(If you’re new in Minnesota and don’t know what to expect, there’s still time to catch the Great Minnesota Get-Together. Monday, September 5, Labor Day is the last day. Feel free to read over my shoulder to catch a bit of the State Fair flavor. Keep in mind that the experience will be very different for you, unless you’re stick-in-the-mud seniors like we are.)
Dear cousins who defected to Texas,
I’ve googled all around for your 2015 attendance figures, but all I can find are speculations and approximations. (I hope y’all keep better track of your oil and livestock figures). Wikipedia says “the State Fair of Texas considers quantifying its official attendance figures ‘too much of a hassle.'” Yes, I know Wikipedia isn’t an authoritative source, but it looks to be at least as reliable as your attendance figures. Anyway, I’ll be generous and grant you your estimated 3,000,000 attenders in 2015.
Here in Minnesota, somebody does keep attendance records. The 2015 total attendance at the Great Minnesota Get-Together was 1,779,738.
Before you compare those totals and think I’m losing it, answer me this. What was your average daily attendance during the 24 days of the 2015 State Fair of Texas? About 125,000, compared to our daily average of 149, 978 during the 12 days of the Minnesota State Fair. (I’m being precise, instead of saying “approximately 150,000.”)
Here are some highlights from our visit yesterday to the Great Minnesota Get-Together.
We parked at one of the dozens of State Fair Park and Ride lots around the Twin Cities. Free parking. Free bus ride. It’s been 2 or 3 years since my last visit to the fair, so I was surprised when the bus circled to the far side of the fairground, instead of fighting the traffic on Como Avenue. The new Transit Hub is amazing. Lots of ticket windows and entry through one of the white tents into the Transit Plaza, surrounded by those white flags in the background of the photo.
(The next photo was taken in the Transit Plaza at the end of the sunny, hot day. Note the give-away fan. I was wondering if the new name should be “The Great Minnesota Sweat-Together.”)
As we walked, I took special note of the old classic of fair food on a stick–Pronto Pups, that made their first appearance here the year I was born.
Our first visit to the fair, in about 1976, we paid 10 cents a cup for all the milk we could drink. I think this year’s price amounts to a 2000% increase.
Elk Breeders? Who knew?
After we re-oriented ourselves to the new entrance that’s on the opposite side of the fairgrounds from where we’ve always entered before, we walked a big circle. Each of us had a couple of must-see stops. First, we hit the animal barns, and the great (literally) highlight there . . .
Gotta love the built-in eyeshades for a daytime nap.
I didn’t catch a photo of any Jerseys who make me think of my 4-H calves, Princess and Cindy.
We were passing the colosseum just at the right time to see the high-stepping, synchronized draft horse 6-horse hitch competition.
Surely there was a better place for the Honey Candy than this particular exhibition wing of the Horticulture Building.
Then our circle took us on around to the building I was waiting for. For me this is a space filled with beauty and creativity that opens up my soul somehow. I’m sure if you asked my children, they wouldn’t hesitate one second before telling you this was the one place I always wanted to go at the fair, and the one place they didn’t.
Full disclosure: I’ve never attended your State Fair of Texas, so I can’t compare activities. But here are 3 things I’m pretty sure you don’t have in Texas.
1. Butter busts of Princess Kay of the Milky Way and her court, carved as you watch.
2. Paul Bunyan. Who do you have in Texas? Pecos Bill?
4. Goldy, the Minnesota gopher, caught here photobombing our selfie.
Well, Texas cousins, your fair isn’t until the end of September, and ours ends on Labor Day. Ya’ll can come on up sometime to see how we do it in Minnesota and still get back in time for yours!