We did our annual pilgrimage to the fair today, though it was markedly different than past years, but that wasn’t really a bad thing.
First off, we were out of the door right around 7 this morning. Jenni was working at the Luther Seminary booth under a tent near the Grandstand at the MPR Day at the Fair. She had drawn the 8-10 a.m. shift, which we decided would work out well with the family schedule to get there, have the kids do some things that they want to do that aren’t really parental favorites, and by the time they were finished, we could commence with the family activities.
So we needed to actually arrive at the fair by 7:30, which meant that taking our usual park and ride option was out since those don’t open until 8. So for the first time since I was a kid, I parked at the fair.
Parking there brought back a slew of memories–Julie and I waking up very early to be ready to pile into the car and head out and park in just about the same lot that my family parked in today. I have no idea what parking there cost my parents when I was young, and frankly, I probably don’t want to know: parking on the grounds costs $12 these days. But I figured that was the best option, given the circumstances.
But when we were young, the early start and parking in the north lot meant that we made our way through machinery hill. Julie and I would climb in, on, and around every tractor we could find, disappointed if the doors were locked, and thrilled to get in to one of the monster-sized machines and play with the switches and knobs. That, friends, was the closest I’ve ever come to imagining a life as a farmer.
Machinery hill these days is not what it once was. There are some tractors, but there are car displays, more booths for various things, the “Giant Sing Along” (a mass karaoke game), and the pet center. But, they were all closed when we entered the fairgrounds: most buildings don’t even open until 8. We parked two rows away from the gate and then walked down the middle of half-empty streets while the fair was still asleep. It’s an odd calm before the proverbial storm, because by the time we left at 4 p.m., the streets were packed curb-to-curb with fairgoers, and there couldn’t have been a single vendor not doing business at that moment.
In Carousel Park, the kids and I helped Jenni get the Luther booth set up and ready to roll, and then, after I finally realized it was very odd to see the Grandstand closed, we headed on our way for a couple of hours.
I’m the organizer and planner at the fair for our family: I ask everyone what things they want to do and foods they want to eat, and I make sure that all of the items on the list are accomplished before we leave. The kids got their round-trip ride on the Skyride and some tickets and time on the Midway. We spent time in the dairy building, Ag/Hort, the International Bazaar, the Frontier Village, and wandered the vendors in the Grandstand. Patrick took his ride down the Giant Slide–in fact, he was the 7th or 8th paying customer of the day to ride down the slide. We had our Pronto Pups, french fries, ice cream cones, pork chop, pizza, and even a crepe and a couple of apples. We did everything on the list, even down to getting the annual “Cheese on a Stick” photo (now in it’s 8th year):
And we even got on TV (WCCO video so there are ads, but we’re just behind and to the left of Al Franken’s head…not sure what that means cosmically or politically, but it is what it is):
And yes, I was one of those people who was talking to someone on their phone about being on TV. It was my mom, confirming she could see us. I blame her. We just called to tell her we might be on TV for the news. We were on screen a few more times, but nothing that registered much in their online clips.
So, at 4 o’clock, we left the fair, exhausted but happy, and came home to collapse and just enjoy the day. We did everything we wanted to. It was a good day.
See you tomorrow.