4-H members from across the region are at the Minnesota State Fair this weekend for the 4-H livestock encampment.
Oh, what fun times those are.
I earned trips to the State Fair several times … back then you could only take one thing, unlike the options available to 4-H youths today.
In my last year of 4-H, I had the choice of taking my needlework, my purebred Saanen dairy goat or my purple-ribbon-winning breeding pen of bronze turkeys.
It should be no surprise that I went with my dairy goat … and it was a good decision. White Haze earned grand champion Saanen senior doe that year. It took 11 years in 4-H and four trips to the State Fair, but I finally earned the coveted trophy … actually, Haze earned it.
Earning a trip to the State Fair was exciting for farm kids like myself. We spent four days at our home away from home … the 4-H Hilton, at the top of the hill on the state fairgrounds in Falcon Heights.
The 4-H Hilton was and still is the dormitory-style living quarters for hundreds of 4-H’ers during the 12 days of the Great Minnesota Get-Together. We had to lug our sleeping bag, pillow and luggage up three flights of stairs to get to one huge room filled with bunk beds that were, back then, stacked three high.
Afraid of heights, I always bargained with other kids from Nobles County to get the bottom bunk. It wasn’t too difficult – most wanted to be sleeping on the second or third tier.
In later years, we stayed at Bailey Hall on the University of Minnesota campus. We were packed four to a room – two kids on beds, two kids on the floor – and no air conditioning! Whether it was the 4-H Hilton or Bailey Hall, we all got a workout on our way to the livestock barns.
Of course, all that walking was a good thing, what with so much delicious fair food eating up our money. In my opinion, you can’t go to the State Fair without having the “About a foot long hot dog,” Sweet Martha’s baked-while-you-wait chocolate chip cookies, Danielson’s onion rings and an order of cheese curds from the Food Building. (I’d suggest not eating all of those in one day unless you’ve packed the Pepcid!)
Oh, I think I’m going to miss not going to the State Fair this year.
I hope all of this food talk hasn’t made you hungry … or made your stomach churn at the sound of all that grease … but I’m going to keep talking about food.
I received an e-mail a few weeks ago from the Minnesota State Fair touting the new food choices available this year … from treats on a stick to the zany and, frankly, not real appetizing-sounding fare. Judge for yourself….
The latest food-on-a-stick additions include Fiddlestix (premium vanilla ice cream hand sliced, skewered, dipped in chocolate and rolled in chopped nuts); foot-long dessert pizza (pizza dough, sweet cream cheese, cinnamon and sugar); the Fry Dog (a french fry encrusted deep-fried hot dog); Texas Steak Dinner on-a-stick; peach-glazed pork cheeks (grilled and marinated in garlic, herbs, spices and honey); and caprese salad (tomato, basil, mozzarella and balsamic vinegar).
What do you think so far? I would probably try the peach-glazed pork cheek or the foot-long dessert pizza, but the deep fried hot dog? No thanks!
New foods not served on a stick include beignets (sweet, fried dough); brat burgers (ground bratwurst patty served on a pretzel roll); breakfast and open-faced grilled Spam sandwiches; deep-fried Norwegian Banana Splits (banana rolled in lefse with ice cream and toppings); funnel cake fries (funnel cakes formed like french fries and served with chocolate dipping sauce); Krumkake (thin, crisp pastry made fresh, rolled into a horn shape and filled with whipped cream and fresh fruit); pot roast sundae (scoop of mashed potatoes covered with roast beef, gravy, corn and a cherry tomato); sunfish filets; the Tornado Potato (a deep-fried spiral cut potato); Swedish meatballs and gravy; and Texas Tater Dogs.
Most of the non-food-on-a-stick options actually sound quite good. I think maybe I’ll try making the pot roast sundae (sans tomato) this weekend at home and enjoy it while thinking about the State Fair.