway. I thought it might be helpful to have a check-off list of must-haves (in no particular order) to take with you to the Fair.



Hidden Values Of A Casket, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Hidden Values Of A Casket, vintage Minnesota Casket Company booth at the MN State Fair, half way between St. Paul & Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.




On-The-Go List Of Must-Haves (MN State Fair)


  • State Fair tickets — easy to forget. slide them in your wallet
  • Blue Ribbon Bargain Book — see details under Ways To Save $$$ in the second link on this post
  • Rain jacket — and rain pants if you have them. It drizzled all through Gnarls Barkley and poured as we were leaving. You never know!
  • Portable umbrella — small enough to fit in a backpack. When it comes to umbrellas, remember, you get what you pay for.
  • Shoes with good arches — flat feet or not, your feet and legs will be tired; they need lots of support.
  • Water bottle — unbreakable and full. Fair food is greasy and salty. You are going to be thirsty for water!
  • $$$ — with attachable wallet ring. The Fair makes you spacy. The right accessories help to keep the right things close to your body.
  • Backpack — comfortable with lots of zippered pockets
  • Sweatshirt — hooded, for cooler evenings at the Grandstand
  • Map of the Fairgrounds — with streets, bathrooms, buildings, and information booths labeled. You can pick this up at any Information booth when you enter the Fair. Believe me, you’re going to need it.
  • Tree Sculptures By Name map — kind of like playing the License Plate Game with your kids on the family vacation. (Details in Comment #43 on the second link in this post.)
  • Deals, Drawings, & Giveaways Guide — this is your guide to everything FREE at the Fair. (Details in Comment #43 on the second link in this post.) 
  • Hat — with a brim to shield direct sun from eyes. August in Minnesota is bright!
  • Sunglasses – any kind, cheap or designer. I saw two kids wearing blue LCD light-up sunglasses at night on the Midway. It’s a strange adaptation, but it works!
  • Suntan lotion – does Rudolph ring a bell?
  • List of 63 foods on-a-stick — and their locations on the Fairgrounds. I marked the ones I wanted to try on the map in highlighter. Well, okay, that’s just me. (More info and a list of all 63 foods in the second link on this post.)
  • List of streets blocked off in St. Paul — for the Republican National Convention. It hasn’t officially started, but already there have been street closings and police raids in St. Paul. Is it the Boy Scout motto that says, “Be Prepared?”
  • Plan for your parking spot — it’s mobbed, friends. You’ll pay $9 for the lots. Make an alternative plan to save money. Have any friends living near the Fairgrounds?
  • Cameras and video cam — don’t forget charged batteries, portable tripod
  • Tickets to Gnarls Barkley & Cloud Cult — these were the tickets we had to remember. Varies with the evening. BTW, Cloud Cult is one of Liz’s favorite bands. They combine art and music beautifully in their concerts. Two painters work on canvas during the concert; then they auction the paintings off at the end. See them if you ever get a chance!
  • Trash bags — large brown plastic ones to cover gear and body if it rains
  • Aluminum foil and baggies — for extra foods on-a-stick that you’re too full to eat or want to cart home. We used quite a few of these!
  • List of Must-Do Pointsdo the things important to you first, before you get worn out. For us it was: History Building, Farmers Union, Public Radio, WCCO, Art Building, Crop Art, chickens, Dairy Barn, Butter Queen sculptures, photographs of carousel, Ferris wheel, roller coaster.
  • List of places where there are seats and shade — you’re going to want to get off your feet and out of the sun once in a while! I had a mini-meltdown last night when my ice cream was melting down my hand, a blister was forming on my right foot, and my camera battery died all at the same time. A 15 minute rest on a nearby bench did the trick.
  • ChapStick — for the dry lips that happen from sun, wind, and all that screaming!
  • Napkins, paper towels, & Wet Ones — need I say more? Yeah, grease, and everything else touchy-feely-sticky imaginable.
  • Flashlight — portable LED that hangs around the neck (with fresh batteries)
  • Pressure point wrist bands — for vertigo from the rides. Liz bought these for her plane trip to Georgia this year (I ended up using them on our car rides). Yesterday, I wore them to the Fair. They really do work!
  • Gratitude — to the 3000+ workers who labor at the Fair to make it all possible. (After all, it is Labor Day weekend!)

 

If you don’t live close enough to make it to the Minnesota State Fair, you can live vicariously by visiting the pieces sprinkled throughout this post. They contain all the links and trivia you’ll ever need to know about the Minnesota State Fair (with the exception of their official website).

Or better yet, plan on attending a local Fair this Fall in the part of the planet you call home and write an essay about your own experiences. It’s good to support the local economy (think global, buy local), and have tons of family fun in the process. Oh, and if you think of anything I should add to the list, feel free to leave it in the comments. I just thought of one other thing I neglected to mention — TUMS!



State Fair Chautauqua (150 Years Of Statehood), Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

State Fair Chautauqua (150 Years Of Statehood), celebrating all people and cultures of Minnesota, Minnesota State Fair, half way between St. Paul & Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, August 30th, 2008

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Minnesota State Fair -- Happy Birthday, Minnesota!, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Minnesota State Fair – Happy Birthday, Minnesota!, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2008, all photos © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



Let’s Talk History

Summer is winding down; it’s time for the Minnesota State Fair! After 4 years of territorial fairs, the first Minnesota State Fair was held in 1859 near downtown Minneapolis, one year after Minnesota was granted statehood (2008 is the Minnesota Sesquicentennial). The Minnesota State Fair found a permanent home midway between Minneapolis and St. Paul when Ramsey County donated its 210-acre poor farm to the governing body of the State Fair, the State Agricultural Society.

The Fairgrounds now cover 320 acres and contain a number of architecturally and historically significant structures. And this year, there are Sesquicentennial Celebration events taking place under the Big Top at the Great Minnesota Get-Together, including a 150th birthday cake and Minnesota Memories, conversations with some of Minnesota’s most colorful residents.

Many famous people have walked through these gates. It’s hard to believe it’s been 80 years since F. Scott Fitzgerald reminisced about the Minnesota State Fair in his book, A Night at the Fair. Since 1859, rain or shine, the Minnesota State Fair has been held every year except five:


  • 1861 — the Civil War
  • 1862 — the Dakota Indian Conflict
  • 1893 — scheduling conflicts with the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago
  • 1945 — war-time fuel shortages
  • 1946 — polio epidemic


Grandstand Show, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Grandstand Show, Minneapolis, Minnesota,
August 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey.
All rights reserved.


Classic rides grace the Mighty Midway; a couple of new ones, too, like the Heartbreaker and the Wind Surf.  I’m not much of ride person (I get too seasick!). I attend the State Fair for the tradition, the food, and the music (Alabama has performed 18 times in 13 years). This year, Liz and I have tickets to see Gnarls Barkley at the Grandstand. We plan to make a day of it. And if you’re into history, the Minnesota State Fair is full of odd and choice moments in time:

  • 1887, 1888, 1889, 1898 – Battle Reenactments of Minnesota at Gettysburg
  • 1906 – St. Paul Growers Association built a model of the new State Capitol out of onions
  • 1915 – a Baby Contest pitted city babies vs. country babies, Minneapolis babies vs. St. Paul babies
  • 1927 – John Phillip Sousa was the Fair’s first big name entertainer. He performed in the Plaza Park outside the Grandstand.
  • 1938 – the last year the Fair started on the Saturday before Labor Day
  • 1949 – the last year of horse races
  • 2002 – the last year of Grandstand auto racing


Close Up Nightshot - Carousel, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Close Up Nightshot – Carousel, Minneapolis,
Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2008 by
QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


I’m particularly fond of the carousel, and the tradition of outdoor sculptures at the Fair. Over the years, there have been many: the 36-foot-tall Pioneer Woman made of gold fiberglass erected in 1958 to commemorate the State’s Centennial (she’s 50 years old this year); the 1959 statue of Neptune (a tribute to the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway); and my personal favorite, Fairchild the Gopher, a 24-foot fiberglass statue dressed as a Midway barker, complete with striped jacket and straw skimmer.


Stella Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Stella Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota,
August 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey.
All rights reserved.


In 1966, Fairchild the gopher became the official mascot of the State Fair and was joined by his nephew, Fairborne, in 1983. Fairchild (a play on the institution’s title) got his name after a state-wide naming contest. It is also a tribute to Henry S. Fairchild, the man who suggested the Ramsey County Poor Farm become the permanent site of the State Fair (more Fair photographs in my Flickr set Minnesota State Fair.)

You can learn more by visiting The State Fair History Museum in Heritage Square. The museum, open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., showcases memorabilia and artifacts from the Fair’s past and admission is free. Or, for little known Minnesota State Fair trivia, visit the comment section of last year’s MN State Fair On-A-Stick where our friend Teri (who works at the Fair) knocks our socks off with her bounty of State Fair knowledge.


Worlds Greatest, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Dairy Barn, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

World’s Greatest, Dairy Barn, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



What’s New In Food at the Minnesota State Fair?

I’m going to wrap up with my favorite subject — FOOD! Corn fritters, fried green tomatoes, and blooming onions debuted 15 years ago (1993); nearly 500,000 corndogs are consumed at the Fair each year. This video of Minnesota State Fair food lovers snarfing Fair food on-a-stick is a must see. And there’s a breakdown below of all of this year’s foods on-a-stick, as well as what’s new in food at the Fair in 2008 (check out the Minnesota State Fair Food Finder).

I’ll come back after next week to give you a rundown on all the foods on-a-stick I ate (and let you know how Gnarls Barkley turned out). Oh, one more thing — if you want to save a little money, look for the Blue Ribbon Bargain Book Bonus Coupon. Liz just came home from Cub Foods with groceries, State Fair tickets for $8 each (Admission is $11 at the door), and our Blue Ribbon Bargain Book ($4 before August 20th). She’s a big Minnesota State Fair fan and early bird bargain shopper!



Ways To Save $$$ At The Minnesota State Fair

(BRBB) BONUS COUPON –

  • The State Fair Blue Ribbon Bargain Book has 100 coupons worth over $500 in savings on food, merchandise and attractions. New this year, the book contains a bonus coupon good for a free ride or admission at one of the five favorite fair attractions, including the Butterfly House, Pirate Island Shootout, Space Tower, Sky Ride and Ye Old Mill.
  • Blue Ribbon Bargain Books are available through August 20th for only $4 wherever pre-Fair discount admission tickets are sold. During the Fair, books may be purchased at State FairWear Gift Shops on the Fairgrounds for just $5.

SUNSET SUNDAY SAVINGS –

  • On Sundays, August 24th and August 31st, this evening promotion will feature a minimum of 20% off at participating vendors from 8 p.m. until close.



Fried Fruit On-A-Stick Family, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Fried Fruit On-A-Stick Family, Minneapolis,
Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2008 by
QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


MN State Fair – Foods On-A-Stick

  1. Alligator Sausage on-a-stick
  2. Bacon (Fried) on-a-stick
  3. Bananas (chocolate covered) on-a-stick
  4. Beef Kabobs on-a-stick
  5. Beer Battered Brats on-a-stick
  6. Bomb Pops on-a-stick
  7. Butterscotch Cake on-a-stick
  8. Candy Apples on-a-stick
  9. Candy Bars (deep fried) on-a-stick
  10. Caramel Apples on-a-stick
  11. Catfish on-a-stick
  12. Cheese on-a-stick
  13. Cheese (fried) on-a-stick
  14. Cheesecake (chocolate covered) on-a-stick
  15. Chicken on-a-stick
  16. Chicken Bites on-a-stick
  17. Chocolate Chip Cookies on-a-stick
  18. Coffee (frozen) on-a-stick
  19. Corndogs on-a-stick
  20. Corned Beef and Cabbage on-a-stick
  21. Cotton Candy on-a-stick
  22. Dessert Dumplings on-a-stick
  23. Dixie Wings on-a-stick
  24. Espresso (frozen) on-a-stick
  25. Fruit (fresh) on-a-stick
  26. Fruit (fried) on-a-stick
  27. Fudge Puppies on-a-stick
  28. Hot Dago on-a-stick
  29. Hot Dish on-a-stick
  30. Hot Dogs (wrap) on-a-stick
  31. Key Lime Pie Dipped in Chocolate (frozen) on-a-stick
  32. Lamb (leg of) on-a-stick
  33. Macaroni & Cheese on-a-stick
  34. Marshmallows (Chocolate-dipped) on-a-stick
  35. Meatballs (porcupine wild rice & ground pork) on-a-stick
  36. Meatballs (Scotch) on-a-stick
  37. Meat Kabobs on-a-stick
  38. Nut Roll (chocolate-dipped) on-a-stick
  39. Pickles on-a-stick
  40. Pickles (deep fried) on-a-stick
  41. Pizza on-a-stick
  42. Poncho Dogs on-a-stick
  43. Pork Chops on-a-stick
  44. Pronto Pups on-a-stick
  45. Rueben on-a-stick
  46. Sausage on-a-stick
  47. Scones on-a-stick
  48. Scotch Eggs on-a-stick
  49. Shrimp on-a-stick
  50. Shrimp (grilled) on-a-stick
  51. S’mores on-a-stick
  52. S’mores (deep-fried) on-a-stick
  53. Spaghetti & Meatballs on-a-stick
  54. Spudsters on-a-stick
  55. Steak on-a-stick
  56. Taffy Pops on-a-stick
  57. Tater Tots (deep-fried) on-a-stick
  58. Turkey Tenderloin (bacon-wrapped) on-a-stick
  59. Vegie Fries on-a-stick
  60. Vegetable Kabobs on-a-stick
  61. Waffle (Belgian) on-a-stick
  62. Walleye on-a-stick
  63. Wild Rice Corndog on-a-stick


Total Number of Foods-On-A-Stick: 63


Freshmade Nutrolls, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Freshmade Nutrolls, Minneapolis, Minnesota,
August 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey.
All rights reserved.


New Minnesota State Fair Foods In 2008

    Chicken Bites on-a-stick (blackened chicken breast meat served with horseradish sauce)
    @Axel’s, located on the outside southeast corner of the Food Building
    Deep-Fried Ice-Cream
    @San Felipe Tacos, located in the Food Building
    Deep-Fried S’mores on-a-stick (marshmallow, chocolate and graham cracker, battered and deep-fried)
    @Oodles of Noodles, located inside the Food Building
    Deep Fried Tater Tots on-a-stick (tater tots made with hashbrowns, cheese, bacon, onions and sour cream deep-fried)
    @Axel’s, located on the southeast corner of the Food Building
    Dessert Chocolate Pizza
    @Pizza Shoppe, located inside the Food Building
    Fish Tacos (southern California-style fish tacos)
    @San Felipe Tacos, located in the Food Building
    Fried Bacon on-a-stick (Big Fat Bacon) (1/3 lb. slice of bacon fried and caramelized with maple syrup and served with dipping sauces)
    @Big Fat Bacon, located on Carnes Avenue near Nelson Street in front of the DNR Building
    Grilled Shrimp on-a-stick
    @Grilled Shrimp, located on Underwood Street near the Ye Old Mill
    Italian Breakfast Strata (layers of Italian sausage and cheese with Italian bread)
    @Oodles of Noodles, located inside the Food Building
    • Italian Ice (frozen non-dairy confections with up to 20 different flavors)
    @Isabella’s Italian Ice, located on the corner of Liggett Street and Dan Patch Avenue
    •Leprechaun Legs (lightly battered, deep-fried green beans with dipping sauce)
    @O’Garas, located inside the Food Building
    Neapolitan Cream Puffs
    @Cream Puffs, located on the corner of Liggett Street and Dan Patch Avenue
    Norwegian Style Cheese Curds (cheese curds battered in a Scandinavian batter, deep-fried and served with Lingonberry-flavored dipping sauce)
    @Ole and Lena’s, located on Liggett near Carnes
    Pickle Pop (pickle juice frozen in a plastic push-up sleeve)
    @Preferred Pickle, located inside the Food Building
    Pig Lickers (chocolate-covered crisp-fried bacon pieces)
    @Famous Dave’s, located on Dan Patch Avenue near Liggett Street
    Walking Taco (taco ingredients served neatly in a Dorito bag)
    @Church of the Epiphany, located on Underwood Street between Carnes Avenue and Judson Avenue
    Yaki-Soba Noodles (buckwheat style noodles, wok-fried with spices and vegetables)
    @Island Noodles, located inside the International Bazaar



MN State Fair Poster 2008, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.MN State Fair Poster 2008, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

MN State Fair Poster 2008, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2008, all photos © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



More Nuts, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. More Nuts, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. More Nuts, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



-posted on red Ravine, Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

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Foods On A Stick At The Minnesota State Fair 2006, YouTube Video by TKordonowy.

Whoa! After 8 hours at the Minnesota State Fair, Liz and I made it home at 10:30p.m. last night, not much worse for wear. Unless you count the fact that we could hardly walk and had giant food hangovers!


Here are our MN State Fair Stats for August 2007:

  • Money Spent: $102 (not counting the $41 we saved with Cub coupon book & ticket discount) [See WCCO Good Question with Ben Tracy: How Much Does The State Fair Make?]
  • Time Spent: 8 hours (just at the Fair, not including travel & walking time)
  • Photos Taken: 642 digital day & night shots (by the two of us)
  • Events Covered with $$$: admission tickets, Butterfly House, walking, walking, walking, digesting, all food & drink, people watching, shiny blue 100% cotton State Fair hoodie
  • Fair Booty: autographs from Don Shelby, Amelia Santaniello, and Frank Vascellaro from WCCO, 11 kinds of food (5 on-a-stick, favorite was Fried Fruit On-A-Stick), 7 kinds of drinks, Swine, Sheep, Cattle, Goat, Poultry Barns, J.V. Bailey House, Fine Arts Building, polka band and coffee cup hat at Farmers Union Coffee Shop, opera, Air America Talk Radio 950am, Al Franken for Senate booth, wonder and awe in the Butterfly House, joy and laughter all around


We ran out of time for the full tour of the J.V. Bailey House or our annual viewing of the Dairy Princesses carved from butter. And we missed A Prairie Home Companion at the Grand Stand and the escaped bull that ran amuck through the crowd. For more insight into our food hangovers, check out the YouTube video by TKordonowy, Foods On A Stick At The Minnesota State Fair 2006.

I know Minnesotans that go to the Fair at least 4 or 5 times in one week. Ralph Cornelius has attended the Minnesota State Fair for 80 years without missing one year. Ralph was even there as an infant in 1928. But I’ve got to say, for me, once every one or two years is enough. We had a great time this year. More photos to come. Enjoy the video!


-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, September 1st, 2007

-related to post, MN State Fair On-A-Stick

another video link you might enjoy that includes video in its infancy, 80’s hair, and brief footage of the butter sculptures:  Minnesota Stories, Just Plain Big: MN State Fair 1988

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