Minnesota State Fair

It's common to have mixed feelings each year as the Minnesota State Fair comes around. On one hand, it signals the twilight of summer; soon the BBQs, the evening swims at the lake, and the beers consumed outside on the sunny patio will come to an end as the season winds down. On the other hand, there really isn't a more fitting (or tasty) last hurrah out there. The list of activities and things to try and learn go far beyond the scope of this blurb, but if you're a regular attendee, you probably already know what your Fair favorites are anyway. Lovers of the Mighty Midway can enjoy rides that spin and dip around spray-painted images including Tom Selleck and Britney Spears at their peak. The butter sculptures are always worth a look in the Dairy Building, where you will also find one of the all-you-can-drink milk stands (a true deal at $1). Gardeners will find lots to explore in the Ag-Hort building, where experts will be giving tips and tricks. Animal lovers should check out competitions in the barns (be sure to say "hi" to this year's gigantic boar), and then "coo" at the babies at the Miracle of Birth Center. New this year will be six different rides, including the Windstorm rollercoaster and the Rock-It, a contraption that rotates while spinning (save the fried food and beer for later). Also new is Adventure Park's EuroBobbles, a plastic ball that you climb inside and use to walk through water obstacles, hamster-style. The barns will also be debuting new livestock classes in the chicken and llama categories. Oh yeah, there's also new food. There's a ton, but the ones that catch our eye are the chicken-fried bacon (battered bacon swimming in gravy), the chocolate tornado on a stick (a fried, spiral-cut potato dipped in chocolate), ghost wings (will they be insanely hot? Or Minnesota-nice?), and deep-fried shortcake (the strawberries make it healthy!). The fair is always an intense experience, but you don't want a hangover, so be sure to bring sunscreen, an umbrella, Claritin-D, and antacids. For more info visit www.mnstatefair.org. (Image courtesy of the Minnesota State Fair)
Aug. 26-Sept. 5, 6-midnight; Mon., Sept. 6, 6 a.m.-10 p.m., 2010

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