Sunday, September 6, 2009

Finding love at the state fair



As a reporter in Texas, I covered the county fair each year. I even entered pralines once and won first place (though that was only because my dear friend Joannie taught me how to make them a week before and I had a bit of beginner's luck). But I was never exactly "taken" by these yearly events.

When I moved up north, I quickly learned how much Minnesotans adore their state fair, otherwise known as The Great Minnesota Get Together. So for years I tried my ever-loving best to love the state fair, too. And I failed miserably.

Here's what fair lovers talked about: the foods on a stick, the animals, Garrison Keillor at the Grand Stand, people-watching, cheese curds (cheese curds?), fireworks, Sweet Martha's Cookies, all the milk you could drink, talking with politicians, roasted corn, the big slide, the seed art, newborn animals, and more.

And here's what I experienced: difficult-to-find parking, crowds, lines, lines, lines, food I could not afford, sweat, tired feet, and 3 kids who I was sure would get lost forever and who could never be happy simultaneously.

Sadly, I concluded the state fair was not for me. And each year the end of August would roll around, and once again I'd hear much anticipation and thrill about the state fair.

Years passed, my kids found their own reasons to like the fair, and I avoided it.

But one August a few years ago, I tried an experiment. I announced to my family that I was going to go to the fair all by myself and try one last time to find something to love about it.

Mr. B drove me to a nearby mall where I could hop on a bus and ride to the fair and not deal with parking. So far so good. He wished me good luck, I kissed him goodbye, and off I went all by myself.

Once I arrived I found a map and chose my destinations. About 2 hours into the experiment I was having a good-enough time, but I still wasn't thunderstruck. So onward I went. I wandered into a building where all kinds of gadgets were being hawked. I waited my turn to pass through the crowd and get close to a display of soaps that looked interesting. As I was smelling one, I casually turned my head to look across the row to the other side.

And there, much to my surprise, was Mr. B looking back at me. 

Thunder struck.

Here's how he tells the story: 

After he watched me get on the bus and leave, he noticed that I had left my pop (ie, soda) in the car. He picked it up and realized I hadn't finished it. So he thought, What the heck, I'll just get on the next bus and take it to her. (Yep, he's silly like that.) 

He got to the fairgrounds, and in the distance, he saw me overhead crossing the footbridge to enter. And then I drifted into the crowd and was gone. So he thought to himself, Now where would Kathleen be likely to go? He followed his hunch and it took him 2 hours, but sure enough, he found me.

Now, I ask you, what are the chances?

Do I like the state fair now? OK, I admit there are moments, like someone who has fallen in love for the first time.

And each year that we go now, we go together

And I also like cheese curds.

Image by bikini sleepshirt
Image by thehoneybunny
Image by Mordac

11 comments:

steven said...

hi kathleen, a great story!!! i used to go to what is called "the canadian national exhibition". similar to a state fair. i loved the food samples, the hustle and bustle, the freebies - i always came home with a bag of brochures and samples of things that were absolutely useless to me - but they were free!!! i haven't been back for years for one reason or another. this story brought me to think about why not . . . . . . i've already missed this year's as it's on the last days of summer. hmmmm maybe next year. steven

Alix said...

So I'm reading about Mr B thunderstriking you and actually got one of those honest-to-god chills up my spine!

I'm dyin' if I'm lyin'.

Now I love the Great Minnesoata Get Together too. See ya there next end of August, ya'll. Mr B's got the drinks covered, right?

♥ Braja said...

So lovely Kathleen.....

Janie said...

What a great story. Your husband must be a wonderful guy. I've never been fond of the state fair, but I probably would be if I'd had such a great surprise there.

Rudee said...

This was a lovely story, Kathleen. When we go with kids in tow, it becomes a chore sometimes. For me, it's better without them. I spend a lot of time with the animals, or at the urban garden and the community center where art and textiles are displayed. I line up for stuffed cabbages at the Polish Kitchen and again for Elephant Ears.

The governor said in her last state of union address that Michigan can no longer participate in the fair. It'll go away and that huge plot of land in the city will likely become yet another strip mall. We lack visionaries here.

Renie Burghardt said...

Now that is one sweet story of love and devotion!

I'm not fond of fair's, state or otherwise. But if Garrison Keillor were to be there, I might consider going. I actually like him!

Are cheese curds fried cottage cheese or something? Never heard of them. But they sound good.

Happy Labor Day!

Huggies!

Pyzahn said...

Ahhh, what a fun story. I haven't been to a fair in years. Did they have a display of weird stuff carved in butter?

I was just thinking the other day I hadn't been to a carnival in a long time. I liked them better than fairs...no livestock smell.

The other night at the baseball game I was very dismayed to see them selling cotton candy in plastic bags, for heaven's sake. That takes all the froth out of the spun sugar. Used to love watching the vendor twirl the pink stuff around that paper cone. Childhood magic.

♥ Boomer ♥ said...

Awwwww....this is a great story and a beautiful peek into your lovely life!

jinksy said...

I wonder if that translates as cottage cheese, or yoghurt? Ah, no - I've just Googled and found the answer - they aren't! Sound interesting, though...

Derrick said...

Hi Kathleen,

I'm a sucker for a story! I used to love fairs as a child and might still be tempted to go on some of the rides but the idea of the fair doesn't "grab" me so much nowadays. Each August, the town of St. Andrews, where we used to live, has a small fair right in the town centre - a medieval town with fairground rides is NOT a good thing!

Grace Albaugh said...

Kathlene, I've been going to the fair by myself for years. It's the only way I go. I spend hours lost in the crowd, food, tractor and animals. Then at about 6:00 I head over to the fine arts and craft buildings and get lost in the talent that creats so many wonderful things. It's glorious!

I'm also lucky that there is a shuttle just down on my corner. I don't have to drive at all. So glad you have been converted.

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