All's fair in love

Amid all the attractions and distractions of the Great Minnesota Get-Together, fairgoers still find time to express their affection for others. Or at least for cotton candy.

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John and Diane Frish of Anoka have been married for 43 years, and most of those years have included at least one trip to the State Fair. In fact, the fair was the locale of one of their first dates. "We parked by Machinery Hill," reminisced Diane. "I wore a short zip-up jumpsuit and high-heeled sandals. I wanted to impress him. Guess it worked out. Every year I love this man more and more."

Kayla and Taylor Evenson of Brooklyn Park may have gotten all sparkly and prettified at the Fair Hair booth, but they tore into their cotton candy like a couple of little lionesses. "They're so tired," said mom Sonia. "This should pep them up for a while."

Isabella looks like she's about to re-enact the final scene of "King Kong" with that giant blue gorilla that proud papa, Kyle McCutcheon, just won for her on the Midway. "She's so small and she's getting such big prizes," said McCutcheon, of Rockford, Minn. "One day she'll be old enough to ask me about winning them." McCutcheon said he learned how to win the stand-up bottle game by practicing at home with his wife Stephanie's dad, Frank Kopet, an old Midway-game master who also won a huge gorilla, plus a couple of supersized Smurfs. The two men had a right to swagger a bit: They said they'd spent less than $8 to claim their bounty.

Leah had a little lamb ... if only for a moment. Leah Fletcher of Champlin bestowed a kiss on a 3-day-old lamb in the Miracle of Birth Center. "I just found out they open their eyes right away!" she said. "Look, how cute!" "They're cute now," said a guy behind her, "not so much later, though."

Jack and Isabelle Ouyang of Edina were the picture of sibling harmony, heads touching as they shared a drink. "I don't know if it's love," said their mom. "It's just competition to see who gets more."

Lou and Lisa Stankus of Farmington took a spin through Ye Old Mill, the fair's oldest ride and its de facto tunnel of love. "It's just one of those things we have to do every year," said Lisa. "Absolutely," said Lou. Asked if they took advantage of the temporary darkness to sneak in a smooch, Lou said, "Oh, yeah, I think that's a given." They didn't spend the ride whispering sweet nothings, though: "We were wondering if we would sink our boat," he said. "It seemed like a possibility."

It seems that horses have a fondness for fair food, too. Princess Lilly's favorite is cheese curds, but Sweet Martha's cookies that come in a bucket -- not unlike a horse's nosebag feeder -- are a close second, according to owner Josie Dickie of Lakeville, 13.

Despite all the sensory overload of the fair around her, Donna Ivey of Minneapolis had a hard time taking her eyes off her 3-month-old son, Jackson. And why not? He's clearly the center of the universe --hers, for sure.

After returning from a yearlong fellowship in Barcelona, Spain, University of Minnesota engineering prof Julian Marshall and his family plunged back into Loon State culture in the most extreme way possible -- the fair. Marshall, pictured with his 2-year-old daughter Louisa, said the family loves going to see all the animals best. "I talked to one farmer who said he'd been around cows 40 years and doesn't see what people find so interesting about them," said Marshall, "but my kids don't have that experience, and they were just amazed that what was coming off the sheep would be made into sweaters."

Haley Ogden and Allen Chace of Minneapolis, who met on eHarmony a year ago, took advantage of a shady canopy near the Creative Arts Building for a little resting and nuzzling.

Kaitlyn Becker, 9, of Savage, wore her love for dad Wil Becker right on her shirt outside the 1919 Root Beer stand.

That's one way to get a girl's attention. After practicing rope stunts with Choo Choo Bob, Joel Wendorff of Bemidji, 18, couldn't resist lassoing his own little runaway dogie, Debra Gross, 16. Her expression suggests she wasn't all that miffed about it.

Natalie Schultz, of Prior Lake, kissed her fiancé, Chris Mau, of St. Paul, as they had dinner at Coasters.

Jay Woosley of Minneapolis kissed Rachael Albrecht, of Burnsville, as they rode the swings at the Midway. The couple dated 13 years ago while in high school in Roseville. They reunited this week after reconnecting on Facebook.

Kristin Tillotson • 612-673-7046

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