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MUSIC REVIEW | Journey and Joan Jett electrify the Minnesota State Fair

The Minnesota State Fair was given an explosive final farewell to the 2014 Grandstand Concert Series as Journey and Joan Jett & the Blackhearts came together for an amazing rock sound that electrified the myriad masses out of their food comas and on to their feet.Joan Jett and the Blackhearts opened the show at 7pm sharp, ripping right into “Bad Reputation” and keeping the energy level high as people scrambled to get to their seats and enjoy the show. Jett was absolutely stunning on stage, exuding charm, energy, and a playful stage presence that was captivating. Joan Jett and the Blackhearts know what they’re doing, and they do it well, as they blasted through almost an hour of straight forward, high-octane rock and roll.Journey then took the stage following a fairly lengthy intermission and captivated in their own right. While Joan Jett has that wonderful, fast, heavy hitting sound that conjures visions of energetic nights in small venues, Journey is almost pure arena rock. Journey is sing-along rock, it is “bust out your lighters and sway to the tune” rock, and their performance brought you to all of those moments, from the classic “Any Way You Want It,” to the track with the greatest music video ever in “Separate Ways” (which brought a ridiculous and completely unexpected pop from the crowd), to the more mellow sounds of songs such as “Lights” and “Open Arms.”Arnel Pineda is an amazing frontman, a man with an incredible amount of energy and a million dollar smile who knows how to work a crowd, and while he was given plenty of time as the face, each band member was given their own chance to shine, and each of them did. Continue Reading

Photos by Ann Treacy

MUSIC REVIEW | Local heavy hitters come out at MN Music On-A-Stick at the Minnesota State Fair

MN Music On-A-Stick on Saturday, Aug. 30was a celebration of the great variety and quality of local music we have in Minnesota. Hosted by The Current, one of the most astute observations came from Mark Wheat when he noted that all but one of these bands (Bob Mould) has emerged since The Current went on air in 2005. The Current has been a force to promote local bands–from Americana to Hip Hop and we saw it all on stage.Cactus Blossoms started the show. The crowd was still drifting in but there were dedicated music fans sitting and waiting under the stage for the show to start. Continue Reading

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Extreme Canines Stunt Dog Show thrills Minnesota State Fair audiences

Mr. Stunt Dog, AKA Chris Perondi, takes pound dogs and turns them into extreme canines. New to the Minnesota State Fair, Perondi’s stunt dog show entertains packed crowds three times a day on the North Woods stage.Perondi, a native of Stockton, Cali., has specific criteria when searching for a rescue dog for his show, and they aren’t lap dogs. “I look for high energy dogs that love to have fun. Dogs that like to soar, spin, fly and jump. It takes a good six months to a year to train them in tricks and stunts,” he said.Perondi selects pups that have what he calls tunnel vision. Continue Reading

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Fans vote for their favorite Minnesota State Fair vendors

Minnesota State Fair fans chose their favorites in the Great Minnesota Get-Together’s third People’s Choice Awards. In a ceremony held on Aug. 28 at the International Bazaar Stage, State Fair General Manager Jerry Hammer presented the following awards honoring fairgoers’ favorite vendors.Best Food or Beverage: The Sandwich StopBest Attraction: Foci – Minnesota Center for Glass Arts (glass blowing demonstrations at West End Market)Best Value: Minnesota ApplesBest Customer Service: Railroad Art by John CartwrightBest Product or Service: Borgert Products Inc. (concrete pavers, stones, retaining walls, fireplaces, outdoor ovens, and fountain kits for outdoor living spaces)The awards program began in 2012 with the goal of recognizing outstanding vendors, while allowing fairgoers to determine the best of the best. During the first five days of the State Fair, visitors were invited to nominate their favorites in these five categories at any information booth, according to the State Fair.The 2014 Minnesota State Fair runs Aug. 21 through Labor Day, Sept. Continue Reading

(Photos by Stephanie Fox)

GLOBAL GROCERIES | Need sunscreen? Diapers? Steichen’s Market is an oasis among food on sticks

If you’re looking for something on a stick, Steichen’s Market and Deli at the Minnesota State Fair is not for you. The store’s motto is “Cease the grease. Nothing on a stick since 1933.” But for anyone looking for diapers or allergy medicine, this market might be your best friend.Those who actually stay full-time at the Great Minnesota Get Together – people who run the Midway rides or operate a food booth or who brought a four legged 4-H project to show – already know about Steichen’s Market and Deli. It’s the only place to go when you need cleaning supplies, diapers, cereal, aspirin, antihistamine, shampoo, deodorant, bandages, sunscreen, canned tuna, and even dental floss.But, even if you don’t work at the fair, if you’re one of the nearly two million people who attend only as a visitor, you’ve probably seen the signs for the store. You may have thought the place was off limits to sightseers. Continue Reading

(Photos by Jennifer Larson)

The hands that feed us: Workers at the Minnesota State Fair

Every year crowds of people head to the Minnesota State Fair, thinking about the food they’ll eat, the rides they’ll take and the people they’ll watch. But how often do we notice the people who make this whole thing happen? From the people who make and serve us the food, to the ride operators, to the folks who clean up after us — who’s working behind the scenes at the fair? This photo essay is just a start in telling the story of the many people who work behind the scenes to give us the Minnesota State Fair. Continue Reading