Sunday, August 28, 2011

Visiting the Great Minnesota Get Together (part 2 of our late summer vacation)

Really, nothing says "the Minnesota State Fair" like a kid holding a giant blow-up cow, does it?

Mouse won this right off the bat, not twenty minutes in. We went to something called "Little Farmhands" (sponsored by Kemps: "It's the Cows!") where little kids get to pretend to be farmers. This consists of "planting" plastic seeds, "feeding" plastic seeds to plastic cows and hens, and "harvesting" plastic eggs, apples, and milk, which is then redeemed for "real" food wrapped in real plastic at the end of the exhibit. Well, the first thing that happens is they get a temporary "tattoo" on their arm. Well, Mouse's tattoo was one of a handful of lucky winners, because the lady who picked it out got all excited and said, "Hey, you won a cow!" and headed over to this big fenced-in area full of mournful-looking plastic cows.

Remember how I spent a week getting rid of half the kids' toys earlier in the summer? If so, you know how happy I was to hear that. I had forgotten the downside of the state fair -- all the junk they give you to cart home and throw away in your garbage. But, Mouse was "proud" to have won, and obviously very happy with "Bessie," so I carted her back to the car.

Mudpuppy navigates the farm, with Bear's help.

The Minnesota State Fair is one of the largest fairs in the country, and it has the highest average daily attendance of any fair in the country. having experienced both of these facts on previous trips, I spent several hours mapping our strategy the day before. That helped, somewhat, but we still experienced the "bigness" of the fair mid-afternoon as we struggled through the massive crowds on the south side of the fair.

Besides the Little Farm Hands, we saw a dog training show, a horse show ("Boring," opined Bear, although the girls liked it), and had real ice cream in the dairy barn -- probably the best soft-serve ice cream I have ever tasted anywhere, hands down. And it's relatively cheap, too, in fair terms, which means there is a massive line for it -- but fortunately, it only takes ten minutes to get through the line, since they have a well-oiled, well-staffed operation.

Sadly, we missed out on the stuff on a stick, and the deep-fried everything. I did have my eye on some deep-fried pie, and would've stopped for some if we hadn't been so harried at the time.

What else? The girls did the "Kidway" amusement rides, with mixed results. Definitely not the adults' favorite part of the fair, but there you go. Bear saw a high school robotics competition, and a high-flying trampoline act that was definitely impressive.

 Probably one of the highlights for us adults was the Great Minnesota Sing-Along. They basically set up a big karaoke screen, with a bunch of microphones on poles at different heights for anyone to sing in front of. The nice thing is you can sing along without getting up on a stage or something. Here's a short video. Sadly, our kids didn't know the tune, or they'd have sung along better, I think:

At the end of the day, I asked Starling to rate this trip to the fair on a scale of one to ten -- as in, "Gee, that was so much fun, I can't wait to go back to the fair next year!" (a rating of "1") to "If I don't see another pronto pup stand in ten years, it will be too soon" (a rating of "10"). She rated it a "2," so I guess we will be back to the fair in 2013. And then maybe I can have that deep-fried pie.