August 24th, 2007

New Tilley Hat

The Fair: A Brief Trip Report Part I

The 35W Bridge collapse affected my travel plans, but that wasn't the kicker. Where I usually park is the University Park-and-ride, which is right where the new football stadium is being built. The Fair's Parking Information page says, "Limited parking due to stadium construction" so it was a good thing I got an early start! My car was tucked in one of the small side parking lots, but at least the bus stopped nearby.

The MInnesota State Fair is large and crowded. Yesterday was gray and rainy and I suspect people made up for lost time. Even early, the Fair was crowded. Not too crowded, but more people than I usually see at 10am. On the other hand, it was after 1pm when I left and it was more crowded but hardly packed. Maybe people paced themselves.

Without a plan or scheduled performance to aim for, I wandered peripatetically into vague and distant corners of the fairgrounds. I had all the milk I could drink, which turned out to be two cups then and one later (I saved the cup). The Miracle of Birth exhibit was ultra-cute, and also had solar powered hot water sinks where I rinsed out my milk cup for later. Wanting to try new things, I ate at a place called Blue Moon, where you ordered breakfast (I had egg, bacon and cheese on ciabatta) and could eat watching movies from arranged car seats. In this case, tv shows. The story of my life: I wandered in just as an episode of The Beverly Hillbillies was ending. One of the odd cheapo tv releases where they can't use the Flatt & Scruggs theme song. Ah well. Another episode started, still without the famous theme, and it was time to go. I deviated from either of my usual paths and dove though the middle.

Still a bit hungry, I was lured into trying another new (to the Fair) snack: Crab cakes w/chips (ie fries). Decent crab cakes, and I put enough vinegar on the fries to make them tasty too. Passing by the butterflies (my major discovery from last year), I entered my straw ballot for the GOP Presidential race (Paul, what the heck, Republicans lost my vote a loooong time ago). Heading into uncertain territory, I saw tractors and right-wing radio stations, and veered back to gain familiar ground. Lo and behold, a huge crowd of people on bleachers and benches were watching a lumberjack contest. A sassy mc and sign-language interpreter introduced the participants and their various activities. The "winner" of a particular contest was marked by a tree disk, a slice from a previous contest. The mc had young members of the audience hold on to the disks because she didn't count very well.

The contests themselves went fast. Seconds to hand-saw through a tree or climb a pole. Even chopping trees on a "springboard' went very vast. Lame jokes held the audience between bursts of activity.

State Fair lumberjacks
Minnesota State Fair lumberjacks, in a contest
Aug. 24, 2007

State Fair lumberjack
Lumberjack on springboard
Aug. 24, 2007

The "Eco Experience" building, the old Technology Building, wasn't worth it, so I continued to the Fine Arts Bldg to see my friend's map of Minnesota made of wood... but that will have to wait for the next part of the trip. Time to take a nap.