The Minnesota State Fair ended its run last week, but it wasn’t the close on just any old year. 2009 represented a record run for the annual “Great Minnesota Get-Together,” pulling in an astounding 1,790,947 people over 12 days to experience caloric thunderstorms and blinding state pride. I even added a few twists of the turnstile on my own, making a short pilgrimage to my beloved place of birth to enjoy a state fair like no other around.
I’ve been attending the MN Fair since I was a child, happily strutting through the 320 acres of rides, food stands, and educational haunts for most of my life. It’s a Minnesota institution that no other state has been able to match as far as I’ve seen, fencing off a chunk of Falcon Heights to arrange a 12-day belly buster of a party that’s irresistible. Even while being away from MN for the last handful of years, I’ve still made my way back to the Fairgrounds. It’s home to me, that juicy bite of Minnesota culture I’ve always held dear to my heart. Sure, we might have funny accents, and perhaps enjoy a XXL garment on occasion, but the Fair channels a special community soul that I adore and rarely sense beyond the borders. It’s an overcrowded, overpriced, impossible-to-find-close-and-cheap-parking comfy sweater that feels almost sinful to miss.
I waded into the mass of bodies this year to feel that deep-fried, wood-speared spirit of the city, and it was tremendous. Not only did a huge portion of the population come out to play for 2009, but the weather cooperated and the energy of the Fair seemed at an all-time high. It was a treat to return after a two-year absence, reminding me how a proper state fair looks and cooks with a generous budget and enthusiastic citizens.
Last time I visited the Fair, it was in the dead of winter. Now I’ve returned with some fresh photos from the event, looking to capture more of the iconic controlled chaos and historical beauty of the Minnesota State Fair and its many areas of Midwestern spiritual elevation and disturbingly irresponsible food challenges. Man, it was great to be back.
(click to huge-o-size)