State Fair Romance
With a Morning Show Twist
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Ann Reed joined the Morning Show one day during its live broadcast from the 1999 Minnesota State Fair to sing a song about State Fair Romance, with the help of plenty of listeners ! Here are some of your submissions.
I worked at a sandwich shop in the Grand Stand. He was a ticket-taker and came every day. He kept trying to convince me not to charge him for the milk, guaranteeing that he would visit every day. I never gave into his smooth talk but did let him take me around the fair on the last day. I'd never been on the double ferris wheel and it was such fun. He is the only young man I've ever kissed without knowing his last name.
p.s. We did become friends and wrote often while I was at college. After a long spell of not seeing each other he appeared one night at the Commodore, where I was taking tickets for a jazz band concert. He tried to convince me to let him in for free because we knew each other but I wouldn't! Today I probably would.
My love story may not qualify, but here it is! I moved here from Washington State in 1976, and the first thing I did was join MPR, and been a member ever since. The first summer I went to the State Fair was a new and exciting experience - never been to anything like it before! And as I am jostling along with the huge crowd, hearing all kinds of "Minnesota Nice," my nostrils are absolutely invaded with a heavenly smell. Lo and behold, I look around, (not over, because I am of the short persuasion...) and see a big sign - MARTHA'S COOKIES! It was love at first smell!
I always headed there first at all future visits, after checking out the MPR booth, of course, and had my fill of delicious cookies. A true love affair. And the best part of all is that when my daughter was old enough, she got a job working at Martha's Cookies at the State fair, and when the booth closed at night, she could bring home any broken or extra cookies! What a treat. Alas, now she is off to college, and I am now responsible for continuing this love affair all by my self . . . So, that's my story.
Keep up the great work, Jim Ed and Dale! You are the best!
Jan Heuman, St. Paul, MN
They got together at the Get-Together: The Great Minnesota Get-Together worked just great for Carole Venticinque and Henry Kaldahl. Last year they met as second-shift workers in the tiny State Fair Information Booth near the Grandstand. Eight months later they married.
"Being together 7 hours a day for 12 days in a room the size of a closet is a great compatibility test. We found that we really are," said Henry, 65, a retired postal driver. It's his first marriage. Carole, 54, who works at the Episcopal Church Home in St. Paul, has 3 grown children.
Henry Kaldahl, White Bear Lake
The year was 1942. Norma, age 18, traveled from Northwestern Minnesota's Polk County to give her championship "silent bread baking" demonstration for 4-H. She came with four other girls, all from the 4-H club and all related. At age 20, Ned traveled from Southern Minnesota's Martin County with his championship Jersey heifer and his family's purebred Berkshire hogs.
The fair was long, and Ned struck a deal with a driver of one of the 1935 Chevy open-air passenger buses. He could ride free in exchange for "hawking for customers." It wasn't a hard sell after dark because the drivers would stop at Machinery Hill for the fireworks, and 4-Hers could still get back to the dormitories before curfew.
That August night, the girls got talked into buying a ride. During the fireworks, Ned and Norma exchanged addresses. They say this was their only date. Norma left the next morning. They exchanged letters during Ned's tour of duty with the Marines from 1942 - 1945. They visited each others' families, and married in August of 1946.
Sherry Boyce (daughter-in-law of Ned and Norma)
Not only did Sherry's in-laws find romance at the fair, but she did as well.
We met in 1971 at 4-H Camp at Itasca State Park. Mark was from Parkers Prairie (East Ottertail County) and I was from Nowthen (Anoka County). However, it was the next summer when we were 17 years old and State 4-H Ambassadors that we romanced at the fair.
The State Fair for 4-Hers has much of the drama of a state high school sports tournament or the intensity of being at camp, and as Ambassadors we got to live this intensity for all 10 days (rather than the 3 days that 4-H members get at the fair) and we got to live in the 4-H Building for the entire fair. During the 10 days we were busy with 4-H, but there was time to establish favorite places - the State Fair Carousel, the grocery store in the alley by the poultry barn, how many 4-Hers you could put into a photo booth in the Penny Arcade, and watching the "Knife Guy" in the Horticuture Building. Then there was life within the dormitories and the rush to make it back to the 4-H building by curfew after the grandstand show and fireworks.
We married in 1977 and go to the fair every year. We have family pictures on the state fair merry-go-round and by the tree carving by the Giant Slide. We bought our children their toy tractors on Machinery Hill, and tell them stories about their grandpas' experiences on Machinery Hill. We go on the giant slide with our kids and try to cram all five of us into the photo booth. Our friends share their cabins, we bring them to the fair to see the Butterheads and the Knife Guy.
We love the fair - Hawaiian Shaved Ice, Corn on the Cob, Dippin' Dots, Donuts from the place by Ye Olde Mill, cookies from Martha's, All the Milk You Can Drink, and more.
There is an August morning when the air just feels like state fair, and it is time to pack everyone up and go . . .
Many of my early family memories are about the fair. My mom had a rivalry going with another woman and their bread-baking. She was determined to win. It was a hot August and my mom baked bread every day for about 5 days before entry day. One batch had air holes in the bread, one batch didn't rise until it had been thrown into the garbage, one batch was too brown, and she kept baking.
Finally, the air cooled off just in time to bake a last batch before she had to drive the bread to the fair. One of the two loaves was perfect. My mom was so excited that she danced around the kitchen. I can still see her face as her elbow hit the perfect loaf and it landed in the dishwater. She goes every year to see who won the champion ribbon for bread.
My brother Brian Connelly and his wife Susan Frey Connelly met in 1985 at the Minnesota State Fair. He was working at the Rainbow Ice Cream concession next to the milk stand at the DNR park (no longer there), and she was the nanny for Marta, the daughter of the booth's operators, Max Davis and Greg Tetreault. (Brian and Susan say that looking at the fine young woman Marta has become makes them feel old!) In subsequent years they worked the same booth together at the Fair. They became friends first, and it turned to love. They married in 1992 and now have three wonderful children who love going to the State Fair. And yes they still work every year at the Fair in the Rainbow Ice Cream booth - in the upper level of the Grandstand. The only years they haven't worked at the Fair were the three years they were in Washington State and the summer they traveled in Europe. Besides Rainbow ice cream, Brian's favorite food is Barb's barbecued beef sandwich, and Susan's is the Lebanese pocket pies. They have an annual tradition of going to the photo booth for family pictures, and if Brian and Susan can get away alone, the go for a ride in the Old Mill.
Brian was actually introduced to Susan by Rhonda DeBough Insook, who worked at the Bomb Pop stand that used to be across from where the MPR booth now stands.
This is about a little red-haired girl who was selling peanuts at the fair (working for peanuts too), to help with college expenses. It was in the year 1965. She worked every day from opening (they opened at 6 am back then) until closing. Since she had no car, she took the bus from North Minneapolis to the fair. Going home, she knew the bus didn't run and besides it would be scarier for her. This was because she had to take all of the peanut money up to the top of the grandstand and have it counted before she was given her percentage for her long hot, hard day of work. (Sometimes it would be all of $10 a big deal to her) Taking this hard-earned money on a bus would only invite trouble. So, that first night, she had decided that since it were so late and she would have this money, she asked if her boyfriend would pick her up. The plan was that she would come out the Snelling exit and he would sweep by and pick her up. She waited and waited and he never showed up.
It got later and later, and she held on to her little bag of coins tighter and tighter. Why wasn't he there? What was she going to do? At least a half hour went by, and with tears rolling down her cheeks, she looked out and there he was. He slowly pulled up and she got in, feeling deserted, angry, and scared senseless. Had he forgotten? Had he fallen asleep? Had he been detained? No, not any of the above. The little peanut sales girl had walked out of the wrong exit. He was waiting for her at the Snelling exit and she was standing out by the Hippodrome. After that half hour, he wisely decided to circle the fair grounds. He figured out the mystery as soon as he saw her. All was well. He showed her the correct exit for the next evening and then took her home. She didn't lose her way again. It was true State Fair Love. They continued to stay together, even married. She still works for peanuts (she's a teacher), but she doesn't sell them anymore. She continues going to the fair and both laugh about this every year at fair time.
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