Excitement is building in Minnesota this year as the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree will be coming from the Chippewa National Forest, located right here in our great state. The tree has been chosen and it is 65 feet tall. Along with the tree, our state will be donating 10,000 ornaments to help decorate it. There are several contests running to encourage artists and citizens to create works of art to send along the way, and one of those is taking place at our wonderful State Fair.
The contest has some criteria to meet including the ornament has to be less than 12 inches tall, it must be 2 or 3 dimensional, and it has to weigh less than 1/2 pound. It also has to include one of the following features from the state park logo: an eagle, Ojibwe floral bead work design, spruce or balsam fir tree, and/or elements of nature found in Minnesota such as lakes, rivers, or ecosystem.
I was able to convince my youngest daughter to design an ornament. I also decided to do it with her since they had an adult as well as a youth category. The prizes were substantial. First place was awarded $100, 2nd $50 and 3rd $25. Those are big prizes for the State Fair. Most creative or educational ribbons only award $8 for first place so this was definitely worth putting some serious effort into. Here is what we created. My daughter's is first (she wanted to wear her Christmas sweater for the photo). Mine is second.
My daughter turned out to be the proud 1st place ribbon holder at our State Fair, and she already got her $100 check in the mail. We have the option to donate the ornaments to the tree after the fair and we both decided we would send them along to Washington, D.C. We are hoping to see a presidential portrait that might happen to have our ornaments in the background. That would be pretty neat!
Update: We made it to the display at the fair last week. Here are photos of the winners. I was surprised to see that I got a 4th place ribbon, since only the first 3 ribbon holders were published on the State Fair website, so I thought I hadn't received anything for my piece. It is my first ribbon at the Fair and I am very proud of it!
This will be my final post regarding the Minnesota State Fair and as promised, this one is dedicated to the animals. I do not claim to be an expert on this, but I am pretty sure that fairs originally started because of farming. It is where farmers came to see the newest tractors and other equipment and where they would show their best animals and crops. If you've read Charlotte's Web, you know but we won't talk about what comes after the ribbon ceremony. Times have changed though, and while the animals are still an important part of the fair, they now only hold a subsection of the fairgrounds and the public's attention. Yet there are still people who come to the fair for one reason only and that is to show what they have been working on all year. It could be an ear of corn, a beautiful steer or how fast they can barrel race.
Here we have a barn for the cows, the horses, the pigs, the goats and poultry. Their own separate barns. These are very, very large barns that hold hundreds and maybe thousands of animals. We also have the "Miracle of Birth" center which has only animals that are about to give or have just given birth. This is a popular building with children and adults alike. I even heard from someone who now lives in California that the California State Fair shows videotape footage from the Minnesota Miracle of Birth Center. That might make it a national sensation.
This year I made very brief stops in the cattle building,
the goat area,
That comfy bed you see back there is not for the goats. Yes, people really do sleep next to their animals. Sometimes for days on end.
the sheep building,
Cows command a lot of respect in the animal world. Horses are terrified of them and these sheep look equally concerned. Or maybe they are simply wondering if it is a relative.
the horse barn,
the pig barn,
I'm sorry pig, but the swine barn is not my cup of tea. Kind of cute, in a Wilbur sort of way, but also kind of not cute as in this is not a speckled pig, it is a pig covered in flies.
Also housed in here is the largest boar which is so big and unsightly, I did not want to take a picture of it.
and would have stayed longer except I ran out of fair time. It was beginning to close down by the time I got there since I saved my barn visits for the last day. Earlier in the day though, I lost all track of time in the poultry building. I had no idea there were so many kinds of chickens and how beautiful they all are. I only photographed half of them when I realized I was about to miss my daughter's equestrian performance team in the big coliseum.
Now this is feeling more like my cup of tea. I'm thinking my backyard has room for a couple of these feathered friends to run around. Especially the ones with the fancy hats and furry feet. Those chickens have some serious attitude! I have a feeling my neighbors might feel differently though.
Until next year, this is a conclusion of my Minnesota State Fair report. As always, thank you for stopping by and I do hope you will visit again!
If a person had to choose one thing to do at the fair, eating food or people watching, I'm not sure which I would pick. Every year the fair gets about 50 new kinds of food. Many of them are on a stick. This year the one new food I really wanted to try was something called Comet Corn. It was described as a futuristic caramel corn flash frozen with nitrogen. Since this sounds like something that you can't get at any other time of the year, I was willing to drop the money and calorie allotment on a serving of it. I forgot to photograph it because it's hard to operate my camera while I am holding and eating food. And when I am at the fair I do not sit down, at least rarely. There is too much to do and see for any breaks. I am always moving. But I did photograph the nitrogen tank that freezes it while I was waiting for them to freeze mine because they do it one batch at a time.
The next food I had to try was a couple things I had read about from a place called Mancini's. I had the same problem though. I ate it before I photographed it. It was becoming evident that I needed a new strategy.
Here is some food I did not eat but I did photograph.
Does beer count as food? I think in Minnesota it does. Barley, hops, barley malt, malted barley...
Those are all some kind of food product that originate out of the ground and if you stopped by the Ag-Hort Building (that's what we say up here in farm country, it is short for Agriculture-Horticulture also known as another food and beer building or get a beer and walk around and look at the giant pumpkin building)
or Adrian Peterson's Christmas tree
you could have had a sampling, literally, of four different types of locally brewed Minnesota beer. There were 4 or 5 of those stations, each unique, so if you tried them all, then 4x5 = I hope the swinging hammer ride wasn't your next stop.
When it's all said and done though, I think most people would agree that the hands down #1 mandatory food stop is Sweet Martha's Cookies. I don't get it and I used to be offended when my kids insisted we drop $15 on a bucket of chocolate chip cookies. What about MY chocolate chip cookies? I don't care that they are hot and gooey, that they just came out of the oven. Mine are like that too when they are hot off the press. Maybe it's a quantity thing. They say you get 3-4 dozen in a bucket. When I make cookies, I put half of the dough in the fridge for another day. So I suppose if I made all the cookies and put them on the table in a bucket and imposed no limitations, then maybe, just maybe, they might like mine as much as her's.
I finally caved in though and had one. Then I had another. Then I had another. And then it happened. As they say...if you give a mouse a cookie. 3 cookies was my personal limit before needing a drink of some sort. Some people are really smart and they get a bucket and head straight to the all-you-can-drink milk stand. Note: the fair did not put the cookie stand anywhere near the milk stand. It is several fair blocks away. But the wise get their bucket and bee-line it to the milk stand.
Now that it's a couple of weeks after the fair, I imagine that Sweet Martha has boarded her multi-million dollar yacht funded with cookie money and is sailing off in the sunset to her own private island or vineyard. She is one smart lady. Who would've thought a simple chocolate chip cookie could build an empire? I bet the deep-fried pickle people are thinking the same thing right now. Or maybe the fried alligator people. Which raises an interesting question. Why do the alligator people always run out of gator? They are giant animals. I'm just glad they sell frozen grapes there so I can look like I'm getting some gator. It's one of the healthiest treats a person can get at the fair and look cool doing it.
That is a wrap for my food report from the fair. I hope you will come back for the animal report and next week to see what the second floor of the State Capitol looks like! Thanks for stopping by!
Minnesota is in the thick of its biggest party of the year, the Minnesota State Fair. It is one of the best places besides the Mall of America to do some serious people-watching. Imagine all the people, usually over 100K and sometimes 200,000 a day. Now imagine all the places they are and the things they are doing and all the picture potential. The possibilities are immeasurable. Here is an infinitesimal percentage of them.
Originally published Sep. 5, 2012
Sadly, the Minnesota State Fair has once again come to a close. Now begins the wait until next year. I have a legitimate reason to enter the fairgrounds the day after the fair closes, so was able to grab a few shots of the post party clean-up.
Then again, there is always the Renaissance Festival which runs through September…
Originally published Aug. 25, 2012
Finally, it is State Fair time again! Many Minnesotans have been waiting 365 days for this. How many you say? The last few years have averaged around 1.7 million visitors. Our state has a population count of around 5.3 million, so I’d say almost one-third of our state attends the fair.
I’m trying to eat lean until then, kind of like going on a diet before Thanksgiving.
This way, I will not feel guilty about the eating world’s best cheese curds, bacon ice cream (hoping I run into Jim Gaffigan there http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CaK9bjLy3v4), deep-fried candy bars or Twinkies,
foot long corn dogs, cotton candy, fudge puppies (waffles dipped in chocolate then sprayed down with a can of whipped cream) and the borderline mandatory stop at the all-you-can-drink milk stand – to cleanse yourself, of course, (you feel so good being there with all the unhealthy food choices around, it’s like going to church at the fair) all in one day!
I have been doing fair photography for 14 years now. I started with black and white film but have been all digital since 2005. I can’t wait to see what I come up with this year.
If you are nearby, I hope you will come too and enjoy the “Great Minnesota Get Together.”
See you at the fair!
Originally published Sept. 13, 2011
I have been doing fine art photography at the State Fair for several years now. If you are reading this from outside Minnesota, you may not know that our State Fair is loved by many residents and gets around 1.7 million attendees a year, although I think a few are probably repeat visitors.
Photography can run the gamut from food, people, animals, night life, rides, games, fireworks, and live music either as single subjects or in a multitude of combinations. I have so much fun that I wish they would come up with an unlimited pass to all 12 days of the fair.
This year I decided I would take advantage of some of the rides with elevation in order to gain a higher perspective. That included the Sky Ride, the Chair Lift Ride, and the big Ferris Wheel on the Midway.
Here are a few of the aerial images taken during my 3 visits. Only a little over 300 days to go until next year!
I am a photographer who lives in Minnesota. I blog about Minnesota, photography, music, food and miscellaneous topics.