A first-timer's trip to the Fairby Tom Weber, Minnesota Public Radio
Falcon Heights, Minn. — It's difficult to go to the Minnesota State Fair and not encounter a political candidate. But, believe it or not, it turns out you can go to the fair and not eat anything on a stick.
That's what I did on Thursday, the opening day of this year's fair.
I had never been to the Minnesota state fair, so I asked Minnesotans for their ideas on what one thing I just had to do as a first-timer.
I met Joe and his mom Laurie around 9:30 in the morning, just after they had finished off a foot-long hot dog.
"I don't do anything else," says Joe. "I don't look at animals, I don't learn anything. I come to eat."
They had a lot of ideas for me. And they all involved food, but surprisingly, nothing on a stick.
"You have to go to the dairy building and get a malt. If you're not doing that, you're not living the fair to the fullest.
"Cheese curds," Joe later exclaimed. "At the mousetrap, in the food building."
The mousetrap isn't the only place selling cheese curds but Joe sold it. They were chewy, but good.
But when I went to the dairy barn to stand in line for a malt, I found two people, one wearing a sash, spinning slowly in a glass tank littered with blocks of butter bigger than your head.
"They have a contest every year, they call it the Princess Kay of the Milky Way - she's like the Dairy Queen," says Steve Kline, of Marshall, helpfully. "And so all the contestants get their face and head carved into a great big block of butter."
Kristy Mussman, 19, of Claremont is this year's Princess Kay and looked as happy as anyone I've ever seen rotating in a refrigerator. Getting the malt was almost an afterthought, but worth it.
Seven-year old Sam Sklar of Plymouth then recommended the giant slide, which was bumpy.
After the slide, I found Linda from St. Paul and her niece Allie, from California, chowing down huge ears of corn. They offered their recommendation.
"You have to see the largest boar," said Allie "It's huge."
Swine barn here we come!
The crowd was too big to see the boar at first, but the sign above points the way. The largest boar is named Squeeky. He's four-and-a-half years old and weighs 1,240 pounds.
The barn sits near all the other barns, but it's also right by Adventure Park, home to the more daring rides. That's where 8-year old Elliot White was watching people board the Sling Shot, which shoots two people straight into the air.
"I'm probably going to be a little frightened but I'm probably going to be excited," he said. After watching two people launch, he seemed even more ready to ride.
After reading the sign that says passengers reach 100 miles per hour, I forked over $25, duct taped my recorder to my shirt, and joined Elliot.
Afterwards, fearing the Sling Shot had done me in, I chose to eat no more food and called it a day.
- Morning Edition, 08/22/2008, 7:24 a.m.