It would be nice if the fair regained some of it's agrarian patina. Machinery Hill is now filled with motorcycles, cars and the world's largest traveling barbecue because farm implement manufacturers no longer saw the value in showing their products to an urban audience seeking out greasy grub. Besides, our farm culture has changed. There are hardly any small family farms left. Most have been absorbed by large corporate farming groups that don't need fairs to see the latest tools or gather with neighbors.
The Minnesota State Fair may still have some ghostly remnants of it's rural past...but it is now nothing more than a glutinous gathering of society on a stick broken up by a few entertaining venues and needless retail goods. I love the Minnesota State Fair. I just thought I should get that out of the way, because when your done reading this...you may think otherwise of my intentions. I'm not a native Minnesotan. I came here willingly and with a purpose from Chicago, which is a wonderful place to live, but I liked Minnesota just a little bit better. During the 30 plus years I lived in the Windy City, I never once thought about the Illinois State Fair. So when my new friends in the Twin Cities introduced me to the Great Get Together, I was awed and amazed that so many hip urbanites went so absolutely ga-ga for such a rural convention as a State Fair. I soon learned they weren't going to inspect the latest John Deere combine, gather with friends to discuss the best in corn hybridization or even seek out and congratulate the blue ribbon winner in jams and jellies. Even then, over 20 years ago, it was, the beer, Tiny Tim's, Pronto Pups and Midway rides that drew them, and me with them, to the fair. They loved the lure of cheap, bad for you food, taking dizzying rides and gawking at the rabble of fellow Midwesterners. It was like that for many years. But somewhere in the mid '90s a shift started to take place that I am heart sickened to say I reveled in along with almost every other Minnesotan. The Great Minnesota Get Together became The great Minnesota Food Orgy. Along with an increased volume of some pretty bad food offerings, we also got the bad joke of putting food on a stick. Each year we would see who could be more inventive and "wacky" about what could be served on a thin stick of wood.
Enough already, sure there have been some great new foods to join the classics. But there has also been too many that were jokes that got out of hand. Fried "anything" is now as rampant as "crap" on a stick. Like I said, ENOUGH ALREADY !!! If the State Fair is going to be a food fair, then let's get it out of it's joke stage into an arena that would really be fun and tasty. There's a small contingent of Minnesota grown and raised products being sold by several vendors this year. (By the way, many vendors make enough money at the State Fair to do nothing else the rest of the year.) There should be more. I call for a mandate that 70% of all food products sold at the fair be grown or produced in Minnesota. I also call for a moratorium on any new fried or stick vendors. Let's see how creative or inventive vendors can be if they have to really cook.