NEW YORK - Nearly a dozen kinds of foods-on-a-stick, butter sculptures and music with a Minnesota flair. And even a politician. It had everything you'd expect to see at the Great Minnesota Get-Together.
There was just one catch: This version of the State Fair was being celebrated in Brooklyn.
Hundreds of Minnesota natives pulled out their Vikings shirts and Twins hats, their deep fryers and love for greasy food for the first "Minnesota State Fair Affair" on Sunday in the New York City borough.
In a city where our state is often labeled "flyover country," the Minnesotans-turned-New Yorkers stood in a line that stretched down the block for the chance to show off their state pride, at least for one day.
"To see so many natives in one place just reminds me of how much I love Minnesota," said Nick Heisick, 30, who grew up in Brooklyn Park. "It's good to know so many other Minnesotans love Minnesota as much as I do."
The event at the Bell House, a warehouse concert venue, had contests for foods-on-a-stick, creative butter sculpting and Minnesota trivia. Shirts and hats were aplenty with logos of the Twins, Vikings, Timberwolves and Wild -- even the North Stars -- and every college from the University of Minnesota to the University of St. Thomas. A T-shirt stand sold out of a replica "I love NY" shirt, in which the heart in the iconic logo was replaced with the shape of Minnesota.
Music by Prince and Bob Dylan, with a bit of Atmosphere thrown in, blared out of the speakers. The official festivities were kicked off with a sing-along song that had a chorus of "All hail the motherland Minnesota."
"It's a funny thing to have in common with people," said Philippe Knab, who saw several former classmates from St. Paul's Macalester College. "It's like you're instant friends."
The event was organized by several groups that have been celebrating their Minnesota roots in New York for years. Mishka Vertin, 30, from Breckenridge in Wilkin County, said it was a natural outgrowth of monthly happy hours hosted by a group called "Minneapple in the Big Apple."
"Minnesotans don't usually get so much props in New York," said Vertin, one of the main organizers. "Today is a good day for Minnesota."
Of course, a key ingredient was missing from the State Fair re-creation. "I don't see any hogs," said Bruce Osgood, who moved to New York more than 50 years ago with his wife, native Minnesotan Shirley Osgood.
But the Minnesotans there didn't seem to mind. The biggest attractions were staples of the real fair: butter sculptures and foods-on-a-stick.
Instead of a Princess Kay of the Milky Way sculpture, contestants were asked to make creative designs -- out of butter, of course -- to win a crown, sash and dairy creamer shaped like a cow. Among the dozen entries were two collapsed Metrodomes, a tractor and SpongeBob Squarepants.
The food-on-a-stick contest also attracted creative ideas, from sangria to mini-snowmen with beet-root scarves.
Sen. Al Franken, who was born in New York and moved to Minnesota, awarded the five finalists some unique prizes, from "most Jewish" for a matzo-ball-on-a-stick to "most alcoholic" for the sangria. The Boundary Waters-on-a-stick entry, a circular, blue and green gelatin creation, was named "most beautiful" by Franken, but he said it tasted terrible.
Franken asked the finalists where they were from, and the crowd booed when one woman said Michigan. Franken quickly reminded them of their Minnesota roots. "That's not Minnesota nice," he said. "Try again to be Minnesota nice: passive-aggressive."
"Oh ... that's interesting!" someone yelled out.
Jeremy Herb • 1-202-408-2723