And so it begins. The event that signals the end of summer and the beginning of the school year. The event that attracts nearly 2 million people over 2 weeks. The event that Minnesotans eagerly anticipate and discuss ad nauseum every year. Like lemmings we board overcrowded buses and flock together to celebrate the thing that make us true Northstar state inhabitants – the Minnesota State Fair.
Everyone has their approach to attending the Fair. Their own traditions and strategies for conquering this 2 week celebration of food, animals, crafts, contests, rides and games. We all ask each other, when are you going? Did you go more than once? What did you eat? How was the people watching? Did you try any of the new food? This State Fair banter replaces our usual discussions about the weather and everyone’s Facebook feeds are replete with photos from the Fair. Some people choose to visit the animal barns, examining the countless rows of exotic chickens and rabbits stuffed into wire cages. Others choose to stroll through the livestock barns examining the cows, pigs, sheep and horses that are being cared for by the 4H kids. Some like the International Bazaar or the Miracle of Birth Building. Others want to see Princess Kay’s head carved in butter, or see who won the blue ribbon in the various competitions that seem like relics from the past.
I know plenty of people who like the beer tents or like to wander the grounds sampling the latest “hot” foods introduced at the Fair. I am a bit of a traditionalist. If I had my list of food that would fall victim to my eating agenda I would like a corn dog (not a Pronto Pup), a tub of fries, mini donuts and if the line isn’t too long, cheese curds.
Unfortunately, in recent years I have found that the allure of eating food that would make my health-conscious friends poop their Lululemons, can’t overcome my strong aversion of crowds. Oftentimes it is like a throng of Zombies in ill-fitting clothes have overtaken the great Minnesota get-together, shuffling slowly down Judson Avenue while they ram each other with their strollers filled with overwhelmed children who are sick of sharing their “ride” with free yardsticks and miscellaneous fair trinkets.
I suppose I could try and find an empty bench, park my ample posterior and watch the throngs of people shuffle past but I cannot bring myself to go. The concept of the Fair sounds so fun but I just am getting too old and crabby to fight my way through the crowds. All that being said, it doesn’t stop me from telling you about the newest foods at the Fair. Here is the list of new items being introduced this year:
1. Bacon Fluffernutter: Grilled cinnamon bun sandwich with a bacon, peanut butter and marshmallow cream filling.
At The Sandwich Stop, located on the west side of Clough St. between Carnes & Judson avenues
2. Bacon Up Pup: A Belgian waffle served on-a-stick with bacon in the batter, dipped in chocolate, drizzled with maple syrup, and topped with whipped cream and bacon.
At Granny’s Kitchen Fudge Puppies, located on the east side of Underwood St. between Dan Patch & Carnes avenues, outside the Food Building
3. Bowl O’ Dough: Scoops of straight-up, raw cookie dough that is safe to eat and available in four flavors:
- Brownie Batter Swirl: A chocolate chip cookie dough and brownie batter mash-up.
- Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough (gluten-free): A mix of classic cookie dough and chocolate chips.
- European Cookie Butter: Made with Biscoff® European spiced cookies.
- Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake with Blueberries: Lemons, fresh curd ricotta cheesecake andblueberries blended into a sugar cookie dough.
All served with a side of sea salt-flavored ice milk.
At Blue Moon Dine-In Theater, located on the northeast corner of Carnes Ave. & Chambers St.
4. Breakfast Buddy Bowl: Waffle bowl filled with hash browns, maple syrup, scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese and bacon, topped with a biscuit, country sausage gravy and green onions.
At LuLu’s Public House, located at West End Market, south of the Schilling Amphitheater
5. Brown Ale and Onion-Gouda Tipsy Pie: Onions caramelized in Lift Bridge Brewery’s Chestnut Hill Brown Ale with smoked Gouda cheese, baked in a pie crust, topped with an onion sugar and drizzled with a sweet beer glaze. At Sara’s Tipsy Pies, located in the Food Building, south wall
6. Cheesy Nacho Corn on the Cob: Roasted corn on the cob lightly coated with crushed Dorito® corn chips and nacho cheese. At Texas Steak Out, located on the west side of Underwood St. between Lee & Randall avenues
7. Cherry Bombs: Red licorice dipped in batter, deep-fried and dusted with powdered sugar.
At Vegie Fries, located on the north side of Dan Patch Ave. between Underwood & Cooper streets
8. Chocolate Popover with Peanut Butter Spread: Hot out-of-the-oven chocolate popover with a side of peanut butter spread. At LuLu’s Public House, located at West End Market, south of the Schilling Amphitheater
The Fair is a place that triggers strong memories for most of us living in Minnesota. We remember going there as a child and as adults we remember bringing our own children there. There is something nostalgic about the whole experience and if it wasn’t for the overcrowding, I would be there in my pink paper pig ear hat (“I visited the Oink Booth”), chumping on something delicious. As I won’t be going this year, here is a message from Yours Truly: