It's that time of year again, when summer sadly comes to an end, but luckily it never leaves us without an over the top send-off: the Minnesota State Fair. Today is the first day of the get-together, which happens to be the largest 12-day event in North America and the second largest state fair in the country. Each year, nearly 1.8 million people make their way to the grounds to eat food on a stick, people watch, see touring acts on the Grandstand stage and take part in the countless other entertainment options offered. To me, one of the best things about the fair is being able to mix these old traditions with new ones. Here's the scoop on some of the new things to expect this year.
+ The Mighty Midway has seven new rides this year. So whether you want to rotate 360 degrees vertically and horizontally, be flung in a revolving gondala or suspended in a spinning car, there are plenty of new options for adrenaline junkies. For the younger crowd, kids can choose to take a ride on a tractor or be led by a mouse through a parade of flying elephants on the two new rides at Kidway.
+ Also at the Mighty Midway, you can be blasted back to the days of sideshow entertainment at the World of Wonders Palace of Illusions. See sword swallowers, fire breathers, escape artists and more.
+ Explore the state's brewing past and present at the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild. There will be sample flights made up from more than 15 craft beers, as well as presentations by the brewers themselves.
+ Watch colorful, high-powered aerial laser beams move above you to the beat of classic rock and pop hits. Lasertainment's Laser Hitz Show takes place outside nightly.
+ Let's face it, does it get any better then fair food? With more than 450 foods to choose from (including more than 60 on a stick), there's no shortage of options. In addition to favorites like corn on the cobb, Sweet Martha's cookies and cheese curds, here are just some of the many new options to try.
- Bacon ice cream
- Beef tongue caramelos (tacos)
- Breakfast sliders
- Camel burger sliders
- Cereal killer ice cream
- Cheeseburger sticks
- Chicken nachos on a stick
- Cranberry wontons
- Duke's Poutine
- Eggplant fries
- Grilled wild Alaskan salmon sandwich
- Lamb chop on a stick
- Ole's Cannoli
- Red velvet funnel cake
- Risotto poppers (gluten-free)
- Spaghetti sticks
So put on your walking shoes, come well rested and with an empty stomach and say goodbye to summer in an only-in-Minnesota way.
The fair runs Aug. 23 through Sept. 3.
-- Molly Schelper
[Photo by Todd Buchanan]