I’m not entirely sure which of my friends and relatives like the Minnesota State Fair and which don’t. In some cases it is quite clear. If you are my facebook friend, you know that John Funk thinks the State Fair is what Hell would be like, and Stephanie Zvan revels in being a Bad Minnesotan because she does not participate in The Great Minnesotan Get Together (as it is called). If you are NOT my Facebook friend, then click here.
I can fully understand why people would not like the State Fair. In fact, I’m rather surprised that I like it. This is surely the sort of thing that I would not normally like, yet I do. On reflection, the reasons turn out to be rather personal. So, if you don’t want to explore this personal stuff, don’t go below the fold where I tell you what those reasons are.
I don’t think I went to the State Fair the first year I moved to Minnesota, but the second year I lived here I moved to one block away from the fair site, and thereafter it was kinda hard to miss. Julia, who was very little at the time, loved the State Fair mainly because of the kiddie rides, some of which were actually too large for her at the time.
Over the years since then, she and I have returned every year to the Fair, and visited the rides every time. Julia is now a tall lanky teenager taller than all of her relatives except three (me, her step-grandfather, and Amanda’s brother … well, maybe she’s not taller than Amanda yet, but in a few seconds she will be, I’m sure). So, for me, the annual visit to the State Fair has been one of observing her yearly progress of height, physical presence and ability, personal confidence, and adventure-ness as she’s gone from riding some of the kiddy rides to all of the adult rides to becoming bored with everything including the rides.
I remember the first year we went to the big-kids (and adults) ride section, which is way on the opposite side of the fairgrounds from the kiddy rides. We went on one ride, and were looking for a second. Julia was just on the line … you know, that line you have to be taller than to get on the rides … but she was so skinny that from certain angles she was invisible. As we approached one of the rides — a particularly dangerous looking contraption in which the riders were loosely strapped into inadequate chairs and hurled in a giant overhead circle presumably to their untimely death– the man operating the ride looked at Julia, and made eye contact with me, and with a gesture visible only to me clearly indicated that we should just keep walking. So we did.
There were other visits to the fair back in those days, with friends and loved ones, which I’ll remember fondly, but the company was more important than the fair and I don’t think those events had a lot to do with my feelings for the fair now.
But then one day I met Amanda, and our relationship developed over several months during which time Julia was overseas. Julia came back shortly before the fair started that year, and going to the fair together was one of the first things we did as a nascent family. Subsequently we’ve gone every year, and now Amanda has taken part in watching the whole growing up thing.
And, during that first visit, we went on the Crazy Mouse ride, and bought the picture they provide. Every year since then we’ve done the same thing. If we ever want to know how long we’ve been together, we just count the pictures on the shelf. They are not all good pictures. In one, my head is just a glare of light, and in another the car we are riding in is turned almost backwards. Each time the picture was bad, the person who sells them refused to sell it to us. We had to explain the whole thing about how we have a picture from every year, and no, we are not getting back on the damn ride, and so on and so forth, and finally, we get her to sell us the picture.
There are a few other regular things we like to see or do most if not all years. The big slide. The big pig. The butter heads. The ed building, where I coax Amanda to talk to the Gusties even tough she is shy about it, but once she does it she’s there for a half hour. The creationist science posters. The butterfly house. And the Crazy Mouse ride.
I don’t eat food on a stick unless it is in Thai resturant.