Today mark the end of Minnesota’s summer.
No, don’t check your calendars for fall equinox or changing leaves from the maple tree outside your window.
The Minnesota State Fair opens its doors today to its tradition of fried everything on-a-stick, John Deere tractors that newly acquired land baron Brett Favre may find tempting, and overpriced midway games and rides for kids and the kids only. Ok, I might plunk down $20 worth of game coupons using a mini-mallet to fling rubber frogs into an oversized lily pad to win a five itch hard plastic replica of Bart Simpson while pleading with the wife that this is a good idea.
Growing up it was traditional to hit up this gaggle of horticulture and ShamWow booths promptly at eight a.m. and stay until the midway lit up the night along with half the people in the crowd who looked like they could hop behind the fence and start barking for the contestant to valiantly try dropping a 12 inch softball into a 13 inch milkjug hole for a stuffed animal that would have to tied down by bungee cord to the roof of the car. It’s the simple frozen cider that used to cost a quarter now a dollar (GET OFF MY LAWN!) that I enjoyed as a kid and one glimpse towards the apple growers booths brings back flashes of my father gnawing on a ham bone sized turkey leg found on Dan Patch Ave. while my mom would wander close to the grandstand for a bucket of Sweet Martha’s cookies to share at the all-you-can-drink milk for a quarter (now a spiteful whole american dollar, again GET. OFF. MY. LAWN.).
Whether my kids grow up to take their family/gang/children to enjoy the freshly made cheese curds while strolling thru the booths in the Grandstand displaying the next SHOWN ON TV kitchen gadget that turned raw chicken into five star chicken cordon bleu with the twist of the patented Photo-Meculizer technology and five minutes in the oven, will be determined in the far off future as keeping the two as young as possible is enjoyable right now.
Yes, the tired pleas come early as their little legs wear out by the time the 4-H exhibits of artwork and perfectly churned butter are reached, but the occasional OH WOW looks on their faces to the food on-a-stick, the sweet smell of cooked pig wafting from the Big Fat Bacon stand, or even the next Billy Mays wannabe dicing up a celery stalk with an edgeless knife in less than three second makes up for the inevitable cries of two kids under six out weary from being in the sun for more than five hours.
It may not be Vegas or Amsterdam, but Minnesota’s carnival of lights and corn make for a little fun before the glacial weather rolls in and the run on snow plows at Home Depot starts.