The great Minnesota get together otherwise know as the Minnesota state fair should be on everybody’s bucket list! While it is technically the second largest state fair in the country, it far and away is the most fun and easily the friendliest!! Nothing like mid-western hospitality. Even when the fair gets the most crowded and after much libations are consumed everyone remains polite, orderly and well behaved.
This year I was fortunate to be able to attend the state fair for my fourth time and it never gets old!
The main attractions at the fair are livestock, crafts, music, the midway and maybe the most important.. FOOD! Especially food on a stick! The Minnesotans take great pride in serving food on a stick at the state fair and annually battle one another for the next crazy food idea or the challenge of serving traditional dishes that have no business being on a stick, on a stick!
For those from mass, think the Topsfield fair times 20 with much wider streets, more music and beer! I have a great story from the Topsfield fair with my father that I will get to after I cover some of the food on a stick options at the Minn fair.
No Minn fair is complete without the iconic pronto pup. They are flat out the best corn dogs there are and they make a great little warm up breakfast to start the day.
Yes, breakfast! Get over it, all rules are thrown out the window at the state fair. And as the wise Diana Pearson reminded me during the fair, you can’t drink all day, if you don’t start right away. Hey, don’t judge me!
Ironically, the absolutelty best food at the fair doesn’t come on a stick. The corn on the cob! Well, a cob could be interpreted as a stick can’t it? I don’t know what it is but this corn is outstanding! Amazing! And I am not alone, they line up to get this stuff and these folks no how to handle a crowd. I have no idea why it is so good but trust me it is! I think they go through several hundred thousand ears in 10 days.
The other must have food that doesn’t come on a stick are the cheese curds. Yup, deep fried pieces of dairy yumminess! Oh, while the corn is probably the healthiest food choice a the state fair, not so these cheese curds. I can hear my arteries screaming for mercy as I eat them. But here is the secret to cheese curds and really all the food at the state fair. You need to have a strategy. Fortunately, I have learned from some pros, my Minnesotan family. There is no way you can go through the whole fair and taste everything you want, you’ll explode. The plan is simple, you go to the fair in groups and you share everything! This way you can try everything you want without overly gorging yourself, wait, that happens over time anyway. I did find out there is one thing that is not to be shared, and that is Emma’s ice cream. Nope. Not gonna happen. She isn’t a sharer! Speaking of Emma, I think she had ice cream or ice cream like dishes four times on the last day we were there. Which brings me to master state fair strategy number 2, one day just isn’t enough. It’s too big and you will be too rushed. Multiple days are needed and you also need to stagger your time there as the fair is different during the day than in the evening. So you will need to get there early one day (it opens at 6AM) and then get there later another so you can be there till the end to see the fireworks.
Some of the more interesting food items we tried this year were the fried olives and the fried Avocado. The Avocado was delish! Now there was one dish I refused to try, and that was Spam curds. Yes, deep fried Spam curds and if that wasn’t up your alley, you could have the Spamburger. Spam, Spam, Spam…
Now back to food on a stick. To show how truly obsessed they are with this concept I tried to capture some snaps of the variety you will find.
Yup, there’s buffalo on a stick, pork chop on a stick (which is really really good!), shrimp on a stick, hot dish on a stick, cheese on a stick, fruit on a stick, spaghetti and meatballs on a stick.
Egg rolls on a stick, scotch eggs on a stick, and yes, Bacon on a stick!! Now, the Minnesotans don’t take themselves too seriously and even like to have a little fun with this “on a stick” obsession. Here is a picture of “Math” on a stick! Very clever!
Sadly, I was hoping to spot Al Franken there but he wasn’t there on the days I went! However, if you want to laugh out loud, read his latest book, Giant of the Senate.
And all of the good times I had at the state fair always make me wish we that the Minn fair was a little closer to home, it is so much fun day or night!
And then it makes me think of the Topsfield fair. When I was a kid, my father used to take me every year! I thought it was huge when I was little and I would always try and talk him into letting me compete to win a baby pig.. he never did, I wonder why. One year, I was playing football with friends before we left for the fair. Once there I started complaining that my foot hurt and asked him if could carry me, he thought I was just being whiny and lazy so I walked through the fair the whole day. Turns out I wasn’t, the next day I was still complaining about my foot so we went to have it looked at. Turns out I walked through the whole Topsfield fair on a broken foot. For once, looking back at it, I am thankful it wasn’t the Minnesota state fair.
Of course he could have pulled me around in one of these all day like I did with Emma a few years back. Pretty good deal for her eh?