ST. PAUL — This week I had the distinct pleasure of visiting the Minnesota State Fair, the largest state fair in the country by average daily attendance. Before the trip, I had never been to either Minnesota or a state fair; needless to say, I was excited.
The fair is essentially the size of a small town, with a network of streets that sprawl out from the massive Grandstand. It encompasses everything from carnival rides and a “Miracle of Birth Center,” where you can see animals give birth, to lots filled with tractors and cars and a fine-art exhibition. You can find a startling array of foods on a stick: hot dogs, deep-fried cheese, Belgian waffles, alligator. You can buy a jacuzzi and enlist in the Army, watch a bee-keeping demonstration or live butter-sculpture carving. The fair assaults your senses, swinging you back and froth between euphoria and exhaustion. At one point, I found myself sitting in a gazebo in 90-degree heat, digging into honey sunflower ice cream as a marching band rolled by playing songs from Les Misérables. It was the best kind of overwhelming.
I had come for Wednesday’s nighttime Grandstand show, the Walker Art Center’s second Internet Cat Video Festival. That was another experience in itself, one I’ll post about next week. But for three hours beforehand, I wandered around the fair trying to take in as much as possible. Here are some of my photos from the fair that’s aptly nicknamed the “Great Minnesota Get-Together.”
The Minnesota State Fair (1265 Snelling Ave N, St. Paul, Minnesota) continues through Labor Day, Monday, September 2. More information can be found here.