One of the really great things about going to the Minnesota State Fair is the opportunity to watch people. It's not that people are so darn fascinating. It's that you can look at somebody else and be thankful that you are not them. So many people covet what others have. They are envious of a person's house or the neighborhood where somebody else lives. They wish they had that woman's hair or that guy's car or that girl's complexion. Go to the State Fair in Minnesota, though, and you'll feel inherently much better about yourself, by comparison.
There was so much construction going on in Saint Paul that it was difficult to find parking. It's not new home construction. They are tearing up the streets around Como and Snelling to put in Light Rail. At long last, the two cities will be joined by Light Rail. At the moment, the only place Light Rail goes is from the airport to downtown Minneapolis, about 30 minutes of track. But my sister told us to take the back way, go out 280 and use the park-and-ride at Energy Park. This has been a long way from scooting down Como and parking across from the Main Gates.
We all decided to meet at the butter head display, sponsored by Land O'Lakes, inside the Dairy Building. This is where you can meet the contestants and the finalist winner, Princess Kay of the Milky Way. Inside a refrigerated case are 12 butter head carvings in their likeness, each carved from a 90-pound block of butter, a huge honor. The 58th Princess Kay of the Milky Way this year is the beautiful Mary Zahurones, an 18-year-old college kid from central Minnesota. The Princess' favorite dairy product is chocolate chip ice cream.
As with most great get-togethers, there is often a lesson. The lesson that I learned was do not invite 7 other family members to go to the State Fair with you. Eight is not only enough, it is too much. Let's get a pork chop on a stick, you might say. But only 2 others might agree with you. A fourth might prefer sausages, another a foot-long hot dog or a pronto pup, maybe a firedog -- a pickle smothered in cream cheese, dotted with jalapenos and wrapped in pastrami. Oooo, look, funnel cakes. Two people is a Fair number, but with 3, there are no arguments.
Before you know it, with 8 people, several hours have passed and you've only been through one exhibit building. The Minnesota State Fair is big enough that you can get pooped out fighting the crowds and walking around. We made it to the Agriculture Building, in search of the giant pumpkins, by the 3rd hour. This is where saying, Oh, look, honey, that pumpkin looks just like you, could make a guy have to sleep on the sofa. OK, it was totally impossible to do everything there is to do at the State Fair in a group of 8 unless 7 of those 8 were under 2 and being pushed in a stroller, which wasn't happening. To the beer garden.
A consistently popular food stand, apart from the roasted corn, is the milk and cookies, right outside the Grandstand area. Always mobbed. As we returned from Heritage Square, where I gobbled down most of my giant turkey leg, I was thinking about a dessert treat, before going inside the Grandstand. Weezer was the attraction Saturday night. A few people carried paper-cup cones, which held maybe 12 to 13 chocolate chip cookies -- because 2 is just not enough. But many, many people were hauling around these giant 2-quart buckets overflowing with cookies. I felt like going up to one of them, I confided to my niece, Laura, and asking: Hi, may I have a cookie? Adding: You pig! She said they would probably give one to me if I left out the last part. Yup, my niece would make a good real estate agent.