Fairgoers’ Progress, or, Hot Dish on a Stick

Much like Chaucer’s storied pilgrims, my family (along with a not-insignificant percentage of other Minnesota families) makes a journey to the Minnesota State Fair pretty much every year. We thought work and other obligations might prevent us from attending this year, but luckily, at the last minute, schedules opened up and we all had free time yesterday afternoon. Typically we go in the morning, which is a wiser choice, I think. You’re hungrier, and the fair is less crowded. Still, we had a grand old time.

Follow me, will you, as I take you on a short photographic journey through the Great Minnesota Get-Together? (Click on the photos to see them bigger. Both WordPress and Flickr have changed some of their settings, and I can no longer as easily share Flickr photos on the blog).

Last year I won fame and glory through the Heavy Table’s photo contest. With that in mind, I was eager to take more food shots as we went along.

I think this is my best one:

The tag on it says, “Mildly spicy hot & sweet ‘big bombs.'” I have no idea what that means.

This big boy was in the same area. Obviously a blue-ribbon winner, but there were others there that were even bigger.

Doesn’t this look good for you? And comforting?

I think the honey display is so beautiful:

Then we got on to the real business at hand: actually eating the food. AG said, “What was it I had last year? I want one of those. I think it had a dog in it?”

No, turns out she was not talking about a corn dog. Rather, it was a fudge puppy. Basically a Belgium waffle, folded over, and stuffed with chocolate, whipped cream, and sprinkles. Kid gives it the thumbs up. I thought the chocolate was a bit waxy.

Luckily, they were near the garlic french fries, which I remembered from last year as delicious.

They still are! Paul got some mini-donut beer, which came in a glass with a sugared rim, and which he thought was pretty tasty, too.

We went on rides. AG loves the giant slide, and she went on it about 47 times.


We took the sky ride to the other side of the fair,

where AG decided she wanted to participate in the giant sing along. So she joined in on “You are my Sunshine,” with several other fairgoers, some of whom were (intentionally?) butchering the song.

Then on to the Kidway, where we rode the Ferris Wheel and she rode the swings.

I know there are differing opinions on this, but, you guys, I love deep-fried cheese curds.

I’m not sure they’re all that photogenic, however.

AG loves horses, and she has a bunch of books about girls and horse competitions. Turns out, equitation is actually a real word, and a thing that happens at the fair. I didn’t get any good shots of it, though, because we were kind of far away. We did pick out a favorite horse, a paint horse with a lovely white mane and large black markings. AG called him/her “Oreo,” but turned out its name was “Intimidazzle.” S/he won something, too. Gorgeous horse.

We missed the llama dress-up competition, but we were able to take to the ring when it was over and take photos of the winning pair.

I think the llama is supposed to be a griffin, and the owner is a steampunk griffin driver? Not sure. Is it from Harry Potter?

By then, it was kind of getting late, and we decided to make our way back to the Kidway to use up our tickets. Along the way, I snapped shots of funny signs.

(As far as I could tell, neither was anywhere near this sign).

AG wanted to ride the bigger swings, but she was too small (to my relief, frankly).

On slow shutter speed:

So, she rode the long slide (a different one!) about 83 more times, instead.

Big Slide

My absolute favorite thing at the Minnesota State Fair (to eat, anyway) is the strawberry-rhubarb malts they have in the Dairy Barn. I maintain that you can get no better malt anywhere. So, even though it was quite late by 5-year-old time, we stopped there and stood in line one more time for one of those. Or rather, Paul stood in line for the malts while AG and I admired the butter heads.

I took a photo of my delicious malt, but, well, it looks rather macabre. And I don’t want anybody to think that the malts from the Dairy Barn are anything short of amazing creamy slices of Heaven, so I won’t post it. (If you can’t get enough of these photos, you can see more in my State Fair 2014 album on Flickr.)

Then we hopped on our bikes (did I mention we bike to the fair? Best way to do it, in my opinion. No muss, no fuss), clipped lights on ‘cuz it was late, and rode home. 

‘Til next year, when I think I’ll have to try the deep fried baklava.


Jane Merwin: January 22, 1947 – November 10, 2013

My mother-in-law passed away early Sunday morning.

Carol, Naomi, Jane, 2004

She had had various forms of cancer over the last eight years, but seemed to keep beating it. I guess I started to think she was going to beat it forever, which of course is stupid, but even after the last diagnosis I wasn’t overly concerned.

Jane and Ralph, 2006

She passionately loved the Packers, her cottage up North, her numerous friends of all ages in Wausau, Green Bay, Eagle River … all over Wisconsin. She enjoyed Fantasy NASCAR (I didn’t even know that was a thing until I met her); well, actually, she enjoyed telling her husband which guys to pick for Fantasy NASCAR, and then ribbing him if he didn’t pick the way she told him to. She was a gracious, energetic, and extremely generous hostess. She and my father-in-law were never happier than when entertaining in the bar they had in their basement.

Merwins, 2007

Above all, she adored her family, and she was completely enchanted with Aria.

Hospital visit from Grandpa & ma Merwin

It is so unfair that Aria and she only got to have four-and-a-half years together.

With a new quilt from Aunt Lori

I asked Aria what I should write about Grandma Jane in this post.
Aria and Jane at Aria's first birthday party

She said, “You should say, ‘Grandma Jane: I wish you could have stayed longer. I love you.’

Grandma Jane smooches Aria

That’s what you should say.”

After dinner


So do we all, Jane. So do we all.

Aria's 2nd birthday

Aria & Jane



I typically work out in the morning. And by “work out” I mean, “take a walk” (a 90-minute walk, though!) or some low-key elliptical in the basement (if it’s too cold, rainy, or what-have-you). Yesterday morning, though, my throat was a bit scratchy, and I just said, “Ugh. I’ma gonna stay in bed where it’s nice and cozy.” (I said it to myself, though, so as not to wake anybody up).

And the morning just went downhill from there. AG woke up late, and dawdled, and I snapped at her, and I was late to work, and I just was in a foul mood all day. So last night, I said to spouse, “Unless I’m sick tomorrow morning – like, really sick, I am exercising.” I think I need the extra time in the morning by myself, the getting the blood flowing, the reflection … whatever it is, I need it. This has happened before when I skipped a morning constitutional* for no good reason.

Of course, that promise was made before the 1:30 wake-up call occasioned by AG’s … ah, need to toss her cookies.** Poor kiddo. On top of that, I had forgotten that she had had pizza and raspberries for dinner the night before, so at 1:30 a.m. I thought she was dying or something. (Note – she appears fine now; we think the raspberries might have been to blame).

But! I did make it up this morning to get some exercise, so I’m in a better mood today.

Better, but more tired. Oh, so tired.

*Not meant in the euphemistic sense.
**Meant in the euphemistic sense.


Bernie and Roger circa 1944

Maternal Grandparents, circa 1944

Both my maternal and my paternal grandfathers served in the Army (I think it was the Army) in World War II. I don’t believe either of them saw battle (note to self: check on this).

I never knew my paternal grandpa; he died when my dad was 15. My maternal grandpa is still with us, although he’s been struggling with Alzheimer’s for some time now. He still knows who were are, though.

I’m going to give him a call right now to wish him a happy Veteran’s Day.

Monday Miscellany

A gaggle of (I hope) goodies for your Monday consumption:

Alarm clock

  • Guilt is a better motivator than hostility.
  • Actual sentence that came out of my mouth this weekend, directed toward my three-and-a-half-year old: “Pick up your toys or we won’t be able to do yoga tonight.” Pretty sure yogis would not approve of the use of yoga as a motivation stick, rather than a carrot. And probably wouldn’t approve of it as a carrot motivator, either.
  • My most popular tweet last week:

  • AG doing downward-facing dog:
    Downward facing dog

Happy Monday, everyone!