Most of my friends think I’m crazy due to my love of the Minnesota State Fair (which is a little funny since I’m a psychologist).
In a last-ditch effort to change the perspective of my fair-hating friends (and husband), I now submit “Top 10 tips for fair haters”:
10. Proper preparation is essential. Buy your tickets before the fair starts (good for any day of the fair) to save money and skip lines. Bring a water bottle. Wear comfortable, broken-in shoes. Bring cash to avoid the ATM lines.
9. If at all possible, go on a weekday to avoid the massive crowds on the weekends. Even better, go on a bad weather day, accompanied by a poncho. No need to worry about fashion at the fair!
8. Take one of the special buses to the fair. Many of them are free, and you’ll skip the hassle and expense of dealing with traffic and parking.
7. Head to any information booth to pick up a map and information about activities for that day. Look for free shows of interest. The amateur shows at 6 p.m. are always a good bet, and they make for great people watching.
6. It’s all about the free stuff! Although offerings vary from year to year, in past years I’ve brought home a year’s-worth of school supplies, live trees, personalized calendars, a “Where’s the Beef” fly swatter, a carpeted bench and, of course, the Star Tribune lip balm of the year. You can pick up a brochure at the information booths with listings for this year.
5. Two words: crop art (located in the Horticulture Building). Entertaining, touching, irreverent and impressive!
4. After crop art, head to the nearby Dairy Building to check out likenesses of Princess Kay and her attendants being carved in 90-pound blocks of butter.
3. Avoid the area near the main food building from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Head to the periphery exhibits or take in the daily parade at 2 p.m. on a bench at the outskirts.
2. Speaking of food, while I won’t impose my favorites, I can suggest going with a sweet/salty alternating pattern. The fresh apple cider freezies at the apple stand (Horticulture) are a great way to cleanse the palate in between fried-food courses.
1. If you want to feel truly good about the world, go see the 4-H youths with their cows in the cattle barn. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch a glimpse of someone sleeping on his or her cow. Priceless! If that doesn’t make you a fair convert, nothing will. Enjoy!
Lynn Strauss, of Plymouth, is a psychologist.