Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Family, Friends, and Fair Food

Andy and the record setter for most Midway prizes accumulated in a day!

     I've been aching to make a trip back to the Midwest to see family and friends this summer, and last week, Andy and I finally took time off and flew back to our homeland. It was so great to reunite with loved ones we hadn't seen since Christmas, and I'm already looking forward to our next planned return in December!

     As luck would have it, our trip to Minnesota just happened to coincide with the last weekend of the State Fair. I've been to the Iowa State Fair many times (even worked there a couple summers), but I'd never made it to Minnesota edition before.

     I take great pride in my home state's fair, but I have to say that both Minnesota and Iowa are eerily similar in most ways. Lots of people.
Various foods on sticks, many of them fried. Livestock. The Midway. Humidity. So all in all, I felt right at home.

     Although I'm pretty sure no one ever wrote a musical about the Minnesota State Fair. Just sayin'...

     I have to say that we tried to tackle the fair with far too large a group. I think there were nearly 20 of us, and we probably spent most of our day standing around and saying, "Who are we waiting for? Where did they go?" It was not a sound plan of action. We should have split into smaller groups and met up later, but since it was the only chance for some of Andy's family to spend time with him while we were in town, we tried to make it work with our large herd on the busiest weekend at the fair.

Another State Fair Staple: The Giant Slide
     Apparently it was record breaking attendance at the State Fair that weekend, and the crowds were massive. Worst of all were the food lines! I love cookies more than anyone, but no way am I waiting in line for 20 minutes. Luckily our more persistent companions let me have a couple cookies from their bucket, so my craving was satisfied.

     For those of you who may be worried that I didn't get the binge eating experience that every fair goer must endure, I assure you I met the stuffing your face requirements with all of my favorites (giant lemonade, mini donuts, and pork chop on a stick) as well as some new treats (cajun fries, apple cider pops, and  frozen grapes).

     I will admit that the Minnesota State Fair had a much larger Midway than the Iowa one. They even had a Kidway as well? Minnesotans take their carnival rides and games seriously!

     We also had the luckiest kid ever with us at the Midway! I think he walked away with 5 or 6 prizes. Unheard of! We shouldn't have ditched the fair and headed to the casino to keep his winning streak going! I also felt bad for his dad having to lug all those stuffed animals around for the remainder of the day, especially the giant dragon. (It was a freaking awesome prize and surprisingly lightweight but cumbersome.) According to Andy, however, "He's a dad. That's his job." No sympathy.

      The one area of the fair that I was definitely looking forward to was the Minnesota Craft Beers area. I enjoyed living in Duluth for the plethora of local brews available, and I was looking forward to tasting some new brews.

      I felt a bit overwhelmed when I had to choose which flight of beers I wanted to try. Why couldn't I sample all of them? After much deliberation, I chose the flight of dark beers because it was the only set that contained 4 brews I had never tasted before.

     Apparently Andy's aversion to dark beers runs in the family, because everyone grimaced when I told them which flight I'd chosen. Oh well. More for me to enjoy!

Ye Old Mill: A State Fair Tradition.
Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox.
   I had a ton of fun at the fair, but by the time we started home, I was tired and bloated. After 8 hours of walking, my feet were OVER it. You'd think living in NYC where I walk quite a bit on a daily basis I would be better prepared for the physical strain of the State Fair, but my body was rebelling hardcore. Needless to say I slept soundly that night.

     Later that week, we made the trek over to Wisconsin to spend time with my family at the cabin. I would share photos of all the fun outdoor activities, rained the entire time we were there. (Stupid weather.) So I figured no one would want to see pictures of all of us playing Hearts, gorging on Top the Tater, singing musical theater, and looking sad because our bonfire got quenched by rainfall.

     I'm bummed we didn't get any sunshine so we could lounge on the dock, go swimming and kayaking, etc., but it was so great to spend time with my family and friend. I wouldn't mind, however, if our next visit to the cabin was equal parts fair weather and friendly.

     As always, our trip home felt way too short lived. We always try to fit so much into a week, because we want to see everyone and do everything. Now that we're back in NYC, I'm exhausted. Aren't vacations supposed to be relaxing?

     I have to admit that I am more homesick for the Midwest than ever upon our return to the East Coast. NYC is awesome, but it never truly feels like home.

     In the meantime, fall is fast approaching and with it the ominous audition season. Wish me luck!

     And simply because I couldn't resist...