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Aug 10, 2009 04:40 PM

Getting psyched for the Fair (MSP)

Is it too soon to talk about the Minnesota State Fair? I can hardly wait! Going to the fair is the high point of my year. (That's how you tell a REAL Minnesotan from all those fakers.)

I've started updating my obsessive list of All Foods At The Fair (link soon). As of 17 days before the fair, the Food Finder isn't working yet, but I found a list of new foods in the press kit - click on the Press Room link at the bottom of the page at . (The New Foods list is on p.85; the foods-on-a-stick list is on p.39.)

This year's theme seems to be Potatoes and Pig Cheeks, as summarized at WCCO:

Some of these new foods sound kinda good - especially the sunnies!

So, what fair treats are you looking forward to this year?


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  1. Actually, I'm contemplating what to eat for breakfast for the first time. I usually don't get there right away at the morning, but I'm staffing a booth for the group I volunteer with from 9 - 1.

    I'm interested in ideas if you've got 'em. (And I don't want to do the sit down pancake breakfasts...yawn).

    After the volunteering, I'll be doing my usual pork chop on a stick, corn and milk shake. Plus some of my wife's fries and cone of Sweet Martha's cookies.

    This will be my 20th straight year!

    11 Replies
    1. re: MSPD

      Check out the crepe stand, when I convinced my girlfriend to go early one year, we ate there and now we can't miss it. The food building has b-fast pizza and the French Meadow has warm scones with fresh fruit and whipped cream. I think everyone should give the fair an early start at least once, you get b-fast, snack, lunch, snack and something to bring home and your home buy 3pm, without having to deal with long lines and the heat. Don't get me wrong I also go a 2nd time and get there later because the later you go the better the people watching.

      1. re: robertsscotty

        Oh wow it seems every year they put out something new that just beckons me to return. Pig Cheeks now that's something I wanna die with a mouthful of. Hopefully the pork doesn't lose all moisture when impaled.

      2. re: MSPD

        If you are a coffee drinker, I highly recommend the coffee shop inside the Farmer's Union building. It's run by J&S, a St. Paul coffee shop, and it's got the best coffee in town. There is a tiny patio in the back of the building where you can almost always get a seat for some peace and quiet.

        1. re: alexstpaul

          2nd this. they had really good live modern (& uber-traditional, too) folk music last year, as well. the back patio is our default meeting place when waiting for reinforcements-- there is also the "secret bathroom" back there that tends to be less gross than the rest of the fair ;-P

          i liked the frozen coffee last year. i'm also pretty ready for my honey ice cream and fried green tomatoes!

          1. re: soupkitten

            i like the way you think sk.

            tomatoes and corn fritters, honey sunflower ice cream, the strangely compelling turkey sandwiches, alligator sausage on a stick are only some of the things im looking for. frozen apple juice pops also.

          2. re: alexstpaul

            Excellent. I'm very familiar with J&S Bean Factory but have never paid attention to coffee at the Fair.

            Strange, but honey sunflower ice cream sounds like it has some serious breakfast potential as well.

            Frankly, as the years go by, I'm less and less intrigued by Fair foods. The breakfast angle and being on the other side of a booth has returned some of the interest. Thanks for the suggestions.

          3. re: MSPD

            We always start our Fair day with a breakfast burrito from Tejas. In our case we wash it down with the first cold beer of the day, but perhaps that would be ill advised before staffing a booth.


            1. re: MSPD

              You have to get a Scotch Egg for breakfast. Yum. I can't wait either.

              1. re: MSPD

                Well, I worked every day of the fair in '06, and we got coupons for free breakfast burritos from Tejas. And I think I had one every day. They are great comfort food with eggs and cheese, potatoes, sausage and salsa. mmmm Think about sharing, though, since it is filling.
                Otherwise, I second waiting for the footlong hot dog place to open. A foot long with onions, ketchup and mustard is my mom's and now my stand by 'first thing to eat.'
                I type this as I am eating my sandwich for lunch and suddenly it just doesn't taste as good.

                Beyond all the 'new' foods, I love there is stuff that is still 'new to me.' Like last year was the first year I actually tried a Fudge Puppy. Not amazing, but pretty gooey and tasty.This year I must try the crepes. Something from the International Bazaar, too. Anybody have any good 'oldies but goodies' that are not considered stand-bys?

                1. re: daniellempls

                  Two hidden treasures I rarely see mentioned are the Gizmo sandwiches (cheesy, Italian goodness) and the Cini-minnies (miniature cinnamon rolls with your choice of icing or custard). They're fairly close to the Purina pet center.

                  This isn't super interesting, but I always have to get the Cajun fried pickles. So addicitive.

                  1. re: debbie421

                    I agree about the Gizmo sandwich. Here is a photo of one.

              2. The food is secondary. My dad took us to the fair when we were young and when we were tired we would sit on a bench and watch the different types of fair goers. My dad had a great sense of humor. He would tell us what and where each individual had come from whether it was from under a rock or from outer space. I kept the trait and handed it onto my kids. My wife hates it and thing it's totally wrong. So every year I take my kids, without my wife to enjoy the rides, animals, and the people. The kids love it and can't wait till next year to see what kinds of twisted, strange people have decided to venture out into the public eye for all of us to enjoy. As for the food Danielson's onion rings are the beat.

                1. I'm pumped, as I always am.

                  Growing up, my parents always took us to fair in the morning. I'm talking, walking through the gates before 7am, when nothing was open. We'd hit the pancake houses and I've never been particularly impressed with them. I'd wait until the first footlong hot dog stand was open, and I'd go from there.

                  My new favorite from last year was the elk burger, although I can't remember what the name of the stand's right by the lumberjack activities.

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: BigE

                    same place with the walleye cakes (!) and the salmon on the stick (just ok). what is the name of that booth - its the one that looks like a log cabin, right?

                    1. re: tex.s.toast

                      I was so delighted to read your praise of alligator sausage, and now you have to go throw the salmon on a stick under the bus? For me, that is a tier-one state fair dish. Innovative and generous plating, great flavor, and a perfect location to enjoy it (sitting down).

                      1. re: kevin47

                        between the salmon and walleye cakes there is not choice, and while i get the scandanavian heritage thing with the salmon, and know that the walleye is almost definitely canadian, ill pick the cakes over the salmon, its not bad, just not my preference (im only going to get to the fair once this year, sadly)

                        1. re: tex.s.toast

                          I think it's Giggle's. And don't forget creampuff's!

                        2. re: BigE

                          The elk burgers were at Giggle's Campfire Grill. That's one of my favorite food stops.

                          I will sadly miss the fair this year as I will be on the road traveling throughout the West the whole time of the fair. I will have other interesting food pursuits. :)

                          1. re: Davydd

                            Giggles...that was it. I'll definitely be back there.

                        3. Here is the Minnesota State Fair Food Finder website.


                          You can do a search and find whatever you may want on a stick. :)

                          1. Does anyone have a suggestion for a stand with a great bratwurst at the fair? My dad is coming to town during the fair (obviously not from the Midwest) and this is the one thing he really wants to try.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Quince

                              Check out the Ballpark Cafe and get one plus they have great garlic fries, they are not homemade fries but they toss them in garlic and parsley, they are awsome.

                              1. re: Quince

                                The Sausage Sisters stand in the food building has the normal brat, plus a range of fancy ones. They make their own sausages I believe.