The smell of fried food, the sounds of polka, and the sight of thousands of people equal a day at the fair. The Minnesota State Fair has been in full effect for over a week now with over one million attendees enjoying the smells, sounds and sights that this historic fair offers. Food and other vendors travel from all over the country to sell at this and other fairs all over the US. Besides just delicious fair food and trinket sellers, the fair draws some pretty big musical entertainment. If you have a love of country music, you are in luck. With acts like Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, and Alan Jackson, the fair will not disappoint you. If you happen to not enjoy country music, you can find yourself wandering the fairgrounds ad running into other smaller artists and tons of other things to entertain your fair driven heart. If you’d rather hear yourself sing instead, then the Giant Sing Along may be for you. And guess what…you can feel just like the stars because there is some sort of crazy technology that autotunes your voice if you suck. And if that’s not enough, you are singing along with a huge number of other people at the same time. It seems like the fair has just about something for everyone so when I had a half day off from work the other day, we thought what better way to spend that half day than at the fair with 104,697 other people…
As it turns out…I may not be a “fair person.” It was hot. It was sweaty. There were many other humans there that I wouldn’t normally want to spend my time with. The big draw for me wasn’t the rides, the animals, the (eh) country and polka music, or even the Giant Sing Along attraction. The draw for me was the food. That’s it. Fair food is (usually) always delicious. So when I heard about a vendor who sells a pail of some of the best cookies ever, I knew I could stand the hour and a half drive to Minnesota to up my sugar intake.
Sounds like an easy task, right? Wrong. It turns out that it is only easy for someone who actually wants to be at the fair. The first struggle was getting to the fair and finding parking. What. A. Nightmare. It appears easy enough to drive to the fair. According the map, it looks like there is plenty of parking. These two things are false. After missing an important turn, we eventually wound up finding a lovely hipster woman who guided us to her lawn for $10. Not a bad price considering all the other greedy, little people in the neighborhood wanted $20. I like the hipster woman; she was very nice….and cheap.
Next was navigating or way into the fairgrounds. Tip: follow the people who look like they’re on a mission. I would call them fair pros. They know exactly what’s up and where to go. Follow them and you’ll get in. Bonus tip: don’t take random things people are trying to give you on the street…you don’t know where that’s been. So, then you get into the fairgrounds and there are thousands upon thousands of people. There were 104,697 people there total the day we went and that was a Tuesday, a “slow” day. It was insane. There were tons of families. The parents looked stressed, kids looked exhausted and for whatever reason, people kept falling over…not drunk people, sober people. It could be the aroma of the deep fried candy bars or maybe they had one too many corn dogs. Seriously. There were corndogs everywhere. Techno beat: corn dog, corn dog, corn dog.
After I passed through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, through the sea of swirly twirly gum drops, and then I walked through the Lincoln Tunnel; the cookies were found. Sweet Martha’s Cookie Jar. Sweet Martha, were they good! If you’ve ever wanted to know what it’s like to eat an almost bottomless pit of sugar and chocolate, then a bucket of these cookies are just what you need. When they pick up the pale to put the cookies in, you may think, “Hey, that is awfully small and $16 for that is preposterous.” But just wait. I don’t know if they go through some special school or training when it comes to stacking cookies, but these workers had magical scoopers that piled the cookies as high as the sky. It was glorious sight. You almost don’t want to eat any of them because the cookie tower is amazing, but then you smell them. They smell like heaven. They smell like the freshest, most chocolatey chip cookie ever. Then you eat one. Yep, you were right, they taste as amazing as they smell. And then you just eat them as if they were a bag of potato chips. One after another, down into your belly they go, and then there’s always more because you’re eat a TOWER of cookies!! My point is, the drive to the fair, the struggle of finding parking, the dealing with other humans and falling humans, was all worth it for the cookies. I didn’t venture out any further than that. I didn’t need to. I was there for just over an hour and the cookies were all I needed. No, seriously, we left after we got the cookies and ate half the bucket.
So, if you are a fair person or really like cookies and corndogs, the Minnesota State Fair could be for you. You still have four more days to check it out; last day is September 7th. If you make a day of it, they have shuttles from various places to get you to the fair so you don’t have to find the nice hipster woman to park on her lawn. If you want to look at a map or the daily schedules just go their website and plan your day away. For whichever reason you may choose to go to the fair, please just do yourself one favor and go to Sweet Martha’s. She’ll make your trip worth it.
by Elaine Coughlin (@airlainey)