The Great Minnesota Get-Together

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In Minnesota, the State Fair is a big deal. Depending on how you measure it, our fair is the largest or the second largest in the country. During these Twelve Days of Fun Ending Labor Day, a common conversation starter is Are you going/have you been to the fair? As the end of August approaches, people wait eagerly for the critics’ write-ups of the year’s new foods (2015 introductions include the mac & cheese cupcake, kimchi ‘n’ curry poutine, and BBQ pickle ice cream).

I missed the fair last year, but this year I spent the better part of a day there. Here’s what I saw and ate:

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Sheep in the Sheep Barn

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I stumbled into the sheep program. A judge from Indiana inspects the yearling ewe class. The first place ewe he ultimately chose beat the second place ewe because “she [came] together a little nicer in that neck and shoulder region”.

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A handsome rabbit

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A new lamb in the immensely popular Miracle of Birth Center.

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A calf in the Miracle of Birth Center.

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This is Captain Jack, this year’s largest boar. He weighs 1,080 pounds.

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There was an appalling lack of goats in the Swine Barn (their usual home) this year. Nothing but these Boer goats! I wanted Oberhaslis!

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Yeah, it doesn’t get much more Minnesotan than this.

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State pride

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The first thing I ate this year was a new fair food, a Bapple (blueberry-apple) hand pie from Sara’s Tipsy Pies.

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The seed art is always great.

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And engagé.

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You’ve probably always wanted to grow a champion sugar beet.

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Or a truly monstrous kohlrabi. To think the farmer who grew that one on the white tray thought they had a shot at largest kohlrabi! Little did they know.

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The first place winner of the Giant Pumpkin Contest. This pumpkin weighs 1,473 pounds, more than the largest boar.

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You can also win prizes just for growing some nice tomatoes.

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Whoo!

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I caught the Celtic duo Willow Brae playing under the AFL-CIO marquee. Here, the Scottish smallpipes! She also had border pipes.

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Walleye mac and cheese!

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Prize-winning Swedish-inspired crafts in the Creative Activities building

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And in a different vein…

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So many snickerdoodles

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Not the most photogenic contest

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Prize jams and jellies

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Prize maple syrups

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What passes for ethnic baking in Minnesota

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Swedes-in-a-blanket: Swedish meatballs in lefse

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Minnesota

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