Sunday, September 14, 2008

Old Home Weekend

In addition to Vegas, we did also make it to Minnesota for the State Fair. I grew up going to the State Fair and yes, even showed there many years (hunt seat horseback riding, although my horse was so spooked by the arena and we had some issues -- I still have my cooler and my silver plates for winning various classes there). I haven't been since before the wee ones were born, although I talked a good game.

This January, I lost my mind and agreed to meet some friends of mine from high school who now live in New York. Yay, sounds fun. I had some angst about the trip, but we all went.

And it wasn't so bad. Except for the constant whining and crying from the wee ones who couldn't truly fall asleep during naptime in the car but rather doze off and on. I do highly recommend swim lessons immediately prior to leaving for a road trip. Fortunately we arrived safely and with sanity mostly intact.

On a random note, we went to Southdale to eat on Thursday night because it was close to our hotel and easy. And we found an interesting sight in the parking lot on our way back to our car. I had to take a picture. Ten points to whoever can identify why I took the picture.

Some people have more money than sense.

On the plus side, we had fun at the Fair. I highly recommend it. Of course, I outlasted everyone else we were with -- the wee ones were asking if they could go home about a half hour before we left. The good news is they asked to go back again next year.

On to your tour:

There are lots and lots of great baked goods and other items that are judged. I have no idea what makes a certain honey or vinegar or cookie or whathaveyou better than another, but I'd be happy to taste test and figure it out. And yes, if I still lived there, I'd probably enter just for the fun of it.

There are certain food items that you must eat while at the Fair. This includes cheese curds, chocolate malts (which unfortunately we didn't get because the line was too long and the wee ones were way past done by the time we got to the Dairy Barn), Tom Thumb donuts (not Tiny Tim), and Sweet Martha's Cookies. And to wash down the cookies? You get the $1 cup of milk that has infinite refills. Yum!

I also discovered this year that they had lingonberry ice cream (Mister Man's favorite new berry), but we never got a chance to have any. Next year, right?

The Dairy Barn also houses the butter sculptures. Every year, Princess Kay of the Milky Way and her court get their likenesses carved out of butter. Like 55 pounds of butter, I think. I discovered that day they get to take them home. Because one woman was in the court decades ago and still has her sculpture in her freezer. I would have had a huge party that involved eating a lot of butter, but that's just me.

It's something like 45 degrees inside there, which is how the butter doesn't melt (duh!) and is also hard enough to carve. Thus, the princess was wearing a jacket and gloves in August. I actually find the sculptures mildly creepy, but really, where else are you going to find something like this?

Something new (to me at least) wasthe Big Fat Bacon stand. While intriguing, I was content to look at the building and walk on.

One of my friends attending was not content to leave it at that. He had to ask what it was (one quarter pound of premium bacon cooked blah blah blah on a stick), and that sold him. Being the good Jew from New York that he is, though, he had to blot off the excess fat before he could eat it. Yes, I laughed at him. You can, too.

He really did enjoy his bacon though. And yes, I tried a small bite of it. Pretty good for bacon, actually. I wouldn't rush back to the Big Fat Bacon stand anytime soon though. The lingonberry ice cream stand would edge ahead of it somehow.

Said friend was also adopted by Little Miss. It all started when Mister Man discovered the big yellow slide. Growing up, I was never allowed to ride the slide. You essentially ride a potato sack down a three bump slide. Once. And it isn't cheap, although granted this is a Fair so what is?

Mister Man discovered the slide and really wanted to ride it. My husband, being the sucker that he is, agreed that he could. And Mister Man was especially pleased to discover that he was just tall enough to ride alone. He's soooooo proud when he can do things like this all by his lonesome.

So is anyone surprised that Little Miss also decided she had to ride the slide? And our friend was kind enough (and enough of a child at heart) to oblige her.

For the rest of the day, she stuck by his side. It's possible that she was also influenced by the frozen grapes that he generously shared with her, not that she could be bribed or anything.

She wanted him, and only him, to hold her hand and hang out with her. This included the seed exhibit. Yes, there is such a thing as seed art. Some of it is impressive. And I think that's the nicest thing I can say about it, but I do have to check it out every time I go. The seed scarecrows were also fairly impressive.

Their other favorite activity at the Fair was another of my not favorites.

But, being the nice mom that I am, they got to ride the round trip. With Daddy. The rest of us walked. Sucker!

And what would a fair be without animals? This was another one of the hits of the Fair. I unfortunately didn't get a picture of the baby pigs we saw being born, but that was really cool. The birthing barn is a new thing since I was growing up. Essentially you take a ton of pregnant farm animals and put them in one barn, each in its own enclosure that people can surround on all four sides with bleachers that can easily be moved around from station to station. Bring in vets, and voila - instant maternity ward with the less privacy a mother could imagine.

Having small children does come in handy sometimes. When parents saw me lifting up Mister Man, they insisted that he come up to the front because "he needs to see this!" Ok, if you insist. We'll move up. I'm definitely remembering this trick whenever I need an autograph or want a baseball tossed to me or whathaveyou.

We hit the majority of the animals, and I didn't take pictures really because ... they're farm animals. In a barn. I'm sure you've seen something similar before. Mister Man, on the other hand, was fascinated by the poultry. He wanted to take my camera and take pictures of them. We compromised in that I agreed to take pictures of him with the poultry. Score one for Mom!

You may have noticed that both the wee ones have leashes on. I debated whether I was going to use them or not and finally decided that their safety was worth my concerns over whether or not using them made me a bad mom. For the most part, Mister Man held my hand, so the leash was superfluous but it was a great safety net for my peace of mind.

On Saturday, we went to Mall of America for a little while to show it to the wee ones before I went to a visit a friend and her family. I was vindicated there. A man was running around Legoland frantically crying "Natalie! Natalie! Has anyone seen a little girl about this tall with yellow shorts and two ponytails? She's about two years old. Natalie!" Yeah.

Mister Man requested that the next time we go to Minnesota we ride some of the rides at whatever they're calling Camp Snoopy now. We'll think about it. But he was really intrigued by all the motion and rides and fun things we saw there. And he's right, it is pretty cool. Plus, the Legoland is a neat diversion.

By the time we left Minnesota, the wee ones were exhausted. Of course, only one of them slept, but isn't he a cutie?

We're so going back next year!


Kellan September 14, 2008 at 9:34 PM  

What a great time and that Big Bacon looks yummy, as did all the other food! What fun you all had and those are fabulous pictures. I'm glad you had such a good time! Kellan

Karen September 14, 2008 at 10:25 PM  

Oooh, what great fun that looks to be! I'll bet the kids just had a riot. Heck, I'll bet you did, too! Can't believe you didn't eat bacon.

Swishy September 14, 2008 at 11:42 PM  

How fun! And the food looks yummy :)

Jeff September 15, 2008 at 9:48 AM  

And when you do come back, give me a head's up in advance and I'll meet up with you guys somewhere! Oh, and I ALWAYS buy the endless glass of milk at the fair. It's the best!

Steph September 15, 2008 at 12:18 PM  

I LOVE fair's when I was growing up my mom use to take me as a way to provide cheap entertainment and I loved it. I remember looking at all the livestock at the 4-H contest as well as all the homegrown fruits and veggies and homemade bake goods! Ah what wonderful memories.

Cookie September 16, 2008 at 11:10 AM  

I haven't been to a real fair in a long time. It looks like fun!
So what's the picture of the license plate about?

Angela September 17, 2008 at 9:40 PM  

Okay, I'm trying trying trying to read what's on the car in the photo, and I'm just too blind. It won't let me enlarge the photo, so I'm dying to hear the story.

PS loved the other fair pics!! Looks like so much fun!

Angie's Spot September 18, 2008 at 6:20 PM  

I don't even know where to begin. Huge bacon on s stick? Lingonberry ice cream? Livestock maternity ward? Oh my stars, I would explode from overstimulation at a state fair. I'll just have to take your word for it. It certainly sounds like a VERY interesting adventure!

Now the Mall of America is more my speed. My parents took my little brother years ago, while I stayed home and had my first date with (what ended up being) my hubby. I got the good end of that deal, but I'm still itching to visit that place. LOL!

Michelle September 18, 2008 at 7:53 PM  

Kellan - The Big Bacon was yummy. But definitely not something I could have gnoshed on alone! Or could have paid money for.

Karen - It was a ton of fun, but I know I had more fun than they did. Lucky me, they will go back next year!

Swishy - It's all about the food. Totally.

Jeff - Will do. We're definitely coming back next year. I remember when the endless glass of milk was $0.25 though. I've really been doing that long.

Steph - They're great, aren't they? Have you been to one lately?

Cookie - Go again! Ok, and the license plate. It's in rhinestones on a Navigator. Chester Taylor is the name written. He's a running back for the Vikings. And apparently some people just can't get enough fame and have to advertise themselves. Totally cracked me up!

Angela - See above. The fair is fun. Do you go to your state fair ever? Or county?

Angie - Yep. Huge bacon on a stick. It is a bit overstimulating. But totally worth it. The MOA is actually sometimes more stimulating, but definitely worth a visit.

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