Here's your Fair Checklist. Well, a Fair Checklist; can't presume it's yours. But maybe it should be.
We all have our routes and ruts, our familiar routines; if you enter by the main gate, for example, you're either a right-turn or a straight-ahead person. I don't think anyone goes left. No, c'mon, let's go see the prize-winning corn before there's a line! You get around to the corn when you've done everything else. You're a Main-Gate/Corn-at-the-end type.
If you enter by the bus dropoff, then the water ride's on one side, the Miracle of Birth Center on your left. You think: "I'd call the birth of a small sheep an inspirational reminder of the incessant cycle of life, but miracle? Call me when the sheep gives birth to a set of encyclopedias, or a Honda."
Anyway. We have our routines -- must eat this, have to see this. You might want to shake it up. Some suggestions follow.
Last year: Get sneezed on by a pig. They're so adorable! Also, touch the enormous boar, then rub your eyes and nose. This year: OMG FLU. If you walk past the swine barn, bathe in Purell when you get home and burn all clothes. Including the ones you wore last year.
Last year: Pronto Pup. This year: Poncho Dog. I know, it's like defecting to another country. Maybe next week you'll muse aloud that you might want to go to Burger King instead of McDonald's, and your family will stare: It's like I don't even know you anymore.
Last year: A feedbag of Fresh French Fries served by the damned, toiling in a broiling hell-shack of spattering oil. Man, it's delicious. This year: Poutine. It's French fries and cheese curds, with gravy.
Let that sink in, like a grease stain on fine linen. Yes, fries and curds and gravy. I can't type Poutine without pain shooting down my left arm. The idea of this stuff is so powerful, so delicious, that they could put up a sign saying TOTALLY WORTH THE INEVITABLE GOUT and people would be six deep at the window. POUTINE, people.
Previously you had to walk to the French fries place, then walk to the cheese curd building, then cry to the heavens above: Where, oh where is the gravy? There should be gravy! There should be a fountain of gravy. There should be Gravy River running through Machinery Hill. Now everything's in one cup. Make your heart work for a livin'. Don't worry: The fair has those cardiac-emergency paddles on hand, and they don't use gel. They slick 'em up with bacon grease.
Last year: Avoid Pioneer Village. This year: Avoid Pioneer Village. Really, save something for 2025. Nothing will have changed.
Last year: The Great Minnesota Sing-Along, where everyone stands on straw and does mass karaoke. This year: The Great Minnesota Deposition, where everyone is served with papers for singing lyrics without paying royalties.
Last year: The novelty food that consisted of some ill-tempered animal you previously regarded as inedible. This year: Camel on a stick. Hump-fil-A, perhaps.
Last year: A bucket of cookies, which you can justify because it's the fair, where societal norms fall apart and people strolling around eating cookies from a pail is perfectly normal. This year: Pie. Minneapple Pie has the best graphics of any recent food stand. I just fear they'll go the bucket route and sell you a pie with holes cut in it, so you can tie it around your face and eat it while you walk.
Last year: Throwing a ball at an object in the hopes of winning an enormous stuffed animal. This year: Bring an enormous stuffed animal to the fair and throw it at a Midway barker. He will be confused and give you a ball as your prize.
Last year: You did Ye Old Mill, because it's a tradition to sit in the dark in a tight, confined space. You recalled how courtin' folk used the opportunity to neck, back when young couples had no privacy because adults knew their hormones were so overcharged the cows got restless and coyotes howled from four miles away. Of course, no one necks in there now. This year: Great place to try out that 4,000 candlepower flashlight!
In short: Shake it up! Do everything different this year, and see the fair in a whole new way! Let me know how it goes.
Me -- I have a plan, and I'm sticking to it.
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