The Great Minnesota Get-Together, 2014 edition

It’s the end of the summer, and that means state fair time. As the ad says, attendance is practically mandatory, and so we went.

Sky Glider from the ground

We met a friend on the northeast corner of the fairgrounds, so Giggles’ Campfire Grill was our first stop for their new walleye mac-and-cheese. With so many red peppers, it wasn’t my favorite dish, but it would have been pretty bland without it. Lots of other fairgoers apparently like this one.

walleye mac and cheese

We then headed over to the new transit hub to meet up with my sister and her husband. While we were waiting, we walked through the new history and heritage center, an area of the fair that takes on extra meaning for me now that I am an employee of the Minnesota Historical Society. We also walked through the new west end marketplace shops, tried the blueberry basil lemonade at the Blue Barn, and spotted a pop-up puppet show.

pop-up puppet show

I’d never been on the giant slide, but for some reason, this was something I really wanted to do. I’m so glad I did: it was very fast and very fun.

three people on the giant slide

After the activities, we decided to indulge in the new deep-fried buckeyes, my favorite food this year. Very sweet because of the chocolate, peanut butter, powdered sugar, and strawberry jam, but not too much when shared among four people.

deep-fried buckeyes

Up next: the new pretzel curds at O’Gara’s. I was unsure about these before we tried them (why ruin a good cheese curd?), and I wasn’t impressed. Of course, we stopped there at a slow time, so the curds had been sitting for awhile and the cheese wasn’t very melty anymore. Those two items were all I needed for my fried food fix.

pretzel cheese curds

While waiting for the curds, we stumbled across the daily parade and saw the MNHS History Hound.

Minnesota Historical Society's History Hound in the parade

On to the dairy building to see the butter sculptures, then over to the barns. The Miracle of Life building was pretty active, with lots of newly born or hatched babies.

baby animals: piglets, chick, lambs, ducklings

A quick stop at the DNR fish pond, with 45 different types of fish.

a crowd of people looking at the DNR fish pond

For the first time, I had dinner at one of the “sit-down restaurants” at the fair, the Hamline Dining Hall. I liked their new hamloaf sliders, a trendy addition this year to their traditional hamloaf entree. But unfortunately everyone was too full to try their jello salad ice cream.

two hamloaf sandwiches with fried potatoes and a pickle

Last but not least, my favorite building at the fair: the Agriculture Horticulture building (affectionately called the Ag-Hort Building). Of course the giant pumpkin is always a draw, but I enjoy the neatly stacked vegetables and seeds even more.

red potatoes, cases of seeds, cherry tomatoes

I can’t tell any difference between the different corn entries, but it’s always fascinating anyway.

corncobs and mini pumpkins

Minnesota apples: there’s more than just Honeycrisp.

Minnesota apples - SweeTango, Honeycrisp, Paula Red, Haralson, and more

I don’t remember seeing a Christmas tree competition in previous years. It was really fun to walk through and smell all the fir trees. It even felt cool in that room, though I’m sure that was just my imagination.

several different types of fir trees

And my absolute favorite spot at the fair: the honey room. As long as I get a chance to see the pretty ombre rows of honey, my trip to the fair is complete.

rows of honey jars

2014 Minnesota State Fair

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