For decades, my dad complained that people didn’t understand how little of the food dollar goes to the farmers who grow the food. Every time the farmer’s price went up — for milk or corn or pigs — the grocery store price went up by even more. When the farmer’s price went down, the grocery store price usually didn’t follow in that direction. Continue Reading
Every year I remember the loveliness of the bike ride to get to the state fair. And then I’m reminded of the horror that is the last one tenth of one mile to the bike corral. This is particularly problematic for anyone arriving on the U of M Transitway, which is the obvious way to ride there from Downtown, Dinkytown, or most of south Minneapolis. Continue Reading
Remember kaleidoscopes, where impossibly bright designs shift and rearrange as you turned the cylinder? I thought of those as I looked at the extravagantly colored and stitched quilts at the Minnesota State Fair. Hours of thought clearly go into not only the stitching and cutting, but also the artistic design and patterns. Whether they are painstakingly hand-stitched or machine-quilted, each one is a work of art.
When you think of Minnesota State Fair food, you may think of cheese curds, corn dogs and gooey cookies. But over the years, that narrative has been changing, and Minnesotans have been seeing more culturally diverse foods popping up on the fair grounds.Many ethnic food vendors from South Minneapolis’ Midtown Global Market (MGM) have made the fair their home, and this year that number is increasing. Panaderia el Mexicano made their debut appearance at the fair selling Mexican bakery items. Other MGM booths include Holy Land Grocery and Deli, La Loma Tamales, Taqueria los Ocampo, Manny’s Tortas, Salty Tart Bakery and Cafe, Fiesta in America, Café Finspång, and The Produce Exchange.”I expect within 5 years ethnic foods will take over the State Fair,” said Holy Land Grocery and Deli owner Majdi Wadi. “People are coming to the fair to try different, cultural foods.”Holy Land is making their seventh appearance at the fair this year with their location at the International Bazaar, and Wadi said that every year he has noticed an increase in sales and an increase in the acceptance of his food and other ethnic foods.Two years ago the lamb fries were so popular that Holy Land ran out, Wadi said, so now the meat has to be reserved far in advance and it’s hard to procure enough quantities for the fair. Wadi said he hopes to be able to bring the item back to the fair next year, but for this year fairgoers will have to look for their other items, like falafel-on-a-stick, kushari rice and tabouleh salad.After a three-year hiatus from the fair, La Loma Tamales is back for their fifth year as one of the featured restaurants at the MGM booth inside the International Bazaar. Continue Reading
The Minnesota State Fair has one of the premier horse expositions in the Upper Midwest and all events are free with gate admission. Each year, the Fair offers new features to the horse show. New to the 2014 State Fair was the Northern Lakes Vaulters and Gaited Horse Demonstration at the Warner Coliseum Aug. 24. The large audience was in awe watching graceful gymnastic aerial moves on the back of a trotting horse. Continue Reading
Photos by Jeff Rutherford
It was hard to tell if it was thunder in the sky or the cheering of thousands of teens at the DigiFest Minnesota concert at the Minnesota State Fair Grandstand Sunday. It was both. The occasional rain downpours never dampened the thundering cheering of fans devoted to beloved YouTube and Vine personalities gathered in one place. To be sure, DigiFest is all about social media. I attempted to find a brochure, a flyer, a catalog, something that would explain what a DigiFest was. Continue Reading
The last fireworks explode. The grandstand concert empties. It’s time for the corn roasters’ nightly dance. The young food workers cover the hot coals with metal sheets, climb onboard, and jump and dance as the embers cool beneath them.
If you want to see the biggest transit show in Minnesota, or anywhere between Chicago and the West Coast for that matter, hop a bus to the new State Fair bus terminal between now and Labor Day. Almost half of fairgoers arrive by bus, and those are now concentrated on the northwest side of the fair grounds. In addition to the new entry gate that replaced Heritage Square (see above), the terminal itself is just temporary fencing and lines painted on the asphalt of the big parking lot that serves the U of M’s St. Paul Campus most of the year. Built on the cheap, the loading and layover areas will need improvement because the buses are crushing the thin asphalt. Even so, it’s a big improvement on the facilities it replaced. Continue Reading
The Fair began this year, as it usually does, with friends and breakfast at Salem. Rain and the promise of humid heat kept the crowds away. We spent the morning volunteering at Renewing the Countryside and the afternoon wandering the Fairgrounds searching for old favorites and new possibilities. Continue Reading