Minnesota State Fair

Today was state fair day, and it was absolutely ridiculous — everything you could think of in America’s largest state fair was there: endless amusement park rides, games, and arcades; cotton candy and multicolored sweets everywhere; live music and entertainment; the sale of everything from actual trailers (from the extremely basic to the borderline luxurious, but is a “luxury trailer” an oxymoron?) to tall and loud lawn mowers; and of course, the most amusing element to me: all things possible you can think of that are “fried,” “on a stick,” and everything that encompasses both of those lovely terms. The usual culprits were there that people always joke about, things like fried oreos, fried candy bars on a stick (we found out that is the single item that the most caloric food sold at the fair – who would have thought that would be above any of the fried meat items?), and fried Twinkie. But there were even some items I hadn’t even imagined and were even representative of the increasing diversity of the fair attendees: fried baklava, fried alligator on a stick, fried fruit on a stick (I wonder if that was also gluten free?), chocolate covered nut roll on a stick, and fried cheesecake on a stick.

The state fair was really educational — there were a number of exhibit halls where you get to learn about everything from the different local trees grown in the area and what their bark is used for, local honeys and how bees make them, and all the things that make Minnesota unique, such as it being the state with the most active “hybriding” system of creating some of the country’s most popular apples; the honeycrisp apple, which is my absolute favorite apple, is a hybrid of the “people” and “keepsake” apples and was patented in 1988 and released to the public in 1991. Unfortunately for me, it has a short season in September, and so it’s the only time of the year you ever see them at farmers’ markets and grocery stores. To me, it’s the best combination of sweetness, tartness, and crisp and crunchiness. No other apple really compares.

I even learned that the U.S. has a designated “honey princess” every year. I guess based on that name, it’s a bit sexist and can only be filled by a woman. But her role is to travel around the country, educating the masses at schools and state fairs about honey, how it is made, how to cook and eat it, and of course, its health benefits. We watched the 2015 American honey princess today make a quick Greek yogurt/peanut butter/honey dip for apples.

The overall focus on education and the push for local, public Minnesota schools was very clear, as well. It was definitely a fried food and education filled day that brought out the true American in me.