Yesterday I spent three or so hours at the Minnesota State Fair. It’s “my” state fair, and as the song from the musical goes, it’s “the best state fair in our state”. Over the last 50 years or so I’ve often been to the Minnesota State Fair. It’s something like a piece of genetic code. When the last 12 days of the month of August arrive, I know that I will, at least once, go to the State Fair.
Plenty of folks share that gene, I know. The State Fair has been attracting people for over 150 years, just a year less than Minnesota has been a state.
Out at the ND farm of my mother, was this postcard from way back:
(click to enlarge)
I’m no high-roller at the Fair: yesterdays total cost was about $26.00, including $5 for bus to the Fair; $8 to get in (senior citizens day); $5 for deep fried veggies; $8 for a cup of Sweet Martha’s Cookies, most of which came home with me. Even for me, this was a cheapskate day. A period of light rain interfered, and some of my usual stops I just passed by. But I’m glad I went. I happened to be near leaving when the daily parade started. It was fairly short, but nice. Several bands, and almost a herd of those gigantic cows advertising this or that.
The real fun of this fair – any fair – is people watching. We’re all odd, in our unique sorts of ways. “Ships passing in the [daylight]” as it were. For the most part, at the Fair, pretense and conventional wisdom is left at the door. Who cares if I’m overweight; who’ll notice that piece of fatty bacon I paid far too much for, and is laden with all sorts of dangerous things, but is oh, sooooo gooooood. For a moment, when I was seeing those gigantic cows being dragged along I thought of as some kind of state fair deity.
Almost exclusively I know the Minnesota State Fair. It is my only point of reference.
But a couple of memorable other State Fairs come to mind.
In the summer of 2007 I happened to be in Minot ND at the time of the North Dakota State Fair. Pretty neat fair, if I do say so myself. The Motel proprietor saw fit to give me a ticket to the grandstand show the evening I was there, featuring a country-western guy I’d never heard of. It was a great show. Every now and then I take a listen to one of his songs, “What Was I Thinking”. Had I not been to the ND State Fair, I never woulda known….
Then there was a time way back in the 1970s when I happened to be in Dallas at the time of the Texas State Fair, I believe it was in October, if memory serves. I had an entire evening to kill between the end of my conference, and catching a bus at about 4 a.m. to go visit my brother and family in Altus Oklahoma.
The Fair itself was quite alright. Very large, different from Minnesota, but that was to be expected.
I went back to the Bus Depot to wait for my bus.
Bus depots, late at night, are not for the faint of heart. This particular night, somebody plopped down beside me, mumbled a little, and seemed to pass out. I thought to myself, probably drunk. Then I looked at his arm, and he was all bloody. Some police came in, and something of a surreal scuffle ensued. Nobody said anything. When the dust settled, I learned that my seat mate had been shot by someone at the Texas State Fair.
It was a relief to get on the bus heading towards Ft. Worth. I struck up a conversation with the couple seated in front of me. They were from Ft Worth, they said, and were on their way home. Why by bus? Their car had been stolen at the Fair.
Ah yes, our State Fair is a great State Fair!