We bought tickets to see Journey at the Minnesota State Fair from my phone on a grassy hill at Claire’s birthday party. This was meant to be our only foray into the “big Minnesota get together,” or whatever folks call it. As you know, we ended up going twice.
For the second trip, we had five goals:
- Eat a steak sandwich (Joel)
- Eat a funnel cake (me)
- Ride the Skyflyer (me)
- Ride the ski lift tram thing (me)
- Get our Journey on with Arnel and those other guys (both)
We accomplished four out of five! No one else was very excited about the sky tram, so we skipped it. Next year I’m going to insist, because it’s one of the only ways to get out of the crowds and relax.
We rode the Skyflyer first and both felt super queasy after. It doesn’t even go that fast! I think it’s the angle at which you’re spinning around, sort of under and over the horizon at the same time. Somehow it seemed right to use these sausages to settle our stomachs, which might seem like an odd choice, but it worked. This sampler included the wild rice with jalapeno and cheese, the Tuscan (with mozzarella) and the Swedish (with potatoes). Maybe it’s another sign that I’m a real Minnesotan now, ’cause the wild rice sausage was my favorite.
The pumpkin pie was so good, we went back to Minneapple Pie and tried the apple. I was expecting the filling to be gooier, and this one was surprisingly dry. Nothing was wrong with it, per se – the apples were tender, the crust/ice cream were still delicious – but the pumpkin pie wins for me by a mile. If my grandma’s pie recipe weren’t so good, I’d consider driving out of the way to go eat it.
Andrew Zimmern’s yearly list of foods to try at the fair took us to the horticulture building, where we got these frozen apple cider pops. There’s nothing in there but fresh apple cider, and it was only $1.25 a pop. That, my friends, is a DEAL. (The Minneapple pies were $6 each with a scoop.) It was perfect on a hot day, and made me crave fall and apple cider donuts.
I am so, so glad we went to the horticulture building, because there was an entire room full of prized dahlias. Dahlias! I didn’t even know how much I loved them until I was in a room of them. Each and every one was simply stunning, but I loved the pink ones with yellow-orange centers the best. If you’re ever sending me flowers (hello, Joel!), please send dahlias.
I’ve never been much into milkshakes, but they’re a favorite of Joel’s and his brother (seen here in his Befuddled Stepmonster debut) was dying to try one of the new fruit flavors. I dunno. They got these at a stand in the side of the cattle barn, which signals that the milk is really fresh. I’m pretty sure it was just Clover out of the gallon jug, and Joel’s vanilla tasted pretty standard to me.
Okay. We need to talk about these Sweet Martha’s cookies. Sure, they are freshly baked on the premises (from dough you can buy at the grocery store). And sure, you can buy a giant tub of them with a handle and carry it around all day eating cookies until you burst. Yes, they serve milk, which is a very good thing. However. People wait in line for these cookies forEVER and they cause major traffic jams. On the first day we went, we passed by this exact same location on our way out of the fairgrounds. The crowd was easily triple, and it took us 15 minutes to get through it.
It’s just cookies, people. Can it really be worth the wait? And, let’s be honest, do people really need to be eating a bucket of cookies? IT’S A GIANT BUCKET. When we passed by after the Journey concert there was still a giant line, and they had run out of buckets. I thought someone was going to set the building on fire in protest, and I’m only sort of kidding.
Joel started planning how we would eat this steak sandwich for dinner before the concert about 10 minutes after we bought the tickets. It’s a pretty good steak sandwich, as these things go. There’s onions, peppers, cheese sauce from a can (I’m just guessing) and a giant pile of meat on a super soft bun. All things considered, I’d rather have eaten another corndog, but only because I can make a better steak sammie at home. I followed this with a roasted corn chaser, but ya’ll have already seen that.
In my opinion, a fair just isn’t a fair without a funnel cake. At the end of the day, they aren’t even that delicious, but I always had them as a kid and I always get them now. Truthfully, this one was sort of mediocre. If Joel’s brother hadn’t helped, we would have thrown half of it away. I’m sure I’ll still get one next year.
We bought the best available tickets for the Journey concert, but didn’t pay attention to the seating chart, so we were all sort of surprised when we got there and walked up and up and up and up to the very last row of the sold-out show. Thank goodness for jumbotrons.
You would think that the view from the top of the grandstand at night would be spectacular, but aside from the marquee itself, it was pretty underwhelming. The grandstand is situated to the side of the midway, so we couldn’t really see the rides at night, and as things started shutting down it was barren beneath our seats.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been a music critic, so about the concert I will only say this: there are a lot of guitar solos in a Journey concert. Depending on your feelings about guitar solos, that’s either a positive or a negative. For me? It was a lot of guitar solos.
The true bummer about the whole evening was that we were unable to see the giant fireworks display at the end of the concert. Our seats were so high that the fireworks were above the roof on the grandstand, and there were so many people between us and the lower levels that we all sat there forlornly craning our necks. At the last moment we ran down and caught the finale, which was cold comfort.
On the way to the car, we stopped for one last cream puff. They had run out of whipped cream right before we got there, so we stood outside the stand and watched them dump gallons of cream into a giant Hobart mixer. If possible, the second cream puff was more creamy than the last, enough cream for a family to share and be satisfied. And that’s what the fair is about, right? Creamy, indulgent, excess. Yum.
*To be clear, we didn’t consume any corn dogs on this day, but the title was too good to pass up. My apologies for getting up your hopes about hot dogs and fried cornbread on a stick.