Trini Impressions of the Minnesota State Fair

In Trinidad, we have these old school things called “Bazaars” … growing up in Trinidad in the 90’s, every village or two seemed to have an annual one to raise money for the local community. I liked going to them because I would see all the people from the village, get some good food and maybe some gossip. The American version of this would be a State Fair … of course, this is like a “Bazaar” multiplied by a factor of about a 1000000. Within 3 hours of touching down at the Minneapolis-St Paul airport, we were on a shuttle bus heading to the Minnesota State Fair. If you’re wondering why we didn’t drive there … just think about the traffic and finding parking at an event that draws 100,000-230,000 people daily!

I am pretty happy that they ban guns here … just sayin’!

The Minnesota State Fair goes on for 12 days and to me it seems like a place to consume improbable foods battered and fried sitting on a stick. Every year there’s a list of new food booths, serving new sorts of wild deep-fried and on-a-stick creations, so with more than 300 concessionaires serve more than 450 different offerings at the Minnesota State Fair, from turkey drumsticks and jerk-style chicken wings you can’t go hungry. Along with the food, there is the overall country theme to the whole thing. For instance, they had the “Miracle of Birth” center … so basically you could walk into an oversized barn and see a ton of pregnant animals … and for some real entertainment, you could see them giving birth. I don’t know about you guys, but watching a cow give birth is not my idea of fun or great smells.

You can even get a live video feed of animals suckling and stuff. Way too much information for me.
It wasn’t limited to Livestock, you could also go see other animals being born or what not! Totally different!

Another oddity for a Trinidadian was the presence of an all you can drink milk bar. Yep … I shit you not … there was a line up for “All you can drink Milk” … just process that in your mind for a second while you choose between regular and Chocolate. I don’t actually know how the process worked, since I’m not lactose friendly, but I do know that there is the Sweet Martha’s Chocolate Chip stand conveniently located close by … and you can get a heaping bucket of these cookies to go with your $1 milk. If you’re wondering about all that milk, here’s some fun facts about Chocolate Milk …

  1. It has the same 9 essential nutrients as white milk.  Also, the amount of sugar/sweetener added in is not that much.  (Did you know that flavored milk only contributes 3 percent of the added sugars in children’s diets?)
  2. Research shows that children who drink chocolate milk usually meet more of their nutritional needs and are NOT heavier than non-milk drinkers.
  3. Out of the 5 “Nutrients of Concern” that children do not give enough of, milk contains a healthy dose of these 3:  calcium, potassium, and magnesium.  Let’s not forget about Vitamin D, because we all know kids get less sunshine time when in school.

Sweet Martha’s Chocolate Chip Cookies are no joke … for $15 you can buy a ridiculous bucket of cookies
Her reaction says it all people!

Our friends/hosts Shanna and Bethany had a plan to it all … and on a ridiculously hot day, we had to keep hydrated. We were in the US of A, hence the hydrator of choice would obviously be Budweiser. Bethany was uber-prepared and she even came with a “beer cozy” from the D+R wedding in Guatemala three week prior.

Love that beer cozy!!!

There are a lot of Pickle stands at the fair. You can get Fried Pickles, Pickle on a Stick, Pickle Dogs or a Hot Pickle. I’m not a big Fried Pickles fan but the experts (ala D*) tell me that great Fried Pickles are perfectly dilly, salty, and crunchy…and then battered and fried to perfection and dipped in some ranch dressing.

If you’re not a fried pickle person … then how about trying a “Hot Pickle” … which is a ridiculous combination of Pastrami meat covering a combination of Cream Cheese, Jalapenos and a Pickle.

Yes seriously … that is the combination of Pastrami, Jalapenos, Cream Cheese and a Pickle!

There’s a lot of colourful and eye catching stands at the Fair. For the photographers, you definitely get bombarded with visual stimuli at the Fair. The colours and creativity behind all the signage is a sight to ponder on.

This was just too funny!

As this is Minnesota, you will not be able to escape without eating some sort of fried dairy product. The first fried dairy product was obviously Fried Cheese. The combination was described at a Fried Grilled Cheese sandwich on a stick.

Then there was the requisite Fried Cheese Curds … I don’t actually get why people love this stuff … but I also don’t eat dairy products, so I couldn’t really understand why all the ladies loved this stuff – but they did love the Fried Cheese Curds.

There’s all types of people at the Fair and with those attendance numbers, there were different political viewpoints being shared. I love our friend below waving into my camera and trying to persuade me to come have a chat about the “Tea Party” … as if I was the target demographic for Tea Party members … LOL!

After all the sampling of dairy, I was happy to run into some meat … but I didn’t expect to find a steak dinner on a stick, but that’s exactly what I ended up trying. I ended up getting a Monster Kebab … and it was some great beef. In fact, I think Minnesota beef is just fantastic … based on my steak on a stick, we went to dinner later on at Burch Steakhouse and that was one of the best Ribeye steaks I’ve ever had … but I digress.

And who doesn’t love a Tornado Potato??

I even found a roti joint at the Fair!?!?!? I’ll give Harry a separate article on the blog 😀

Another favorite were these Deep Fried Risotto Balls with a Spicy Cream Cheese dip.
Who doesn’t love Big Fat Bacon?
Bacon can cure everything!

In the end, here’s the list of stuff that was eaten and shared over a 4 hour period at the Fair … and yes I know there are starving children somewhere and that there is sadness in the world … but for now my Trini Impressions of the Minnesota State Fair will just focus on the caloric ridiculousness that the Fair was …

  1. Pastrami, Cream Cheese, Jalapenos and a Pickle together = Hot Pickle
  2. Fried Risotto Balls
  3. Fried Cheese Curds
  4. Fried Cheese on a stick
  5. Roti
  6. Doubles
  7. Steak Dinner on a stick
  8. Deep Fried Pickles
  9. Fried Green Tomatoes
  10. Big Fat Bacon
  11. Bucket of Sweet Martha’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
  12. Swedish Meatballs
  13. Lefse
  14. Sweet Corn

I suggest that if you’re in Minnesota … definitely go for a day … don’t go for all 12 days, because I think if you ate there for 12 days, you will have some serious gastro-intestinal issues, not to mention a very unhealthy cholesterol count.

About Rishiray

Rishi Sankar is a Cloud HRMS Project Manager/ Solution Architect. Over the past 15+ years, he has managed to combine his overwhelming wanderlust with a desire to stay employed, resulting in continuing stints with 3 major consulting firms (IBM, Deloitte, Accenture). He documents his adventures around the world on "Ah Trini Travelogue" with pictures and stories from the road/tuk-tuk/camel/rickshaw. You can follow him on Twitter at @rishiray and on Facebook at "Ah Trini Travelogue . He doesn't like Chicken Curry but loves Curry Chicken and is always trying to find the perfect Trinidadian roti on the road. He also doesn't like cheese and kittens ... and definitely not together. E-mail from his blog is appreciated like a 35 yr old Balvenie at

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