I was dead set against going.
But now I want to go.
The drive is a hassle. I don’t eat enough deep-fried things on a stick to make the journey worthwhile. For those who do, I recommend eating the stick for the fiber. There are too many people there. A joke that’s been around since before 1900, later credited to Yogi Berra, was, “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”
Yogi said he said that, but his wife told him he hadn’t. As a long-married man, I’m astounded that a wife would contradict her loving man. I digress.
There are so many people there, but the odd thing is that I go there for the people.
I will not be borne up on the wings of the State Fair this year. It’s been canceled. Many other options have been removed. I don’t blame anyone for caking things off. I’ll be another sailor weathering a heavy sea without fair weather on the horizon. To some, the best part of the fair was when entering the gate. To others, the best was when leaving the gate. A few consider it a gas station restroom with livestock, but to most, it’s terrific. The Minnesota State Fair is “The Great Minnesota Get-Together,” except this year. It’s the largest state fair in the U.S. by average daily attendance. Two million fairgoers stagger the grounds trying to find either an antacid stand or more room in their stomach while trying to remember where they’d parked their cars.
I like the fair. It gives me plenty to like. I want to turn off the world and turn it back on again. Maybe rebooting would return things to normal. Whatever normal is.
I never say “ain’t.” My teachers saw to that, but it seemed right here. It’s unfair, but the fair ain’t what it ain’t. The Hall of Fame pitcher Dizzy Dean became a broadcaster and irritated some by saying “ain’t” frequently. He responded with, “A lot of folks who ain’t sayin’ ‘ain’t,’ ain’t eatin’.”
There aren’t many Minnesotans who don’t enjoy a Sweet Martha’s cookie. We used to hold an annual meeting in a telephone booth. We stopped when we couldn’t find a phone booth. I’ve nothing against Sweet Martha. I don’t like any kind of chocolate chip cookie. It’s one of a multitude of my character flaws. I don’t feel guilty as Sweet Martha does OK without my business. Another reason I don’t care for Sweet Martha’s Cookies is that I’m not that fond of standing in line. Oh, I’ve stood forever in a queue at the State Fair to buy chocolate-covered potato chips for my mother-in-law, but that’s different. Sweet Martha’s is popular beyond belief. Sweet Martha’s sells a million cookies each day at the Fair. That sounds like a lot, but remember there are three locations on the fairgrounds. The enterprise goes through 54 tons of chocolate chips each year at the Fair. Sweet Martha’s Cookies grosses $4.73 million a year. For $17 you get a pail of four dozen cookies. Sweet Martha’s is a fine Minnesota business. The Minnesota State Fair is the only fair it can be found at and it employs a plethora of people. For those who need Sweet Martha’s Cookies, the cookie dough can be found in grocery stores. But we don’t need the fair pounds. We have sheltering-at-home pounds.
It’s always uphill leaving the fair. Exhaustion makes me feel as if I’m climbing the high points in the township. I call them the Funny Mountains because they’re hill areas.
I’ve worked at the State Fair many times; including a record-setting attendance day, which has since been surpassed. I’ve walked the grounds on muggy days, feeling like a walking compost pile. There are too many people there. Yet, I go for the people. It’s fun seeing old friends, meeting new folks and people watching.
Nothing against the State Fair, but I prefer to spend my time at county fairs. I’ve been everything from a superintendent to a storyteller to a volunteer to a chainsaw juggler at fairs. I didn’t really juggle chainsaws. I juggled popcorn boxes and blueberry malts. Small-town celebrations are wonderful. When I was twitterpated teen, I referred to them as “two sick chickens and a tractor that won’t start.” That was said in jest. I loved those gatherings and still do. Sadly, most of them have been canceled.
I recall a memorable day of B.B. King and Etta James in concert at the State Fair grandstand.
This year, the grandstand will be a home stand.