Let's Go to the Minnesota State Fair!

Now that I'm back living in Minnesota, I was looking forward to seeing the Minnesota State Fair again.


Why you might ask? After all, such an event would seemingly contradict everything I endorse. I hate large crowds, I hate being outside, I hate commerce, I hate the public... Yeah well, when it's all thrown together into one gigantic spectacle, you almost have to experience it in person. You simply can't get better people watching anywhere else!

And that is something I oddly enjoy... Once a year at most... 

There's a line in Kevin Smith's first movie (Clerks) that resonates with my opinions on the subject...

Dante: "You hate people!"

Randall: "But I love gatherings... Isn't it ironic?"

Well, I kinda do...


Attending the fair has been something I typically did every Summer that I lived in Minnesota, and missed it during all the years that I didn't, the 2018 fair was a must on my to do list. Research purposes! I've been planning on writing a Minnesota State Fair story to appear in Wasted Quarter for over 20 years now.


In 1996, I started working on a story for WQ issue 28, but that didn't get beyond several notes. 


I simply ran out of time and moved out of state, so the State Fair story was put on hold.


Until 2004, when another attempt was made to write that story for WQ issue 56, Wonder What Wendall Wanted? Which is still one of my favorite titles I've come up with...


Although it's no Burn Your Candle Apple Pants...

This time around, I had several notes and completed thoughts, and even a couple of images set aside for it. But it was no where near enough to tell the story I wanted. So I scrapped all of it for a later date.

With my visit to the 2018 Minnesota State Fair, I could get all the pictures that I've been missing and a new perspective on writing that long elusive story! So let's go! 


This postcard showing an aerial view of the fairgrounds is from the 1960's or 70's. I'm not really sure what year. But it shows a good representation of how the land was used back then.


This map is from 2018, and a lot has changed, just as a lot has stayed the same... I'll cover some of the changes and similarities as we go along...

Something that hasn't changed is the sheer numbers of people attending the fair. I can't speak for every year, but in 2018 the lowest daily attendance was still well above 100,000 people. Over 128,000 came to the fair on the day Laura and I did. On the weekends, that number has reached 200,000 people with regularity.


This isn't my photo, it's one I found on the internet that shows just how insanely crowded the Minnesota State Fair can get. I'm assuming it was taken on a weekend. I'll never come here on a weekend...


Needless to say, you don't want to be driving in that kind of chaos, regardless of what day of the week it is. Metro Transit runs shuttle busses from all over the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area. We chose to catch the shuttle from the park and ride at 95th Avenue and I-35.


Here is Laura on the State Fair shuttle bus. My favorite part of this picture is the glare from the nameless stranger looking at Laura. Both bitchy and blank...


Looking westward out the bus window at the Minneapolis skyline. The weird looking boat shaped thing on the left of downtown is the hideously ugly Vikings stadium.


Busses approach the fairgrounds from the southwest, by the vendor and exhibitor parking lots. You can see the Lee & Rose Warner Coliseum in the distance. The coliseum is where cattle shows and rodeos take place, with oddball venders selling weird stuff around the perimeter.


The shuttle busses drop you off on the west side of the fairgrounds next to the Grandstand. This area is new from my last visit in 2004. Back then, those shuttle busses dropped you off on the south edge of the fairgrounds along Como Avenue, at the Loop Gate. Where you would cross a pedestrian bridge over the road and into the fair. Right next to the coliseum.


12 Days of Fun, ending Labor Day... 

For my entire Minnesota life, the State Fair was the symbolic ending of Summer. When I was a kid, school restarted the morning after Labor Day.

That day sucked...


I don't remember what we paid to get in this year. But in 1996 it was $5, and in 2004 it was $9. Discount tickets are available at your local Cub Foods grocery stores, but we didn't do that either... Full price it is!


Just inside the newer entrance gates is a sort of courtyard with flowers and benches and people wandering aimlessly. Lotsa confused cell phone zombies too...


On the outskirts sits an official Minnesota State Fair sponsored vendor, selling shirts, hats and anything else they can affix an official Minnesota State Fair logo to...


And coupon books! Full of discounts on the incredibly expensive merchandise and food found all over the grounds.


Though we will be covering it much later, the Midway was one of the main attractions for me this year. While I had zero interest in any of the rides or games, I really wanted pictures of the bright lights of the Midway after the sun set. I'd heard the State Fair had cleaned up the Midway in recent years, it wasn't going to be as scummy as it had been in the past.

But I liked that sort of scummy...


Before we ventured too far into the grounds, I wanted to snap a picture of the old Grandstand from this vantage point.


6 years ago, the east and west side stands were demolished (as this picture I stole from the Star Tribune shows). Under the seating area, vendors would run booths selling all kinds of crazy crap that you don't need. But it was all interesting to look at. This still took place under the main stands, but I didn't have time to run through there this year.

A main attraction during the fair used to be stock car races that ran on an oval dirt track inside the grandstand. They were discontinued years ago. I remember the sound of the races being obnoxiously loud as a kid, and don't miss hearing that now...


Now we enter the Fair proper. Walking along Ligget Street, towards Dan Patch Avenue. We arrived just before 6pm (I had to work that day, so we didn't have a great deal of time), so more people were leaving the fair than arriving when we did.

And that's a good thing!


Here's a wooden train with flowers for passengers! NEAT!!!


The Minnesota State Fair provides an interesting barometer of whatever is popular in the form of what kind of florescent plush and inflatable merchandise is for sale at each merchant booth... 2018 seems to be a big year for aliens, unicorns and poop emoji's...


Here is the west end of the Skyride. Where for however many dollars it is, you can ride a rickety and wobbly brightly colored pod across the fair. If you are claustrophobic or have a fear of heights, these things really suck!


Even if you get to ride in the rare cow themed pod...


The corner of Dan Patch and Ligget features some of the oldest and most disgusting restrooms on the fairgrounds. I didn't relieve myself here this year, but in the past it has always been very disgusting inside.

And to the women in the supa-tight jeans staring at me, I was taking a picture of the toilets, not you. You just happened to get in my way... Which goes for anyone that happened to look directly at me while I was lining up a shot. Simply too many people around to take a clear shot of anything...

My apologies. 


If you've never been to the Minnesota State Fair before, there's a lot of food booths on site. Like a ridiculous amount of them. On every block there are literally hundreds of eating options. Like Pitchfork Sausage right here!


Or Mexican Hat!

In addition to lotsa food, most major Twin Cities media outlets have a presence at the fair. 1500AM ESPN Radio lives at the corner of Dan Patch and Chambers...


Right next door to KSTP Channel 5 booth. Which these days features a small section of raised benches for seating. I'm guessing they do some live broadcasts from the fair, and these stands allow hundreds of people to wave at the camera like idiots.


Years ago, these stands weren't here. KSTP was a just a walk through booth with exhibits about the news (and usually weather). You could get a free plastic tote bag with locking plastic handles inside. One year, I got this refrigerator magnet...


Super Dog! Where you can get a Dog on a Stick... The whole "On A Stick" gimmick is a State Fair tradition and pretty much an in-joke. Nearly half of every food sold at the fair is available on a stick. Which provides a convenient ease of eating while slowly walking. And getting in the way of those walking while not eating...


Sweet Martha's Cookie Jar sells really tasty cookies in a small bucket, but not on a stick. Her cookies are delicious, but unbelievably overpriced. I think a bucket of Sweet Martha's cookies was $17 this year... $17 and they don't even have weed in them...


At the intersection of Chambers and Carnes, sits a block long building that is the home of Andy's Grille on the northeast side. The whole building is filled with food vendors, but Andy's is the largest. I've never met anyone at Andy's, nor have I eaten Andy's offerings...


Across the street from Andy's is a Coke booth that is really lame. It's filled with Coke vending machines. Where you can get a 20oz bottle of Coke for the low low price of $4... What a deal! Behind the great Coke rip-off is one of many (About a) Foot Long Hot Dog stands. More on that in a moment...


Some 30 years ago, the Minnesota State Fair switched their beverage cups to these standard recyclable plastic/styrofoam hybrids. This particular cup has sat in the Archive since the late 1980's, and I still have it today... I love that old state fair logo...


Tradition dictates that upon every visit I make to the Minnesota State Fair, the first food eaten always comes from one of the (About a) Foot Long Hot Dog stands. That's one big and tasty wiener, lined with grilled onions. Sure it's $6, but it's the law. At least as far as I'm concerned...


Of course, I could have just gone with Pizza on a Stick, with a side of Dough Balls...


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Hello Kitty and Sponge Bob are still a thing I guess. But the giant inflatable bottles of Sirarcha are a head scratcher...


The newer and cleaner restrooms, next to the DNR building are drawing quite the crowd...


At the base of the ramp leading to the second level of the grandstand, sits the Star Tribune building. Here you can pick up a handy fairgrounds map, much like the one I keep referencing at the beginning of this story. They will even give you a copy of today's newspaper if you feel the need to carry one around with you all day...


Years back, I used to do the Spin-A-Painting on each fair visit. Though I didn't like to use color. I made some really nice pictures using only the black and white paint. Occasionally I would add a touch of blue if I was feeling up to it... While I could have sworn I kept one of these paintings in the archives, I could not find it when I looked. Which sucks because I really should have kept some of them. I also regret not making a new one this year...


I just liked the plastic Dole Whip Cone on the roof...


Corn Dogs! Hand dipped, on a stick (of course...).


WCCO's representative at the fair... The Minneapolis' CBS affiliate also broadcasts here at several times throughout the fair.


Here is a better shot of that building about 5 hours later...


Just Cotton Candy... Nothing to see here...


The concept of Luigi Fries has confounded me since I first played Mario Brothers... And I'm sorry for irritating the woman in the mustard shirt by taking a picture of it...


Eating options abound at the intersection of Nelson and Carnes...


The Playland Video Arcade has transitioned to fewer video games and more crap like skill cranes and giant Connect Four... I didn't even bother going inside this year. That green facade is new. The Playland used to feature a bunch of multi-colored neon arrows along with the neon Playland sign. Which was much better...


Here it is in the dark...


Monty's Travelling Reptile Show has travelled to the Minnesota State Fair for years. I've always looked at it from the outside, but never once on the inside...


The Twin Cities' NBC affiliate, KARE 11, has moved from their prior location around the block to this barn. Their old location facing Judson Avenue used to draw a huge crowd during live newscasts from the building's roof. This barn isn't set up for something similar, so recent fairgoer's are shut out of that experience...


I would have expected the Libertarian Party to have a larger representation at the Minnesota State Fair, than just this small one man booth along Nelson Street. Found it curious that in the current political climate, they are promoting the legalization of Marijuana as the cause to bring people in...


Anyone need a free copy of the Outdoor News?


Looking east on Judson Avenue. 

Even for a Wednesday evening, there were still a lot of people at the fair...


The River Raft Ride opened in the late 1980's to great fan fair (pun intended). When it first became an option to fairgoers, the line was often over an hour long. They did a good job on putting it together. No matter where you sat in the circular raft, you were going to get wet. And on a humid 90+ degree day, it was welcome relief. I see that tickets are now $5. That's not a whole lot more than it was 30 years ago when it debut...


Laura wanted to make a stop at the Minnesota State Lottery tent at the fair. They were running some kind of promotion that I can't remember. While she waited in line, I stood on the street corner and snapped a few fair pictures of the crowds.


Looking westward down Judson Avenue, towards where the various livestock barns are located. With the Lee & Rose Warner Coliseum front and center, behind the trees. We didn't walk down that way, but if there would have been time, I was looking forward to doing so. I'd wanted to shoot pictures of the animals and farm related oddities that may have made fascinating images for use later...


I did not take this picture, but found it online while doing my Minnesota State Fair research. It speaks for itself...


Also didn't take this picture of monstrous pig nads... This came from my friend Benno, who took the photo in the mid 1990's and later donated it to the Wasted Quarter cause.


Which then became the cover of Wasted Quarter issue #37!


The Minnesota State Fair of course has no shortage of bad word play on display...


Where you can smell the fresh Dairy Air! 

(I'm so funny!)


The Minnesota State Fair Haunted House, at the corner of Judson and Underwood, used to be painted grey and black. Now it's purple and grey. Hopefully the "haunted" experience has also been upgraded from just walking through dark hallways with scattered strobe lights and college kids in costumes that jump out of dark corners... Come on... Put some effort into it! Shock value of sudden surprise isn't on the same level as haunted and scary...


Not to be confused with Monty's Travelling Reptile Show is Bob's Snake Zoo... Which has been here almost as long. One year I did plunk down my $2 to see the snakes. They were snakes. Not scary, kinda cool, but once you've seen them, you don't need to see them again. Though I'm a big fan of the scarf wearing bat cartoon, next to the couple eating a tub of French Fries... I may have to get some of those later...

French fries. Not a scarf wearing bat. Though it would be pretty cool!


Laura wanted to ride the Space Needle, to snap a few pictures of the fairgrounds from a higher vantage point. I opted to keep my feet on the ground, and do some more sight seeing in that area while she went up...


I'm sure the views were incredible from up there, it's just a little higher than I'd like to get. 

(Literally, not figuratively...)


Directly east of the space needle is the fairgrounds administration building. Featuring a very old school fairgrounds sign. Nice to see this one has survived, most have been replaced over the years...


Here is the Administration Building, in all it's dated architectural glory!


North of the needle was the fairgrounds talent show. Yeah, this kid was a good pianist, but I couldn't even be bothered to take a picture that was in focus.

Heheheheheh... Good Pianist...


West of the needle was the Agriculture building. Filled with displays of flowers and award wining fruits and vegetables. I usually look around in here, but skipped it this time. Standing in the way was the Skyride's east terminal.


I opted to instead walk around the Food Building, with the Gass Station on the corner. The extra S is for Sass!

Or Sugar... 

Or Saturated Fats... 

Or Salmonella...


You'd think with all the controversy stemming from illegal elephant poaching for their ivory tusks, you wouldn't be so nonchalant about just cutting off their ears, deep frying them and serving them to Minnesotans. The cost of importing said ears to the land-locked midwest has to be extraordinary!


Ah yes, the entrance to The Food Building... Good thing I found it! We've been here for two hours and haven't seen a single thing to eat at the entire fair!

Let's go inside!


Walleye on a stick... Can't get much more Minnesotan than that!


Lamb on a stick? That's not as Minnesotan...


Spaghetti & Meatballs on a stick?! Come on, this is just getting stupid...


That's enough of the food building. And right as you get back outside, you can have dessert!


Next to the ice cream booth was a booth selling Ribbon Fries, smothered in different flavors of goo. Not on a stick though... And that picture doesn't look very appetizing.


With all the different colors of neon at this stand, I would have liked an evening picture to get the full effects of the colored lights in the dark. But I took enough of those type pictures, which you'll see if you continue reading!


With all of these high calorie foods readily available, it looks like Brian Dozier has indulged in too much and packed on a few pounds...

Wait! The Twins had already traded Dozier to the Los Angeles Dodgers by fair time... This man is an impostor! SECURITY!!!


After Laura was done riding the needle, we walked down Cosgrove Street, past the Libby Conference Center, on our way to the second administration building, cleverly named...


Admin Too!


Which had a designated smokers corner out front. Marked by a statue of Snoopy sleeping on a doghouse, painted to look like a city-scape... Maybe he died from second hand smoke and his corpse had been tagged by some St. Paul ruffians? Well all right then!


The Admin Too building was the home to some more of the Minnesota State Fair restrooms. Laura needed to use the facilities, giving me way too much time to wander around taking more pictures...


Like of the inside of the main Minnesota State Fair entrance gate at Dan Patch Avenue and Cosgrove. With the Creative Activities building next door. I also didn't get into that place. Which I regret because there is usually some interesting collections of art that Minnesotans submitted for ribbon judging. Next year...


The outside of the Minnesota State Fair main entrance gate, at Dan Patch and Snelling. Some 35 years ago, the MTC shuttle busses dropped patrons off at this gate. That would be a traffic nightmare now, so it doesn't happen. But I have distinct memories of this happening when I was in the single digits of age...


Looking across Snelling Avenue, where the fair has spilled out into the surrounding neighborhood. I wonder if the food vendors are cheaper outside the gate?


Yup... That's what's going on here...


And what's this? An abandoned building undergoing demolition prep! I went into today with zero expectations of finding something cool like this former office building on the southeast corner of Snelling and Minnesota State Fair entrance gate!


An even rarer site at the fair, a completely empty four sided picnic table! I chose to sit here for a few minutes and continue waiting for Laura, who was taking forever to emerge from Admin Too!


Next to that picnic table was a sign showing the roster of musical guests that would be appearing at the Minnesota State Fair's Grandstand. Tonight's special guest was Old Dominion. I did not care. However, I was amused to see that Friday night, 311 and The Offspring were playing here. Days earlier I had wondered whatever happened to The Offspring. I think it's been since 1994 that I remember them having a career...


Hey! There's the Stillwater Trolley! Which has apparently jumped it's tracks some 30 or so miles to the south to drive around the fairgrounds. That guy in the green shirt is going to lose his arm if he's not careful...


A quick look north up Cosgrove street.

And hey, Laura's back!


She wants to walk across the street to O'Gara's at the Fair. An Irish theme pub that sold her some sort of deep fried corned beef and cabbage balls. I chose to not partake in them.


We sat on an adjacent bench while she ate them. I chose to look down Dan Patch at the area buildings, like the Farmer's Union, which I didn't look at any closer.


However, I spent a great deal of time watching this guy in the blue shorts. He was my favorite guy at the fair as far as people watching goes... I doubt he was trying, but he pulled off an impressive impression of Nick Swardson's Terry character from Reno 911, for the entire time he was standing in front of us. It was so spot on that I not only wondered where his roller skates were, but if he was going to be giving $3 handy's behind the taco stand later on in the evening...


Tacos! Tacos! Tacos!


West of O'Gara's is the Merchandise Mart building. Again, I did not go inside to see what kind of weird inventions and products were for sale this year.

But the building has a great deal of significance to me...


For years (so long ago, Dan Patch Avenue was named Commonwealth Ave back then) the Merchandise Mart building held the State Fairgrounds Card Show, twice a year. This was always one of the biggest card shows for Twin Cities collectors, and was one I typically saved my money for.


In 1993, they brought in baseball legend Hank Aaron to sign autographs for people. This was back when card show appearances weren't a massive price to meet the biggest names. I think Aaron signed baseballs for $20 a piece back then. And he was given the time to acknowledge those who came to see him.


Still to this day, one of my most prized autographed baseballs. 


After eating breaded corned beef balls, and dropping a couple of them on the ground, Laura and I continued west down Cosgrove Street. Past the Culligan Water building, which has been here as long as I can remember. They must make bank on their hard sell of soft water...


Decent line for ice cream and other frozen stuff between the Creative Activities and Education buildings...


More great architecture from decades ago touting education. I would have liked to have wandered through these buildings, but we were running short of time and daylight at this point...


Next door to Education is the 4 H building, touting future farmers of America. I had to look up what the 4 H's were because I didn't remember. If you're keeping score at home, it's: Head, Heart, Hands and Health. Now you know... And so do I!


The Fine Arts Center sits next door to all the H's, with the majority of the building housing the National Guard's display. While not exactly a fine art, I guess their H would be Helping?


I didn't stop here either, but I have to appreciate this vendors' sense of humor regarding their present location. Also like the dejected looking bearded guy walking out with no stick. And no math as far as I can tell...


Daylight was fading fast as we walked by the Hot Apple Dumplings booth, good thing the contrast can be easily adjusted digitally!


Rounding the corner onto Randall Street, you will find the cleverly named "Great Big Wheel". Which has been moved from the entrance to the Midway since my last Minnesota State Fair visit. As I mentioned, it was quickly getting too dark for my regular digital camera to take decent pictures, so I stood here for a while testing out different settings, using the clouds and wheel as my backdrop.

Thanks to the magic of Photoshop, I took some great pictures tonight!


Hanging a quick right onto Cooper Street, I found this little John Deere lawn tractor dealer. Now known as "Little Farm Hands", this whole area covered several blocks and used to be called Machinery Hill. Home to all the various farm equipment companies showing off gigantic tractors and combines. Back when we did the Minnesota State Fair as a family outing, I dreaded all the time my dad would spend looking at this stuff which I found very boring. Now it seems like it's just missing, as the farm presence at the fair has been drastically reduced.


Quick! Act innocent and stuff!


The Campfire Grill (and all those beer kegs) sits on the corner of Cooper Street and Lee Avenue. I mainly just wanted a picture of the car and canoe...


With well over a million people visiting the Minnesota State Fair every year, the large amount of people in a very small place, makes the fairgrounds the third largest "city" in Minnesota on any given day. The great influx of people during fair time means the grounds needs it's own water tower just to meet the public's demands.


Now at the north end of the fairgrounds, we turn left at Murphy Ave and walk west. Ignoring the ice cream floats, gourmet nut factory and temporary tattoos along the way...


And the gourmet coffees, hot dogs and hamburgers as well. I've noticed a real lack of foods on a stick on the north end of the fair. Perhaps none of the booths thought they could top "Math on a Stick", so why bother...


We barely made it it our planned destination before the doors closed on the tent for the night. That would be the Minnesota State Fair Pet Pavilions, at the corner of Murphy and Underwood Street. While we weren't worried about living pee free, Laura had some coupons for big savings on cat toys from the cat toy selling booth (I don't remember what the name of it was).


Gracie was very happy with her new curly ribbon (on a stick) toy!


Now completely dark outside, Laura celebrated a successful cat toy buying mission with that bucket of Sweet Martha's overpriced cookies! Quite the line at 9pm in a far less crowded section of the fair...


After cookie time, we walked south on Underwood, back to the main area of the fair. Most of the vendors had closed up shop, but the replica antique sign tent was still going. For about a half a second I thought about getting a tin Phillips 66 sign for my future (now present) office, but decided against it.


A lonely and very green lit ATM sits on the corner of Underwood and Randall...


Across from Big Dog Corn Dogs... You can tell we are getting back to the more populated fair areas, food on a stick has returned!


What was once Machinery Hill, had now been taken over by the "Kidway", a shrunken down and cleaned up version of the Midway, geared towards -you guessed it- kids! Every bit as bright and colorful as the full blown Midway, but all contained in one square block.


The Kidway has a Peter's Hot Dog stand, and behind that, a smaller Giant Slide. My pictures of the Puppy Express didn't turn out unfortunately...


"Great Big Wheel" from the opposite side...


The Butterfly House at the corner of Underwood and Dan Patch is kind of a sore subject with me. Nothing against butterflies, but...



Shortly after I moved back to Colorado in 2005, my mom sent me this article from the Star Tribune. (My apologies for the poor quality, I couldn't find the original, so I had to go with a digital photo of the article I took a few years back...)

Being a dork for things like this, I was saddened by this news. I loved the Penny Arcade, and it was my favorite part of the fair. Every year, my friends and I would look forward to playing all the hot new games that came on the market, and the Minnesota State Fair was the best place to find them. I can't even remember how many quarters I spent on The Simpsons 4 player machine, trying to rescue Maggie, back in 1991!

(By the way, if you want to excel at the game, play as Lisa. Her whipping jump rope attack is very quick and allows you to hit Mr. Burns' henchmen from a further distance.)


Here is a low-res internet photo of the Penny Arcade's clearing out from that Star Tribune story. It still makes me sad...

Downloading this photo in 2005 really made me want to write this story... But what I wanted to write 13 years ago, looked nothing like how this story turned out...


Yup... Big buncha butterflies in there now...


A rather plain looking Cotton Candy booth sits ready for those wanting a break from butterflies. Like this lady!


Although, this larvae statue out front rooooools!

It would look great in our yard...


And here is the "retro" arcade that is leftover from The Great Penny Arcade, that was referenced in the Star Tribune story...


Where Pac Man now comes in Air Hockey form? What the hell?!?!?!


And retro games extend as far as the latest Pixar offerings from Disney...


But look! Way back in the corner, Mario is still here! My second favorite arcade game of all time! What a weak ass high score!


I didn't bother to play it, since I could just play it later that night at the Folks' house. I did want to get a decent picture of the side cabinet art, since my machine is missing that awesome Mario Bros. cartoon...


And you can't get much more METAL than 'tallica in pinball form... Just don't let it tilt, or Lars will sue your ass...


And I have NO IDEA what this is...


After my quick and disappointing walk through of the NEW Minnesota State Fair (not a) Penny Arcade, I decided to just wait outside for Laura. She was doing her own sightseeing on Underwood while I was checking this area out.

I didn't have any cheesecake or ice cold drinks while waiting for her either...


I managed to piss off the Sound Activated Light Up Apparel booth when I tried to take a better picture than this one. The guy manning the booth immediately cut power to his display and shouted "NO PICTURES!" at me. Little does he know that I had already taken this one!

Ha! I have your trade secrets, dick!


Heheheheheh... Nut rolls...


Years back, the Fair Wear tent on the northwest corner of Dan Patch and Underwood, was the home of a 100+ year old carousel. But the fair decided they needed this tent more. That carousel was sold and carted away in pieces, to a now defunct shopping mall, I think. A much smaller carousel was placed a block and a half south, in front of the grandstand. Which I accidentally ignored...


The clock on top of the Sweets & Treats booth is not correct. It was about 9:45pm when I took this picture.


Love From Minnesota is blurry at best...


While Greetings from Minnesota is of far less interest to the public...


The Super Dog is certainly bright and visually striking...


Deep fried Twinkies and Egg Rolls on a stick. The Twinkies are batter dipped, but the jury is still out if they come with a stick or not...


About this point in the evening, I decided that I wanted some of those Fresh French Fries, from the booths that are scattered around the fairgrounds. It wasn't from this stand, and it wasn't daylight when I bought them. But I didn't take a picture at the time. I should have, just so I could have gotten a picture of that happy walking neon fry in full illumination.

The Fresh French Fries stands have had a makeover in the last 15 years. The last time I was at the fair, their booths looked like this:


Thank you internet for the picture!

Unfortunately, the Fresh French Fries booth doesn't sell soft drinks for some ridiculous reason, so I had to make a separate trip for that... Back to the food building!


Which was a lot emptier than it was four hours ago!


Where you can buy more stuff on a stick!

Except that you can't right now, because this booth is closed!


At least the Ball Park Cafe would sell me an overpriced cup of Coke. Deciding that for the price i paid, I should get as much value as I could from that cup of Coke, I washed it out and brought it home. Now my official Minnesota State Fair Coke cup sits on my desk at work, holding various pens and markers. Just like the one from 30 years ago used to, on my desk in Basement World!


And I was able to watch a few moments of the MLB Network while waiting for it!


By the time I was able to complete two thirds of a combo meal, the fries were still somewhat warm! I still was missing the main course for my late dinner, but I figured the inspiration for that would come to me as I continued my walk down to the Midway.


Bacon Ice Cream was not it...


Hey ladies... Ride the Sausage Express! 

Okay, that was sexist and in bad taste.... But it made me laugh!


Even Jesus thinks the Elephant Ears are worthy of being snubbed...


Something I've always liked at the Minnesota State Fair was the Tiny Tim Donuts. A bag of hot deep fried sugar coated dough! So damn tasty, but not exactly a dinner option. Guess I will pass for now... (Ultimately, I didn't get any Tiny Tim Donuts at the fair, and had to settle for my Mini-Donuts at the Twins game in September. They were still very good.)


Nor was I in the mood for Italian food either...


But what's this? Butcher Boys London Broil Steak Sammiches? Sure! Here's my $10!


Damn... This Sammich kicks every other sammiches ass, all day and night! 

No, I didn't, but I wouldn't have blamed myself for going back for a second one... 


Sorry Al's Subs. You don't even get a chance to compete with the Butcher Boys... 


Although your happy stick man statue gets some bonus points.


No one wanted any Fine Greek Foods tonight. But their booth was at the entrance to another important fair feature... Restrooms!


While Laura was making use of the facilities, the Old Dominion concert had just wrapped up, leading to the nightly  Minnesota State Fair fireworks display! Allowing me a chance to test out the fireworks setting on my camera, to less than satisfying results. Also scaring Laura inside the restroom, who heard the explosions, but didn't know that fireworks were being set off outside.


Perhaps a tripod would have helped?


I've only seen one concert at the Minnesota State Fair, which came in 1987.


That would be the Monkees Summer Tour 1987. Which I never would have attended had it not been for the opening act...


Weird Al Yankovic!

Which was actually the second time I've seen Weird Al at the Minnesota State Fair. In 1984, he did a free show in the open field at Cosgrove Street and Wright Avenue. Thousands of people packed in to see Al perform some of his early hits like Ricky, Buckingham Blues and Eat It. I know at least one of my future Wasted Quarter staff writers also saw Al perform that night, though I didn't know him at the time...


Continuing down Nelson Street, past Al's Subs is the Giant Slide. Which is still only $2.50 to ride. Pretty sure it was $2.50 still 15 years ago. That kind of surprised me.


It's also not as Giant as it is when you're 5 years old.


They are tasty, but the idea of the food "Cheese Curds" just does not sound appetizing to me at all. Perhaps if they were on a stick? Guess then they'd be called Cheese Sticks, which is kind of a different thing altogether.

Shortly after I took this picture, a fight broke out in front of the Curd Stand. It was a lot of yelling and some pushing and shoving. I'm not sure if it was about cheese... Didn't see any punches thrown and security arrived quickly to break it up. That would have made a better picture.


Where I bought my hot dog about four hours earlier... They stayed open late!


Continuing down Carnes Avenue toward the Midway, here's a statue of Linus of Peanuts fame. With some blurry people behind it. Peanuts is still big in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, due to Charles Schultz being from here...


Linus has a spot picked out next to the Star Tribune stand. I didn't see the statue when we came by in the daylight, when the Tribune was open. Maybe they switch places after the sun sets?


The Pronto Pups booth had also closed for the night. At least I was able to snap a picture of one of my favorite Minnesota State Fair slogans: "Wiener Dun in a Bun". As a kid, I always wondered what Wiener Dun was...


Even in the dark, the inflatable toy vending booth at the corner of Carnes and Ligget Street, was bright and colorful.


Just before I entered the Midway, I turned around and snapped this picture of Coasters. Who occupied the western side of the same building shared with Andy's Cafe, which I talked about earlier...

Again, my stated goal of this year's Minnesota State Fair visit was to take pictures of the Midway at night. I wanted to capture the bright lights cast against a dark sky, taking probably the most colorful set of photographs I've ever done. My hopes were to get a wide variety of shots that would turn out, and I found that my cell phone did a much better job of this than my digital camera.

It was now almost 11pm. The last bus back to the northern burbs departed at midnight, so I would have to make a mad dash, snapping pictures as quick as I could in order to make the walk to our bus. Laura waited for me up front as I set out on my mission. Attempting to beat the clock, getting my desired photos and making it back in time to make it back in time.

I'm up for the challenge...


The entrance to the Midway used to boast the "Great Big Wheel." 

Now it has some weird upside-down clusters of people... On a stick!


Oh... It's the MIGHTY MIDWAY!


With extra added MAGIC MAZE!

(No relation to Magic Chair...)


One thing I noticed right off on this new improved Midway was the lack of simple games. There still were a few, but seemed to have a little more thought and skill put into them. Such as this "prize every time" fishing game...


Another old internet picture! These are the type games I remember from the old Midway. Throw a dart and pop a balloon and win a picture of a scantily clad woman screen printed on a sheet of glass. That will break into a billion pieces when it falls on the cement floor of Basement World!

I didn't see one single balloon popping dart throwing game...

For shame...

Back in the late 1980's, the dart throwing game was even dumber. For a dollar, you'd throw a dart against a wall of cheaply made posters. Whichever one you hit, you won that poster. The dart didn't even have to stick! Thanks to the fair, I covered the walls of Basement World at a very low cost, with stuff like this bootleg Spuds MacKenzie poster:


Which was another really irritating thing about the Midway back then. Obviously they'd be on the cutting edge of current trends, so if you walked by wearing anything current in pop culture on a t-shirt, the Barkers would harass you constantly in attempts to lure you into playing to win that popular pop culture item.

Like Spuds MacKenzie...


But now... NO LOSERS!


No balloon popping, just lotsa Water Gun Fun... Behind a wall of asses...


One thing that hasn't changed at the Midway was the overpriced sketchy and rickety rides. But they didn't seem very popular tonight...


You gotta love the airbrushed music stars on the Juke Box Music Fun House, that drew no crowds...


Say hello to The Donut Family!


Dirty Sally has at least kept the tradition of rapid fire BB guns, used to shoot out the design on a piece of paper. There used to be one of these stands on the outside of the Penny Arcade (now Butterfly House), and I'd figured they'd been removed altogether. 

Also nice to see that Sally has moved on from just being an effin' SLUT

(One person gets that joke...)


Ride the Frisbee! Or just sit on the bench in front of it...


Zero interest in the Bazooka Blaster either...


People look at the Magnum, but don't ride them.


New York, New York has too many Statue of Liberties. And no riders...


Just across the way from a very green Lemonade stand.


And I thought Flipper was just a dolphin... 


Whack-A-Mole is still a thing!


While the Gravatron has been updated to the Starship 3000! 

They built this city.... Oh nevermind...


The Minnesota Golden Gopher Glory Hole Booth...


That is really lame...


Every time I see one of these swinging hammer type rides, I always envision one of them flying off the stand, hurtling off into the sky... Well, it makes me laugh...


The Haunted House Semi Trailer. I never understood why they bothered putting up a portable Haunted House, when they had a full grown stationary Haunted House, just a few blocks away.


Ooops... I guess I lied about not seeing a dart throwing balloon popping game... 

I see American Flags, Wolves and Kitties, but where are the scantily clad women and bootleg Spuds MacKenzie posters?


Ring toss! (Or something like it...)


Alien Blaster... With no aliens?


I took this picture without stopping, so I didn't get to see how fast the girl throwing like a girl threw. From her arm angle in the picture, I'd give her the top prize if she broke 20mph.


And that was it, we end at the ticket booth. I'd made it all the way around the Midway loop, in just over 20 minutes! I briefly thought of buying one ride ticket for a souvenir (and scanning it for this story), but decided against it.

I met up with Laura at the Midway entrance, and we hurried to the exits and out of the 2018 Minnesota State Fair. Making it to the loading area for our bus by 11:45pm, which was at the farthest point of the bus lot, of course...


Snapping one last shot of the grandstand before we left.

It was only appropriate that it was completely out of focus...

Next year, I go back with more time and get the rest of the pictures I wanted... And I will go back!

I want another London Broil Steak Sammich!

Hopefully Spuds MacKenzie is a thing again...


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