Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Great Minnesota Get-Together

I consider myself a Minnesotan. I was born in Iowa, but my family moved north when I was four, and considering the total number of years I've lived here, and the classy Minnesota accent I've acquired due to being raised here, I'd say I'm pretty darn close to authentic.

{Only exception: GO HAWKEYES!}

But here's the difference between myself (the not 100% Minnesotan) and the true blue, down to the core, blood runs deep Minnesotan - I've only been to the Minnesota State Fair (a.k.a. "The Great Minnesota Get-Together") a grand total of maybe four times. If you're for real, you've gone every single year you've been alive. And perhaps even more than once each year.

It was never something my family did as I grew up, and I think the first time I went was when I was in junior high when I was invited by a friend and her family. The last time I went was five or six years ago when Brad and I still lived in Eagan. Brad had gotten free admission tickets, and we went for the cheese curds, and that's about it.

Being back in Minnesota now, though, and arriving at just the right time for the fair, it was like a little deep-fried, sugar-coated flame fired up in me and I had to go. Cheese curds, funnel cakes, pronto pups...yes, yes, and YES! Convincing Brad to go, however, was not gonna happen. Thank goodness for a willing father, a four-year-old who gets dragged along, and a brother who can be bribed by his cute nephew and grilled sweet corn --- watch out hips, we're goin' to the fair!

We headed up to Snelling Avenue yesterday morning and after picking up Justin and making our way to the fairgrounds via a shuttle bus, we made our first stop at the Pronto Pup stand. It may have only been 10:15, but we weren't going to be there all day and we had some serious fair food to consume!

Although he looks adverse to the pup, Drew did try it. And liked it.
(By the way, our food strategy was to buy one of what we wanted and share it amongst ourselves. Save money, avoid getting uncomfortably stuffed, have more room to try more!)

I tried to scope out the fair's schedule to see what we could do/see that Drew would like. I knew it would be a bit of challenge to keep his interest in *free* things when he'd see the kid rides and want to spend his college tuition to ride them. Thankfully, there were a few features for us to see to keep Drew reasonably happy.

One such act was juggler Greg Frisbee. Here's his grand finale: juggling knives with burning hands while balancing on a rolling board.
{Interesting factoid: Brad and I saw this same guy when we vacationed in San Francisco almost two years ago. See?}

Drew seems impressed. :)

Then we headed over to Machinery Hill where Drew test "drove" some serious John Deere goodness. (In the last several months he's taken up an interest in tractors, construction vehicles, and other such machinery.)

Then he tried one on that was a bit more his size at the Little Farm Hands Learning Experience...where he also got to "feed" the hens, "groom" the sheep...

..."plant" seed and pick the vegetation, "milk" the cows, pick apples from the orchard...

...then place all the goods he collected at the farmer's market.
It was pretty cool for this very non-agricultured mom. :)

CHEESE CURDS! while we waited for the Dog Works agility performance. When it was done, Drew was still hungry. This would've been when I would've broken the let's-share-everything rule and gone back for my own serving of cheese curds. But I resisted. How about a funnel cake instead? OKAY!

Drew really, really, really wanted to ride the Skyline, and it was worth the $14.00 for the four of us to ride it for two reasons: 1) it made Drew very, very happy, and 2) we didn't have to walk to the other side of the park. Practicality wins again.

We hit up the animal barns last, and we walked into the Miracle of Birth Center two minutes too late - we had just missed a baby calf being born! Literally. The placenta hadn't been delivered yet. And there were piglets being born at the same time. So, no super-exciting action for us there, but we did get to pet some day old calves and kids (as in baby goats, not humans).

As we exited the dairy barn, we picked up our last treat of the day: ice cream!

Drew was a trooper the entire day. We left the fair around 3:30, so didn't spend a great deal of time there, but with all the walking and all the people, Drew faired well. Yes, there was whining. Yes, there was pouting. Yes, there was even a short-lived moment of tears.

But it worked.

He slept all the way home. And upon telling Brad, Grammy and Reed all about his day, he says the best part was the ice cream.

My favorite part? Feeling like I'm home.

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