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Sep 4, 2011 11:51 PM

state fair prices: shocking

7 bucks for a foot long corn dog. 8 for a turkey leg. very few non beverage items for under 5 bucks. the only good news: it helps avoid over eating. our group of 3 shared one item at a time.

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  1. I agree the prices are outrageous. I truly don't understand all the hype for mediocre, high fat, high priced food. I guess it is the memories of the fair that enhance the tastes. I find most fair food overwhelmingly pricy, not particularly good tasting. But, I did not grow up in MN or grow up going to State Fairs. I don't understand the "on a stick" phenomenon. Its not in my blood. But then again, I am not a Minnesotan and just don't have the emotional investment in the state fair. I find it prohibitively expensive for most people of low or moderate means. It becomes elitist in its populist sentiments.

    2 Replies
    1. re: docfood

      there always seems to be an imbalance where the Fair is this mega junk and fast food festival. yes, you have the animal barns and the grandstand. a limited number of educational/informational exhibits. but it's alll food, food, food. and like the poster said, food that's mediocre and overpriced. along with claustrophobic crowds.. I admit it: I go and then wonder why. the state fair people have done a good job of brainwashing people-- that this is THE way to end summer. The Great Minnesota Get Together. the crowds seem to me to be heavily on the young and family side of things. hope they have big wallets.

      1. re: MarkG

        There's plenty of food that isn't junk if you want to eat it. How is corn on the cob junk? Milk? Pork chops? (So what if it's on a stick--that's just so you can eat it without having to sit down.) You may not like the price of the turkey leg, but it's not junk. There's watermelon, grapes, nuts, and so on. There is a lot of excitement about new foods, especially if it's on a stick, but, c'mon, live a little, it's just once a year. The whole "on a stick" thing is intended to make the food more portable. It's gotten a little gimmicky, but as long as the food tastes good, I'm not bothered by it.

        And, yes, the fair is mostly about food. It's really the culmination of all of the local fairs, which is primarily a rural thing, and rural, in this state, pretty much equates to agriculture. I disagree about the "limited" number of exhibits. There are so many exhibits I want to see I usually make two trips every year. Usually I eat two meals--breakfast and lunch--on each trip. I'm at the fair by 7am when it's cool, quiet, and not crowded and I can eat my breakfast like a civilized human being. I'm out of there by noon, before it gets too hot, loud, or crowded.

        Here's my typical minimum must-do agenda (not in any particular order):

        Breakfast: the Peg or Salem Lutheran Church. Sometimes I branch out (as I, regrettably, did on my first trip this year.)

        Dairy Building/Empire commons: viewing of butterheads, checking out winning meat products (I've discovered some awesome small-town meat markets/butchers this way), pick up free dairy, wild rice, pork, and beef recipes from various booths.

        Ag-hort building: check out the crop/seed art; go see the big pumpkins and other prize winning vegetables; check out winning honey entrants. Talk to the beekeeper. Pick up this years free honey recipes.

        4-H building: admire the kid's projects, catch part of a show or a demo.

        Creative activities--look at all of the canning and baking entrants, figure out if anyone if I know won. Maybe catch a baking demo.

        UofM building--admire this year's trophy, if there is one. (FLOYD!)

        Fine Arts--admire all of the art

        Eco Experience--there's always something wacky and new, usually something food-related--though I didn't make it this year.

        Animal barns: must do: big pig, litter of piglets. Other animals optional, though I like the turkeys.

        DNR building: admire the fish pond, analyze the junk sculpture; climb the fire tower.

        DFL booth: see if anyone of interest will be there. Sign petitions, whatever.

        Radio station booths: check out who the live radio personalities are.

        Somewhere in there I usually stop for coffee at the Farmers Union. Pop at the MIdway Men's Association. And lunch where ever. (On my visit #2 this year it was the salty all-deep-fried lunch: Cheese curds and french fries. All shared, of course.)

        That's usually all I can do in two, relaxed, early morning visits.


    2. Yeah, I've never understood the appeal. Hot, dusty, smelly, crowded, mediocre food.....but I usually get skewered by others when I voice these things. Its supporters do seem to try to imply that the fair is some sort of civic pride/support thing, which is contradicted by the large number of for-(large)profits vendors doing business there. I know someone who has a food booth there, and she told me that they could easily live for an entire year on the profits made each summer at the state fair. No crime in earning money; I support that concept entirely. It's just that I'm not going to buy into the whole civic pride thing and be shamed into going.

      I do enjoy the Renaissance Festival, although it has deteriorated over the years. The food used to be actually good there; now it's just O.K. But it is a more pleasant and entertaining place to be than the fair, at least.

      7 Replies
      1. re: sandylc

        I totally get the issue with it being dusty and overpriced as well as mediocre but for you to claim that the RenFest is somehow better just makes me question your entire comment.

        Even when I went for free on Media Day many years ago, it was all of those things: dusty, mediocre and overpriced (even though food, beer and admission were free). Honestly, while I don't care for either, at least I can see the draw to the State Fair. RenFest, however, is a total waste of money IMO. Being that it costs more to get in and the food is the same price I really just don't see any reason to go there at all.

        1. re: Bill Roehl

          It's my opinion based upon numerous personal experiences and I'll stick with it, thank you. I am sorry you didn't appreciate the Renaissance Festival; as I stated, it really isn't what it used to be many years ago, but I still prefer it to the fair.

        2. re: sandylc

          I don't like the large vendors at the Fair, either. I expressed this same sentiment in the other State Fair thread. I rather not have my fair experience diluted by experiences and foods I can have any other day of the year, because, as you point out (and as I said in the other thread), it's hot and crowded and a pain to get to. But, nevertheless, I don't really go to the fair for the food. I go to the fair for all of those exhibits and such. (I don't know about you, but I just don't see a lot of butter sculpture or seed art in my every day life.)

          But just because food isn't my primary reason for going to the fair, doesn't mean I don't like to eat good food while I'm there. And, I'd say there is good food to be found. Would I eat this same food outside of a fair setting? Maybe. I don't know. The honey ice cream, yes. The cheese curds? Once a year, sure. Some of these foods--fries, shakes, cream puffs--etc. can certainly be found during non-fair time, but I eat them so rarely because I try to avoid fried and sugary foods in general. Fair food for me is a bit of an indulgence, though some years I've gone and eaten nothing sugary or fried. It just depends. But, even so, there's only so much I can indulge, even at the Fair. Half a thing of fries and half a thing of cheesecurds was the most I could manage at my last visit. Any more than that, and I would be very sorry.

          I haven't been to the Renaissance Festval in MN, but I've been to it in other places. If it's the same food as I've experienced in the other locations, wow, it's certainly no place I'd go solely for the food.

          I don't see why you should be shamed in going to the fair. If you don't like butter sculpture and seed art and looking at whose pie took first place, well then there's no point in going. Certainly not for the food alone. I actually think those things are interesting, but if you don't, I won't judge you. (Or I will, but only a little. :) ). But, if you think the rest of us are going just for the food, then you're probably mistaken.


          1. re: sandylc

            I agree the Renaissance festival is more entertaining. I think the food at the Renaissance is significantly worse than the State Fair, and just not good by any stretch of the imagination. The turkey legs are ok, but I can't name another food there that is even passable as food. Campbells soup in a bread bowl?

            1. re: galewskj

              Anyone going to the Ren Fest for the food is missing the point. It's not about the food (although this year I did manage to sniff up an excellent cup of coffee). I don't mind the soup stand - if you get the drunken chili it's pretty decent, and the apple dumpling a la mode was nice (though half of that was probably that I was getting very hot and the ice cream would have tasted good no matter what).

              If I were looking for fine dining, I wouldn't be driving out to East Nowhere and walking around with a bunch of nerds carrying swords and screaming about pickles, ya know? ;)

              1. re: shadowfax

                I agree completely. I was just responding to someone else's comment comparing the food at the renaissance festival favorably to the state fair. The state fair food is what it is, the food at the renaissance is lousy.

          2. Hmmm... I just got a nice sit-down breakfast--eggs, toast, ham-- at the Peg, with table service, for $7 ($8 with coffee)--tip on top of that, of course. Nothing fancy, but a solid meal. I guess it just depends on what you get. These vendors only have 12 days to recoup their costs, and some of those buildings aren't cheap. Epiphany DIner said it was closing because they estimated it would take 5 years to recover the costs of capital repairs that were needed.

            That said, there are very few items I don't share at the fair, mostly because I don't need the caloric hit.


            1. Maybe next year it should be re-named the Minnesota State Unfair.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Veggo

                For planning purposes outside food and beverages are allowed on the fairgrounds if the price of the food is a real problem.

                1. re: Samalicious

                  Or, you can get your hand stamped and go tailgate in the parking lot. I saw a couple of families doing that on my way out this year and it looked like they were having a fantastic time.


              2. In Tucson we have the Fourth AVenue street Fair twice a year. I've been going since the very beginnig, so have watched the food prices rise. Oddly enough, the beer prices don't go over the moon, probably because the neighborhod associations run them as designated charities. I've watched the chicken sticks go from a dollar to four dollars, for one litttle standard skewer. They and all the others have a more or less captive audience, it's usually hot, being Tucson, and I'm sure they all get together and bump up the prices en toto so that nobody tries to undercut the mob and therefore get probably burned down one unfortunate night. Not unionized, but not far off. Just my opinion, I have no idea if this shaizen (sp) actually goes on, but it wouldn't surprise why would it not go on everywhere, is what i'm getting at