Next year in Falcon Heights


So the summer is winding down, kids are back to school, and another Minnesota State Fair has ended. For me, the fair was a true success – 4 visits (2 for work) and lots of new foods enjoyed. The New York cousins had a great time at the fair and there is even some talk of a childless adventure next year (the kids really slow you down). I also realized this year that there is a fair backlash among some Minnesotans. More on that later…but first, a recap of my 2011 experience.

Right: not sure why I look like I’m in pain

Of my top 5 goals from last year, I was able to cross two off the list:

My top 5 goals for the 2011 fair:

  1. check out a show at the Grandstand
  2. go to a livestock show of some kind
  3. not to fill up on French fries as soon as I get there
  4. have a Pronto Pup/corn dog taste test (Pronto Pup wins hands down)
  5. go on the Ye Old Mill ride


Here is a list of foods I ate all or part of over the course of 4 visits: corn dog, Pronto Pup, pretzel dog, cheese curds, onion rings, french fries, breakfast lollipop, deep-fried slider, mashed potatoes on-a-stick, deep fried banana split, Big Fat Bacon, deep-fried pickles, breakfast croissant sandwich, plain croissant, strawberry rhubarb malt, lemon sour soda, 1919 root beer, lemonade, deep-fried cheese on-a-stick, walleye cakes, salad on-a-stick, peaches and cream parfait, Gizmo sandwich, Cinni minis, all you can drink milk, iced coffee, Sweet Martha’s cookies, roasted corn, pickle dog, sweet corn ice cream, deep-fried apple pie, Elvis sandwich.

Right: The Mandell boys and some curds

Top 5 new foods (that I tried)

  1. pretzel dog – hot dog wrapped in pretzel dough (available with three different types of mustard)
  2. deep-fried banana split – fresh banana wrapped in lefse and deep-fried with ice cream, whipped cream, nuts, and chocolate syrup
  3. sweet corn ice cream – a really good vanilla ice cream with bits of sweet corn
  4. walleye cakes – exactly as they sound, but with a homemade lemony sauce
  5. pickle dog – kosher pickle spear wrapped in cream cheese and pastrami (odd, but tasty)

And now to the backlash I mentioned earlier. I noticed more than ever that some people roll their eyes at the fair. As someone who has fully embraced this piece of pure Minnesota wackiness, I take offense. To the best of my ability I have narrowed it down to six reasons why people do not go to the fair (yeah, I like lists). And for some, I have added solutions:

  1. The Elitist – This person looks down on the rest of us from the lake cabin up North (maybe that’s why I haven’t yet received an invite)
  2. The Nonconformist – If 1.8 million people choose to do something, this person will automatically choose otherwise (it’s in their nature)
  3. The Repressed Memory – This person was left on a Midway ride at the age of 7 and has not returned (solution: therapy)
  4. The Claustrophobe –  This person hates crowds (solution: go early in the morning, during the week, or at night)
  5. The Cheapskate – This person complains about how expensive it is at the fair (solutions: advanced tickets, Blue Ribbon Coupon Book, and tons of free events and giveaways)
  6. The Health Nut – This person hasn’t been to the fair in years because he/she thinks that all of the food is deep-fried and unhealthy (solutions: salad on-a-stick, Midtown Produce Exchange, roasted corn, Turkey-To-Go, and many others)

So there you have it – my 2011 Minnesota State Fair experience, all wrapped up, dipped in beer batter, and deep-fried for your enjoyment.

Left: My son’s Blue Ribbon winning scarecrow