Everyone knows that the myriad foods on a stick are an ongoing oddity of the Minnesota State Fair. But there's other stuff there that's very odd, too, stuff you wouldn't give a second look except for being in an environment where weird is commonplace.
Here's a list of a half-dozen things culled from a tripthrough the fairgrounds, ranked in no particular order. Compare this to the oddities list you could make on your next trip to the fair.
For $21.95, you can buy a baseball cap with your favorite team's logo on it -- in flashing red lights -- at the Sports Impressions booth under the grandstand. It's garish, but slightly more tasteful than guys who go shirtless at football games in the dead of winter to get on TV.
The Minnesota Orchestra is celebrating its 100th anniversary with a tent that features an "instrument petting zoo." So that's what a cello feels like, huh? It's odd -- and kind of nice -- to find a cultural respite amid the smells from nearby vendors selling onion rings, mini-donuts and Mexican food.
Did you know this year marks the 40th anniversary of the Swiffy being marketed at the fair? Those in need of an infomercial fix can stop at the grandstand and watch cheerful women stain carpeting with juices and other yucky stuff so the Swiffy can go to work cleaning them up.
A walk-through of several fair buildings yielded two financial planning booths. Makes you want to walk up and ask, "Hey, aren't you the guy who invested my child's college fund?"
Someone's always wearing something totally tasteless. On opening day, a man walked around the fairgrounds wearing a T-shirt that read: "A penny for your thoughts, a dollar if you flash me." Stupid in a public place, stupid beyond belief when you're walking around with a little girl.
J.D.'s Eating Establishment. Why is this weirder than other places to eat at the fair? It's the sign out front: "Definitely nothin' on a stick." So why bother?
-- Howard Sinker is at email@example.com.He coordinates the newspaper's State Fair coverage.