Last chance for the State Fair on Monday, you know. If you haven’t been, because you figured it was the same as it was last year, you’re so, so very wrong. Here’s some of the new stuff:
• Princess Kay of the Milky Way Chainsaw Butter Carving. Combining two old favorites, a burly bearded fellow rips into a huge cylinder of butter and creates the image of our Princess Kay, after she has been mauled by a bear.
• Bipartisan Happy Booth. Meet and greet people from the other side of the aisle. Exchange views in a civil, polite fashion; nod respectfully as differing opinions are offered. Nitrous oxide is continuously pumped into the room at the legal limit.
• Piano winners. If you’ve always envied those people who stagger around the fair carrying an enormous stuffed animal, imagine the looks you’ll get when you and your friends drag a piano around the midway.
Speaking of the midway, there are things to check out there, too.
The oddest ride? The one where everyone sits in rows on a flat platform, which goes up and around. It’s like watching a church choir ascend to heaven only to be turned away. “Hold on. They’re reviewing the application. Aw, shoot, the paperwork had errors, and now we’re going back down.”
The cruelest ride is the Zipper, a small cage that goes up and around and down while you’re spinning in circles, screaming and cursing everything you ever ate, convinced you’re going to bring up a Zwieback teething biscuit that your mom fed you when you were 2.
This year, there’s an enormous Ferris wheel. It’s not a Big Wheel. It’s not a Great Wheel. It’s a Great Big Wheel. Fifteen stories high, it takes nine hours to revolve. But it has an amazing view, and tomorrow you’ll see something from its summit you might not want to think about: the setting sun taking summer with it.
F. Scott Fitzgerald once remarked that the construction of the Empire State Building had a deflating effect on New Yorkers. The smart set went to the roof, looked out — and saw that New York City wasn’t the infinitely glittering playground they thought, but a narrow place whose borders were clear, with a great expanse beyond.
And then he probably threw up, because he drank a lot.
But you get the idea. Tomorrow is summer’s end. Because August decided it would act like Oregon in October, you might feel as if you were cheated, but one look from your perch in the sky should help.
It’s all green and peaceful down there. Whatever arguments rage below, you can’t hear them. We’re all Minnesotans, and we all have this place, this time, this annual allotment that reminds us what matters, what we have in common.