By Richard Peterson
This is the third and final account of my trip to the Twin Cities to take in the Minnesota State Fair Sept. 3-5.
After spending two days tromping around the fair I awakened at 4 a.m. Saturday and had to kill a couple hours in my room at the Radisson at the Mall of America before checking out.
I hiked half a mile to the Mall of America and took the light rail to the Lake Street Station (75c). From there I caught a bus to Snelling Ave. and had breakfast at a nearby McDonald’s. I had the sausage, egg, McMuffin meal with coffee for $3.54. It wasn’t as good as the previous day’s breakfast, but the price was right. After breakfast I boarded a bus to the Amtrak Station bus stop and checked my backpack for the day. Then I hiked back to the bus stop and headed to the fair.
The first stop was at a stand for an Andouille sausage. This is a very hot and spicy Cajun delicacy and it tickled my taste buds and gave my belly a warm and comforting feeling. Maybe a little too warm because I had to have a 9 a.m. beer to rinse the heat from my mouth.
The Saturday crowd was tremendous. The streets were extremely crowded. I tromped around the fair for awhile and came to the Pet Center building. In this building they sold all kinds of stuff for pets, including leashes, pet food, pet food treats, etc. In one corner there were veterinarians from the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association performing spaying operations on dogs that had been turned in to animal shelters. There was quite a crowd watching this, but not me. I get my jollies in other ways.
I was surprised to stumble into a compound I hadn’t seen before. It was called Heritage Square and there were all sorts of demonstrations going on like blacksmithing and wood carving. They had an old train that people could walk through.
The Minnesota Newspaper Association had a building that housed old printing equipment. This was the type of equipment we used here at the Farmers Press in the 1960’s. They had an operating Linotype machine, a two-page Miehle press and other items that were familiar to me.
The Boundary Waters Boys band from Ely, Minn. played country music and they had a female American Sign Language interpreter signing the lyrics and animatedly dancing the music. It was very entertaining and I watched their entire performance.
I also watched a four person a cappella performance by Tonic Sol-fa.
They even made the sounds of a drum with their mouths. It was fascinating to listen to them in perfect tune and in perfect time.
The Minnesota Flatpicking Guitar and Duet Championships were being held at the fair and I listened to eight contestants. They were awesome in their guitar picking abilities.
Another stage featured Atahualpa, a South American folk group. I watched and listened to them for quite a while.
Who can go to the fair without having a basket of cheese curds? Not me. I had one for $5 and were those good. I also had a Dole pineapple and raspberry non-dairy cone for $3.
There were a number of things I would have liked to eat, but couldn’t because I was too full or they were forbidden by my diabetes. They included scotch eggs (hard boiled egg wrapped in sausage and deep fried), deep fried candy bars, chocolate covered cheesecake, fried fruit on a stick, key lime pie, Demetri’s Greek meat kabobs, deep fried pickles on a stick, pork cheeks on a stick and on and on and on.
There were no mosquitoes at the fair. Guess they couldn’t afford the cost of admission.
At 2 p.m. there was a parade featuring several high school bands and other entries. The most interesting entry was an 8-horse hitch of miniature black horses pulling a wagon. After the parade I just sat in place and watched the unending stream of people walking by.
I can tell you that when it comes to the fair, fat rules. The majority of people were overweight. The majority of people were young. Old folks like me were definitely in the minority. It was fun to see teenagers who thought they were in love and young people who were in love. I was surprised at the number of people of Asian descent in the Twin Cities. There are lots of them.
All these people generate a tremendous quantity of garbage and the garbage trucks had quite the time navigating the streets filled shoulder to shoulder with people.
I spent quite a bit of time listening to a country band, Timber Junction. Members were a guitar player, an old fiddle player (probably older than me), a female bass violin player and an outstanding banjo picker. I really enjoyed their performance.
All good things must come to an end and at about 9 p.m. I pulled the plug on my Minnesota State Fair experience and took the bus to the Amtrak Station. I reclaimed my backpack and sat for a couple hours before the train left at 11:15 p.m. and arrived in Devils Lake at
6:15 a.m., once again on time.
I think I’ll do it again next year.