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By Teri Blair


St. Paul's Icelandic Lutheran Church, March 2009, photo © 2009 by Teri Blair, all rights reserved

St. Paul’s Icelandic Lutheran Church, Minneota, Minnesota, where the services for Minnesota writer Bill Holm were held, March 2009, photo © 2009 by Teri Blair. All rights reserved.




Early on a Sunday morning in March, I drove three hours to attend the funeral of writer Bill Holm. Since that day, I’ve wanted to write about it. But I keep getting stuck. I pace. I try again. The paper is crumpled and thrown in the trash.

What’s wrong? I’m trying to make my writing as grand as Bill was, or as eloquent as I think he deserves. When I stop writing and try to do the dishes instead, I consider what Natalie Goldberg would tell me to do. She’d say, Just tell the story. The story is enough.




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The First Settlement, sign outside the St. Paul’s
Icelandic Lutheran Church, March 2009, photo
© 2009 by Teri Blair. All rights reserved.





Bill was born on a Minnesota prairie farm, educated at the local public school, and grew to be six-and-a-half feet tall. He had a huge shock of red hair that turned white with age, ruddy cheeks, and a beautiful, booming voice. He left Minnesota after college to live around the world, but by the time he was 40 he had returned to his hometown, to his roots. He taught English and poetry for 27 years at Southwest State, and proceeded to publish 16 books. He bought a house in Iceland, and split his time between Minneota, Minnesota and a cottage near the Arctic Circle. He was bold and certain and convicted. He was funny and irreverent and warm.

I heard Bill speak a year before he died. He was reading from The Window of Brimnes at the Minneapolis Public Library. He was three weeks shy of retirement, and could barely contain his excitement for the next phase of life. No one in the audience could have guessed his new life would only last a year. When Minnesota Public Radio announced he had died after collapsing at the airport, I was crushed. Bill couldn’t be dead. I had just seen him. And he was just starting his new life, remember?

I knew I would go to his funeral. It was obvious. I now consider that I may have ignored that quiet voice telling me to go. I’ve done that before, argued myself out of following my instincts. But this time I didn’t.


Minnesota River, March 2009, photo © 2009 by Teri Blair, all rights reservedI packed a lunch the night before, and got on the road the next morning before daylight. The funeral was at St. Paul’s Icelandic Lutheran Church, built in 1895 by immigrants. Because I knew there wouldn’t be much room in the small church, I got there two hours early. After securing a space in the back pew with my coat and bag, I went to the front to look at the floral arrangements. The flowers had come from around the globe, from everyone. An open copy of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass was in the bouquet from his wife. When I returned to my seat, another early-arriver walked in. Poet Laureate & Pulitzer Prize winner Ted Kooser. When I saw him, I knew what the day was going to be like.

One by one they began to arrive, the gray-haired authors. Many of them I knew, and some I only recognized from book jackets but couldn’t place their names. Ten of them were pallbearers. I was awed. Humbled. I’d watch them approach each other, hug, and weep together over losing their friend. Not competitive. Tender. Attached to each other. I was in the company of greatness, and I knew it. They were steady. Present. The media wasn’t allowed into the church, and there was a hush of holiness. We gathered, and honored, and were still.

The funeral service was a full two hours long. In addition to writing, Bill was an accomplished pianist. There were Bach piano solos and Joplin’s ragtime. An octet from the college sang Precious Lord Take My Hand. Bill’s poetry and essays were read. The preacher made us all laugh when he told how Bill sat in the choir loft during sermons and read the newspaper. Though he didn’t agree with all the theology of Lutherans, he valued his roots in that little church.

When the service was over, Bill’s wife was led out first. A tall woman who looked sad and grounded and strong and peaceful. The author-pallbearers followed her out. Some of them held hands, and they stood very close to each other. I wanted time to move slower, to be with them longer in that small place.




Minneota's library, the librarians would call Bill Holm, and he'd walk there to sign books for the tourists, March 2009, photo © 2009 by Teri Blair, all rights reserved

Minneota’s Library, the librarians would call Bill Holm,
and he’d walk there to sign books for the tourists, March
2009, photo © 2009 by Teri Blair. All rights reserved.

 

 

After ham sandwiches at the American Legion, I found the farm where Bill had been raised. On a deeply secluded road, the old farmstead sat on top of a hill. I got out of my car and looked at the beautiful rolling hills that Bill grew up on. I imagined the hundreds of times he walked down the same long driveway where I stood to wait for the school bus. I drove to the Icelandic cemetery and looked at the graves of his parents, imagining some of his ashes would soon be inurned there, too. I drove home slowly, filled with all I had seen.

Bill would appreciate me going to his funeral, but he wouldn’t want me to stay sentimental too long. He’d expect me to get on with it. Get on with it, now, he’d say. Be alive.




Westerheim Icelandic Cemetery, March 2009, photo © 2009 by Teri Blair, all rights reserved

Westerheim Icelandic Cemetery, March 2009,
photo © 2009 by Teri Blair. All rights reserved.





 
___________________________________________

 

Letting Go of What Cannot Be Held Back

by Bill Holm


Let go of the dead now.
The rope in the water,
The cleat on the cliff,
Do them no good anymore.
Let them fall, sink, go away,
Become invisible as they tried
So hard to do in their own dying.
We needed to bother them
With what we called help.
We were the needy ones.
The dying do their own work with
Tidiness, just the right speed,
Sometimes even a little
Satisfaction. So quiet down.
Let them go. Practice
Your own song. Now.

 

___________________________________________

Poem copyright (c)2004 by Bill Holm, from his most recent book of poems “Playing the Black Piano,” Milkweed Editions, 2004.




 

Poet Bill Holm, 1943-2009, from the program for his Memorial Service in Minneota, Minnesota, original photograph by Brian Peterson, April 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Poet Bill Holm, 1943-2009, Memorial program photograph by QuoinMonkey, original photograph of Bill Holm © 2009 by Brian Peterson.

About Teri Blair:  Teri Blair is a freelance writer living in Minneapolis and founder of the Poetry & Meditation Group of which QuoinMonkey fondly and frequently writes. (See Postcard From Billy Collins — Kicking Off National Poetry Month for the latest post on that group and Teri’s piece titled Desire And A Library Card — The Only Tools Necessary To Start A Poetry Group for a step-by-step on how to start your own.)

Teri is an active and valued member of the red Ravine community. Her other posts include A 40-Year Love Affair, about Bill Irvine’s passion for the Parkway, a landmark theater in Minneapolis that closed in 2008; and 40 Days, 8 Flags, And 1 Mennonite Choir and Thornton Wilder & Bridges, both prompted by the August 2007 collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis. Teri was also one of our first guest writers, with the piece Continue Under All Circumstances.

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Mississippi Drive-By, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Mississippi Drive-By, sunset on the Mississippi, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.








Spring thaw spills over
Mississippi’s swollen banks;
Red River rages










I’ve been thinking about rivers this week as the Red River border between Fargo, North Dakota and Moorhead, Minnesota spreads out over the land. Happy for Spring, this mighty south to north flowing river is swelled and overreaching her banks, leaving human devastation in her wake. The Red River stood at 40.71 feet shortly after 8:15 a.m., down a bit from the 40.8 feet at the stroke of midnight. That’s nearly a foot higher than the Red River has ever before reached in recorded history.

Rivers have minds of their own. And the Red River is a rebel. I remember a 1970’s flooding of the Susquehanna River when I was in college in Pennsylvania. Everyone was evacuated to higher ground; we were out of school for a week. My hometown hosts the mighty Mississippi, a river that writer Mark Twain knew intimately. He wrote about her history and human habitation in Life on the Mississippi. He also had this to say about trying to tame her:


The Mississippi River will always have its own way; no engineering skill can persuade it to do otherwise…

       – Mark Twain in Eruption

The same appears to be true of the Red River. This week, citizens of the area have lost homes and businesses swallowed up by the river. Thousands of Midwesterners in the Great White North rose to the occasion, sandbagging between the echoing dribbles of basketball’s March Madness. Cheering for the home team kept their minds from spinning, a kind of in-the-moment relief.

But yesterday, officials in the flood-plagued Minnesota community of Moorhead asked about one-third of their households to evacuate ahead of the rising river. Moorhead along with neighboring Fargo, North Dakota, a city of more than 90,000, are preparing for further evacuations. The river is not expected to crest until Sunday afternoon, an all-time high of 42 feet. Thank goodness the cold weather this week left the Red frozen to the bone, unable to push the higher limits that were predicted.

Our prayers are with our communities to the North, though the odds may not be. It has always been this way with rivers; and so it shall always be. And if it’s true what Twain says that “we form our opinions of our country from what other people say of us,” then Midwesterners will always go down as a people who show up for each other when the chips are down. Middle of the country. Middle America. High regard for the land, the rivers, the habitat, and the people who commingle there.



It is strange how little has been written about the Upper Mississippi. The river below St. Louis has been described time and again, and it is the least interesting part. One can sit on the pilot-house for a few hours and watch the low shores, the ungainly trees and the democratic buzzards, and then one might as well go to bed. One has seen everything there is to see. Along the Upper Mississippi every hour brings something new. There are crowds of odd islands, bluffs, prairies, hills, woods and villages–everything one could desire to amuse the children.

Few people every think of going there, however. Dickens, Corbett, Mother Trollope and the other discriminating English people who ‘wrote up’ the country before 1842 had hardly an idea that such a stretch of river scenery existed. Their successors have followed in their footsteps, and as we form our opinions of our country from what other people say of us, of course we ignore the finest part of the Mississippi.

 – Interview in Chicago Tribune, July 9, 1886, from Mark Twain Quotations


– For up to the minute coverage, photographs, and history, read about the Red River Floods of March 2009 at these links:


-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, March 28th, 2009

-related to posts: haiku 2 (one-a-day), susquehanna haiku, savannah river haiku

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Sage & John Cowles Convervatory, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Sage & John Cowles Convervatory, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 2008, all photos © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



In keeping with last week’s Writing Topic, hundreds of windows turn Winter inside out at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden adjacent to the Walker Art Center. Established in 1927, the Walker began as the Upper Midwest’s first public art gallery. The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, which opened in 1988, is one of the nation’s largest urban sculpture parks and visitors to the Twin Cities don’t often leave without walking the 11-acre home to more than 40 works of art.

The Sage & John Cowles Conservatory on the western edge of the Sculpture Garden is a community contribution from philanthropists John Cowles, Jr. and his wife Jane Sage Fuller (who also had key roles in bringing the Guthrie Theater and Metrodome to Minneapolis). John Cowles Jr. was named president and CEO of Cowles Media in 1968, after beginning as a police reporter in 1953.

His father, John Cowles Sr., made the cover of TIME in 1935 when he and his brother, Gardner (Mike) Cowles Jr., bought the Minneapolis Star, then the 3rd weakest newspaper in the community. The brothers are descendants of a small-town banker, son of a Methodist elder in Iowa, who started out with little money until turning the Des Moines Register & Tribune and the Minneapolis Star Tribune into well-respected national newspapers.


According to a 1997 article in the Star Tribune:

John Sr. was president of the Minneapolis Star and Tribune Co. from 1935 to 1968, and chairman from 1968 to 1973. Through the influence of his newspaper and his own activities, he is credited with turning Minnesota from an isolationist state to an internationally engaged one, and leading the fight against the anti-Semitism that was openly practiced in the state when he arrived.


    RainGrate, Cowles Conservatory, January, 2008, all photos © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.      Standing Pink, Cowles Conservatory, January, 2008, all photos © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

RainGrate, Standing Pink, Cowles Conservatory, January, 2008, all photos © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



Sage Fuller Cowles is a dancer from Bedford Village, New York, and the stepdaughter of Cass Canfield, Sr., one-time chairman of Harper & Row. In the 1950s, she danced on Broadway and television and served as president of Planned Parenthood of Minneapolis from 1957-59. Her approach to philanthropy leans to the holistic, and our community receives the benefit:

I needed to have a new definition of philanthropy. The Greeks came to my rescue. “Love of mankind” was in the dictionary and that suited me fine. Philanthropy is not just about dollars and cents. It’s about giving time, energy, commitment to some idea or cause that we care about. We can all be philanthropists fueled by our individual passions, and we can do a better job of identifying our passions if our early experiences give us confidence to pursue them.

If we focus on educating the whole being would it make a difference to the quality of our communal life? Would we grow a different kind of citizen?

     -Sage Fuller Cowles from Getting Ahead of the Curve: Engaging Our Youngest Citizens, April 2006


We take a leisurely stroll through the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden every time we head to the Walker for a show. The main section of the three-part Cowles Conservatory houses Frank Gehry’s 22-foot Standing Glass Fish that you can just make out in the photograph. It also houses palm trees, pass-throughs covered in creeping fig, and striking seasonal displays in the Regis Gardens designed by landscape architects Barbara Stauffacher Solomon and Michael Van Valkenburgh.

When we walk by Deborah Butterfield’s horse, Woodrow, we are walking on the same ground where a 1913 convention of the Society of American Florists and Ornamental Horticulture was held in Minneapolis’ old armory. It was there that Theodore Wirth designed temporary display gardens to show what could be grown in Minnesota’s wintry climate. They were such a success that they were kept in place for decades as demonstration gardens until finally becoming casualties to freeway construction.


     String Theory, Cowles Conservatory, January, 2008, all photos © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Ghostwalker, Cowles Conservatory, January, 2008, all photos © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Palm Red, Cowles Conservatory, January, 2008, all photos © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


But the seed had been planted. Architect of the museum, Edward Larrabee Barnes, picked up the torch and designed the original 7.5 acre Sculpture Garden. In winter months (which in Minnesota can run from October to April), the cave-like city dwellers of Minneapolis and Saint Paul bask in places like Cowles Conservatory where walls of glass allow warmth and light to penetrate the Vitamin D deprived, sun-kissed face of a long dark Winter.



Resources:


-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, March 14th, 2009

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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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Carousel, MN State Fair, August 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Carousel, Minnesota State Fair, St. Paul, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. 


Carousels have a rich history at the Minnesota State Fair. I snapped this as we were leaving the Fair grounds Friday night. I receive a great deal of joy from the vibrant color, gritty glitz, and gauzy glamour of the night lights and carnival atmosphere of walking the Fair after dark.

The daylight was fun, too, but it was hot, dusty, and humid. When night cooled the air, the antique buildings creaked with relief from the heat, the moon rose over the Grandstand, and the 300 plus acres were electric with energy. That was my favorite time to prowl.

The original Minnesota State Fair carousel was called Cafesjian’s Carousel. In 1914, Austin McFadden paid the Philadelphia Toboggan Company $8,500 to build it, transport it to St. Paul, and assemble it on the grounds of the Minnesota State Fair, where it ran for 74 years. You can read what happened next when a St. Paul couple decided to fight the good fight to preserve its history and heritage at Our Fair Carousel. 

As for the carousel pictured in this photograph, I was not able to find any history from my brief research tonight. Maybe my friend that works at the Fair will be able to shed some light.

I remember riding the carousels as a child when I visited amusement parks with my parents. I always felt like I was tall and powerful, sitting atop a jumper. The standers bored me, even as a kid. I wanted to be moving, moving, moving.

Here’s a writing topic – do a 10 minute writing practice about your memories of carousels, or merry-go-rounds as we called them in my family. You can learn more about carousels at the Merry-Go-Round Museum. Write everything you know about carousels – Go!


-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, September 2nd, 2007

-related to posts: MN State Fair On-A-Stick and MN State Fair On-A-Stick II – Video & Stats

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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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Minnesota State Fair Button 2007, photo by QuoinMonkey, all rights reserved.

Minnesota State Fair Button 2007, quick snapshot after breakfast (notice the little piece of dirt on the middle right edge!), Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


It’s Minnesota State Fair time! And after over 150 years, it’s a Minnesota tradition. The Minnesota State Fair is the 2nd largest State Fair in the U.S., second only to Texas. However, while the Texas State Fair runs for 24 days and has a larger annual attendance, the Minnesota State Fair is only 12 days with a greater number of people attending each day.

One of the most significant dates in the Fair’s history was September 2nd, 1901 when then-vice president Teddy Roosevelt was visiting and first uttered the famous phrase, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”

Liz and I are heading to the Fair tomorrow afternoon. If it’s not raining, we’ll take the motorcycle and park in the lot set aside especially for us. Sweet! I don’t like crowds (attendance at the MN State Fair in 2006 was 1,689,579), so the highlight of the Fair for me is the food (what else?).

We are famous for our Fair food on-a-stick. Below is a complete list (from the Minnesota State Fair Press Kit, a great resource for everything Fair). Liz and I wrote down a few we want to try: espresso on-a-stick, hotdish on-a-stick, chocolate-covered nutroll on-a-stick, wild rice corndog on-a-stick, deep-fried fruit on-a-stick, and, let’s not forget, SPAM curds!

We’ve also got a friend working at the Fair this year (thanks for the buttons!). So we’ll be sure to stop by and visit her. And the Minnesota State Fair is a photographer’s paradise. There’s the fantastic people watching, the amazing art in the Fine Arts Building, the Milk Run, and the Princess Kay of the Milky Way Coronation organized by the Midwest Dairy Association.

Since 1953, the Princess Kay competition has recognized young women whose families are involved in Minnesota’s dairy industry (have I ever mentioned that Liz comes from a North Dakota dairy family?). Regional dairy princesses compete for the yearly title and the entire court have their likenesses carved out of butter during the Fair.

If you’ve never seen a butter sculpture, you are in for a treat! Hope to see you at the The Great Minnesota Get-Together. Or if you can’t attend, tell us about the Fairs in your part of the world!


MN STATE FAIR – FOODS ON-A-STICK

  1. Alligator Sausage on-a-stick
  2. Bacon Wrapped Turkey Tenderloin on-a-stick
  3. Beef Kabobs on-a-stick
  4. Beer Battered Brats on-a-stick
  5. Bomb Pops on-a-stick
  6. Butterscotch Cake on-a-stick
  7. Candy Apples on-a-stick
  8. Candy Bars (deep fried) on-a-stick
  9. Caramel Apples on-a-stick
  10. Cheese on-a-stick
  11. Chicken on-a-stick
  12. Chocolate Chip Cookies on-a-stick
  13. Chocolate Covered Bananas on-a-stick
  14. Chocolate Covered Cheese Cake on-a-stick
  15. Chocolate Dipped Nut Roll on-a-stick
  16. Coffee (frozen) on-a-stick
  17. Corndogs on-a-stick
  18. Corned Beef and Cabbage on-a-stick
  19. Cotton Candy on-a-stick
  20. Dessert Dumplings on-a-stick
  21. Espresso (frozen) on-a-stick
  22. Fried Fruit on-a-stick
  23. Fried Jalapeño Pepper Cheese on-a-stick
  24. Fried Swiss Cheese on-a-stick
  25. Fudge puppies on-a-stick
  26. Hot Dish on-a-stick
  27. Hot Dogs on-a-stick
  28. Key Lime Pie Dipped in Chocolate (frozen) on-a-stick
  29. Kiddi Kabobs on-a-stick
  30. Macaroni & Cheese on-a-stick
  31. Marshmallows (Chocolate-dipped) on-a-stick
  32. Meatballs on-a-stick
  33. MinneKabobs on-a-stick
  34. Pickles on-a-stick
  35. Pickles (deep fried) on-a-stick
  36. Pickles (Kool-Aid) on-a-stick
  37. Pizza on-a-stick
  38. Poncho Dogs on-a-stick
  39. Pork Chops on-a-stick
  40. Pronto Pups on-a-stick
  41. Rueben Dog on-a-stick
  42. Salmon on-a-stick
  43. Sausage on-a-stick
  44. Scallops on-a-stick
  45. Scones on-a-stick
  46. Scotch Eggs on-a-stick
  47. Shrimp on-a-stick
  48. Sloppy Joes on-a-stick
  49. S’mores on-a-stick
  50. Spaghetti & Meatballs on-a-stick
  51. Spudsters on-a-stick
  52. Super Dog on-a-stick
  53. Taffy Pops on-a-stick
  54. Vegetable Kabobs on-a-stick
  55. Wild Rice Corndog on-a-stick
  56. Walleye on-a-stick

Total number of foods on-a-stick: 56

NEW MN STATE FAIR FOODS IN 2007

Apple fries (julienne apples crumb-coated and deep-fried)
@Coaster’s, located on the corner of Liggett Street and Carnes Avenue
Blackened steak wrap with steak, eggs, potatoes and cheese
@Ragin Cajun, located on the west wall in The Garden
BLP (bacon, lettuce, pico de gallo) quesadilla
@Tejas, located on the north wall in The Garden
Buffalo chips and cheese
@Delicious Potato Skins, located inside the south door of the Food Building
Butterscotch cake on-a-stick (a cream-filled cake dipped in butterscotch)
@Scotch Eggs, located east of the Horse Barn on Liggett Street
Cajun shrimp wrap with shrimp, eggs, potatoes and cheese
@Ragin Cajun, located on the west wall in The Garden
Calamari Fish and Chips
@two locations: inside the Food Building on the west side; west of Liggett Street on the northeast corner of the Horse Barn
Coca-Cola cheesecake dipped in chocolate on-a-stick
@Apple Lil’s, located in Heritage Square
Corned beef and cabbage on-a-stick
@O’Gara’s, located inside the east door of the Food Building
Fried fruit on-a-stick (pineapple, grapes, bananas, strawberries, apples, cherries, kiwi, honeydew and cantaloupe skewered, dipped in a sweet batter and deep fried)
@Fried Fruit, located in Carousel Park near the Grandstand Ramp
Jambalaya with eggs, potatoes and cheese
@Ragin Cajun, located on the west wall in The Garden
Knuckle sandwich (brined pork with sweet & zesty sauce and caramelized onions on a hoagie bun)
@Famous Dave’s, located north of Adventure Park on West Dan Patch Avenue
Kool-Aid pickles
@Famous Dave’s, located north of Adventure Park on West Dan Patch Avenue
Lingonberry turnovers
@Rainbow Ice Cream, three locations: east of Underwood Street and just south of Carnes Avenue under the Skyride; southwest corner of Dan Patch Avenue and Underwood Street; west of Underwood Street, between Wright Avenue and Dan Patch Avenue
Old fashioned ice cream sodas
@Bridgeman’s, located on the northwest corner of Judson Avenue and Liggett Street
Peanut butter hot dog
@Blue Moon Dine-In Theater, located on the corner of Carnes Avenue and Chambers Street
Rocky road scones on-a-stick (scones with chocolate chips, caramel and marshmallow, rolled and baked)
@French Meadow, located inside the southeast door of the Food Building
S’mores on-a-stick
@Ultimate Confections, located inside the east door on the lower level of Grandstand
Soda fountain funnel cakes (topped with Coca-Cola, Cherry Coke, Sasparilla, whipped cream or custard)
@Apple Lil’s, located in Heritage Square
Sloppy joes on-a-stick
@Axel’s, located on the southeast corner outside the Food Building
SPAM burger, Hawaiian SPAM burger, SPAM curds
@SPAM Burgers located in Carousel Park under the Grandstand Ramp
Uffda brat (Norwegian brat wrapped in potato lefse)
@Sausage Sisters, located inside the east door of the Food Building

-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, August 26, 2007

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