2016 Minnesota State Fair Commemorative Art by Michael Sweere

There is no way I could write a Minnesota Lifestyle blog without mentioning The Great Minnesota Get Together!

This year’s commemorative art (above) was done by Minneapolis artist Michael Sweere. He created the mosaic piece entirely from paper packaging, much from his 2015 State Fair visit.

The Minnesota State Fair opened yesterday and runs through Labor Day. I grew up visiting the fair and having to wait for my parents in the Grandstand while they finished the Milk Run. Snooze. My younger self couldn’t understand why anyone would pay to run. (I get it now.) But then we’d walk around (Milk Run finishers got a free milkshake) and I’d beg for alphabet wooden blocks to spell my name. In hindsight it’s best they didn’t, because my name would have been spelled wrong. That’s a long (not really) story for another day.

Despite not getting my wooden name blocks as a kid, I love the State Fair! Playing games in the Midway, getting up-close-and-personal with some farm animals, “shopping” in the Grandstand, admiring the quilts (I have a new appreciation after my foray into quilting), baked goods and crafts in the education building, remembering my Grandpa Marv when walking past all the tractors on display, walking around the International Bazaar, catching one of the daily parades, dreaming about projects in the Home Improvement building, and THE FOOD!

Last year it was s’mores beer and tipsy pies, this year I have a carpe diem and the rueben pickle dog on my list of new foods to try.

Carpe Diemcarpe_diem_lbA Taiyaki (fish-shaped) buttermilk miso waffle cone filled with balsamic-roasted strawberry compote and topped with vanilla ice cream, graham cracker crumble and a fresh strawberry.

Reuben Pickle Dogreuben_dog_lbA dill pickle spear with sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing wrapped in a slice of pastrami.

And let’s not forget the staples: corn on the cob, cheese curds, corndogs, 1919 root beer floats, garlic fries, tacos, turkey sandwiches, deep fried pickles, and shakes from the dairy building.

For anyone who hasn’t been to the Minnesota State Fair it can seem a little daunting. The fair covers 320 acres, runs for only a 12 days, and is hosted during the hottest time of the year. Here are a few key pieces of advice:
1. Buy tickets in advance. You’ll save money and time at the gate.
2. Take a shuttle. While it will probably take a little longer, it’s free, and boy does that A/C feel good after walking around all day.
3. Go early in the day. Things are cleaner, less crowded, and usually the weather is more comfortable…plus the food is fresher.
4. Don’t be stupid. Wear comfortable shoes, bring lots of cash, and be prepared to see some of the ugliest people in the state. It’s a real self esteem booster. I can’t wait to go this year.

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