I’ve got to say, the fair is fun in and of itself, but it’s even more fun to bring someone that has never been or hasn’t been or done it in the right manner. You really need a strategy going into it. Otherwise, it’s not very fun and gets very overwhelming way too fast. Personally, I like to do the fair over the span of a couple days (usually not in a row). Living in Not-Minnesota, this becomes a trickier concept, but I will prevail.
This year, I brought my new friend, Alex. I felt he would thoroughly appreciate the experience. Alex is my friend from Chicago by way of London, Cincinnati and Massachusetts. He lived in Minnesota for a hot second when he was 2 and even went to the fair then, but what do you remember when you’re 2 years old?
So, the MN State Fair being what it is…and being Alex’s for-real first time, I told him it must be done in more than one day. There’s just way too much to see, eat and do (with emphasis on EAT). First, there’s the staples that every virgin fair goer must try and then there’s all the new foods that the seasoned fair goer (me) wants to try. And now that craft beer is a thing, there’s lots of exclusive, for-the-fair only beers to try.
We were going over Labor Day Weekend, which pretty much guaranteed that it would be a mad house, but it was the only weekend to make the most of a road trip to Minnesota from Chicago. If we’re going to do it, we’re going to do it right.
Our first day was rather casual and leisurely, we only had so much before our plans later that night. So let’s talk about how we did the fair on Day One. We entered at Gate 5, which is what I like to call the original gate off of Snelling (they’ve since built other that are more extravagant. Much to Alex’s not delight, I made us walk through almost the entire fairgrounds without getting anything until we got to our destination, but I’m going to say it was well worth it when he got the Chicken in a Waffle at the Blue Barn. I got the Triple Truffle Trotter (NEW FAIR FOOD). After having our brunch appetite whetted, we headed over to get in line for Grain Belt Blu (it was so long, but come on…you know it’s worth it. We got the Grain Belt Blu with a Red Sangria topper (aka slushie beer topper to keep my bevie cold).
Next up, with great anticipation was the Fried Pickles booth (yes, it’s just called Fried Pickles). These are in the form of a thick-cut chip and some awesome breading making the pickles pretty much perfect…and that’s what we got, The Perfect Pickle. There was also the option of the Cajun and the Gourmet, but let’s be purist for a second.
After that…we were a little thirsty and what better than All You Can Drink Milk (for $2). You get the option of chocolate or white milk. At this point, we also met up with our friend Katie, who had also come up to do the fair with her MN family.
The brought us to our second NEW FAIR FOOD, which was the Bacon Fluffernutter from The Sandwich Shop. What is a bacon fluffernutter, you ask? Well, it’s a cinnamon roll toast sandwich filled with marshmellow fluff, peanut butter and bacon. Add the side of maple syrup for dipping and some powdered sugar for ambiance. Heck, I even like the newsprint packaging it came in.
Next up were Apple Cider Freeze, which can only be found in the Horticulture building. Alex balked at the idea of entering this building because green things. But boy were these worth it…even at their increase rate of $1.50. Stupid inflation…they were at one point only $0.25. At this point, Alex was starting to feel full and wasn’t sure he could take on more food…that was until we entered the Food Building (yes, that’s what it’s really called).
First stop was at the fish place because I hearts the birch beer. We followed up the birch beer with a delicious Wild Rice Cheeseburger (I’m not even sure this stand has a name…). And of course the cheeseburger vs the hamburger because…cheese! What is a wild rice burger…well duh, it’s a wild rice and beef patty that come out to be about 1/3 lb. burger. Yums.
And you can’t leave the fair without having tried some cheese curds…even without the original cheese curd stand there anymore. [insert tear here]. So, we went to the big stand inside the food building, The Mouth trap. As much as Alex wanted a bucket (3 orders of cheese curds), I talked him out of it. It would NOT have been a good idea.
At this point, there were few items left for our Day One fair day…enter the Cheesy Nacho Corn-on-the-Cob (NEW FAIR FOOD). So…what this is…is an ear of corn slathered in mayo (think elotes), covered in crushed Nacho flavored Doritos and then has nacho cheese (the melty kind) poured over it. Honestly, I took a bite, but definitely not my thing. And it was on the messy side (like…oh, I saved that cheese and those crumbs on my face for later in case I got hungry).
And thus, we ended Day One of the fair (there was only the two of us. There was only so much we could eat in the span of 5-6 hours. I thought maybe I’d fit both days of the fair here, but definitely not possible. I hope you ended Day Two at the fair in the next post.