Sure, there are risotto balls and craft beers and breakfast Jucy Lucys to be had. But scattered in-between those must-have eats/drinks and this year's "sexy" seed art are often-overlooked gems of the State Fair.

As a one-person blogger who doesn't need the consensus of a staff, I hereby delcare these the "best" off-the-beaten-path State Fair must-dos.

1. Dance at Opaa at the Fair. After taking a blue-water-filled tour of a cinder block dungeon just to see the beautiful one-dimensional leprechaun dioramas in Ye Old Mill, head across the street to Opaa at the Fair, on the corner of Carnes and Underwood. Where else can you watch a live band go from Van Halen's "Jump" to Prince's "Sexy Mother-effer" while people in paper pig ears dance with yard sticks? 

There's live music every day, but the best band, the BluPrint, plays Sunday, August 24 and August 29, 30, 31. It's the happiest and most diverse crowd you'll see. Plus, you can grab a craft brew and some deep fried baklava on a stick. 

2. Hunt for the best T-shirt slogan (The Game). Our senses are already on overload when we're wandering along Dan Patch Avenue. It only makes sense to turn all of that visual data into a game—one you can actually win. Track all of the T-shirt slogans you see moving in the space around you. At the end of the day, compare with your friends/family. The winner gets a link to a random New Yorker cartoon. 

My winner from yesterday: "History has a way of repeating itself itself itself itself."

3. Explore the 4H Building. There's something both gentle and antiquated about 4H. And maybe that's the beauty of it—an anachronism dedicated to setting a course for the future. In the 4H building, diplays aren't high-design interactive; they're made on cardboard using stencils and smelly markers. 

Even if you don't care about, say, Ukrainian eggs, the crudely drawn images and scissors-designed displays almost always evoke a heart-gulping sense of empathy for their creator. Some of my favorite projects from this year include:

"Dance Shoes" Who needs to do research when pictures of shoes do it for you? 

"Growing Gummy Bears" Artist hypothesis: "I think the water will affect the amount the gummy bears grow."

"Patriotic Ladder Golf" It's like ladder golf. Only it's red, white, and blue. 

Tip: Make the 4H building your last stop. Even a grumpy crowd-loather is sure to leave with a bigger heart. 


What are your favorite "best kept secrets" of the State Fair? Share your favorites in the comments below. I promise not to send the crowds there.  




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