Stephan Hesse Libertine, Minneapolis

“I love the fair. I’ve been going since I was a kid. I have my staples. I walk in and immediately get a smoked turkey leg. Then it’s the cheese curds and the Pronto Pups, and then I’ll try and grab anything with bacon on it. I have a big sweet tooth, so I’ll try any of the new sweets. Rabbit Hole has a Korean dessert that I’m excited to try. And I like to check out the new beers. Schell’s does that blueberry beer. It’s good. This year they’ve got that citrus sangria. I’m looking forward to that. On the way out, I get a bucket of Sweet Martha’s cookies. It’s what I look forward to most, by far. If I don’t have time to go to the fair, I’ll still drop by, get a ticket, buy a bucket, then leave. I never eat all of them. I’ll ration them out for a few days.”

Michelle Gayer the Salty Tart, Minneapolis

“I’m there for 10 of the 12 days [she sells coconut macaroons in the West End Market], and a lot of those days I pack a lunch. I make myself a sandwich, and throw in some pita chips. And I buy a peach. It’s all about those peaches at the Produce Exchange. One a day. They’re so juicy and so refreshing. And it’s fruit — fresh fruit — at the fair. I hate to admit this, but I do like that dang chicken in a cone at the Blue Barn. That’s what I’ve been eating for the past two years. Maybe because it’s near my stand, you know? I can’t be running all over the fair.”

Doug Flicker Piccolo and Sandcastle, Minneapolis

“My wife is a big fan of the fair. She got me to go. Usually you go in with the best of intentions of eating a whole bunch of stuff, and then it doesn’t take long to realize that that’s going to be a bad idea. For me, it’s usually a foot-long hot dog and a vanilla shake from the Dairy Building. I just love shakes, and they have to be vanilla. It’s the same thing with ice cream cones. I don’t understand the whole twist concept. And then always something Spam-related. I remember eating a lot of Spam when I was a kid. My father was a big fan, so we’d have fried Spam sandwiches, with lots of mustard, and I remember being amazed at it, and poking it and wondering, ‘What is this stuff?’ ”

Landon Schoenefeld Nighthawks and Birdie, Minneapolis

“I’m kind of boring when it comes to eating at the fair. I don’t venture into the weird stuff. I’m kind of a Pronto Pup guy. It’s the crispiness of it. I like a good funnel cake. Cheese curds, too. I like to ride some of the rides — the Zipper, for sure. It can be quite terrifying, and it takes me back to my days at the Brown County Fair in Aberdeen, S.D. It’s a small-town fair, and sometimes the State Fair feels that way to me, too. You know, you go and get fried foods, ride a few rides and maybe see the Steve Miller Band.”

Mike Rakun Marin Restaurant & Bar, Minneapolis, and Mill Valley Kitchen, St. Louis Park

“Cheese curds, definitely. They’re just so good. My parents are both Cheeseheads, and I grew up eating all the things that Wisconsinites produce. It’s ingrained in me: When at a festival, you eat cheese curds and brats, and drink beer. Corn on the cob is a must, always. After that, it’s window shopping with the family. I’ve got three kids, and they’ve got to have this, or they’ve got to have that, so I’m usually cleaning up the mess that they don’t finish. It could be bacon on a stick, or a pork chop on a stick. They love anything sweet and sparkly, like those giant Rice Krispies bars with Froot Loops; they’ve got to have those. I try not to consume too much fried stuff, so I hold off on the cheese curds until later in the day. Otherwise they just take me down.”

Christina Nguyen Hola Arepa, Minneapolis

“I go every few years. I’m not enough of a Minnesotan, I guess. I’m terrible. I didn’t go last year, because I was preparing for our wedding, and I wanted to maintain my wedding weight; you know, stay away from all that deep-fried food. But this year? I’m going to hit it all. It sounds super-basic, but I love the corn dogs. And the deep-fried pickles; they’re so good. There’s a vegetable somewhere in there, right? I’m terrified of the deep-fried candy bars. I also like to try the new foods. The last one I tried was the sweet corn ice cream. It had berries on it, and it was totally delicious.”

Mike DeCamp Monello, Minneapolis

“I love the State Fair, and I’d go every day if I could. It’s the only time that I try to get outside. There’s a lot to do and to see, and, to a point, it really celebrates Minnesota. The Gizmo sandwich is kind of my favorite thing now. It’s the first stop that I make every year. It’s soft bread with Italian beef, a little tomato and some cheese, and what’s not to like? I always get a Pronto Pup; I always get Tom Thumb mini doughnuts, and only the Tom Thumb mini doughnuts. Everyone has their thing, right? I always get the jerk chicken roti at Harry Singh’s Caribbean Restaurant. When I was young, the last thing I’d do was the bottomless glass of milk, but now it’s a twist cone at the Dairy Building. A twist cone and 300 napkins, because, with my beard, it’s hard to eat without feeling like a gross pig.”

Leonard Anderson Tongue in Cheek, St. Paul

“I went last year, after a hiatus of a few years. It feels like every time I go to the fair, it’s on a record-setting day, with tons of people, and I don’t like huge crowds, and it’s even harder when you’ve got kids. When I go, I’m a sucker for the classics. I always have a soft spot for the Pronto Pups. If there’s one thing that I always return to, it’s always a Pronto Pup. I guess that’s a nostalgic thing. That and the cheese curds and the mini doughnuts, they all bring me back to my youth a little bit.”

Steven Brown Tilia and St. Genevieve, Minneapolis

“Going to the fair is a big family tradition. At this point, I would say that I’m kind of a traditionalist. I like the corn on the cob. I love the taco-burrito lady; she’s across from the birthing barn. She’s been there forever. It’s not even Mexican food. I don’t know what you’d call it, but no State Fair trip is complete without it. Famous Dave’s, that’s my big adventure stop. He always has chocolate-dipped bacon. It’s embarrassing that I love it so much. I love wandering through the Food Building and seeing what’s new, but that’s not why I go. To be honest, it’s more about hitting the tried and true. It’s like going to the pig barn to see the giant pig. If I don’t do that, it’s like I didn’t go to the State Fair.”