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The fairgrounds is lined with ice cream purveyors, all of whom are more than happy to hand out spoons in pairs.
For those chasing quality, start at the Hamline Church Dining Hall (Dan Patch Av. and Underwood St.), where friendly Methodists scoop eight flavors ($4.50 to $6.50) from Izzy’s, including this year’s Jell-O Salad, a potluck-ready blend of lime, cranberry and marshmallow cream in a sweet cream base.
Nitro Ice Cream (Food Building) uses a showy science fiction-esque process to craft unbelievably luscious vanilla ice cream ($4 to $7), serving it straight up or topping it with hot fudge, caramel sauce or chocolate sauce.
There’s plenty of soft-serve on the premises, but nothing beats the over-the-top frozen custard at Custard’s Last Stand (in front of the grandstand), a premium product sold in four flavors ($3 to $6), including a don’t-miss chocolate-coffee twist. Speaking of deals, here’s one: a not-so-small-ish cone is just $3.
The modest Lingonberry Ice Cream stand (Underwood St. and Carnes Av.) boasts some serious frozen treasure: a distinctive, made-exclusively-for-the-fair treat. The lilac-tinted ice cream beautifully showcases this northern cousin to the cranberry and serves it in cones, sundaes and floats ($5.50 and $6). And yes, those are lingonberry Sno Cones, and you should definitely share one.
Finally, two newish attractions are pointing the State Fair in the direction it should have taken years ago, namely as a platform for spotlighting the very best that Minnesota has to offer, food- and drink-wise. At Minnesota Wine Country (Underwood St. and Judson Av.), couples can sip their way through four three-pour flights ($10) from eight Gopher State wineries.
Across the street at the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild (Agriculture Horticulture), beer lovers can sample six four-pour flights ($8) from 18-plus brewers, along with a cream soda ($4) from Brau Brothers in Marshall, Minn., that has to be tasted to be believed. Oh, and don’t forget to pick up a bag or two of the liberally spiced beer nuts ($4). Cheers.
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