Today is the first day of The Great Minnesota Get Together — The Minnesota State Fair. What is commonly known here as simply, “The Fair”. It is the largest state fair in the United States.
There are many, many, things to love about the Minnesota State Fair. But the one thing I love the most is how it unites us all. If I were to walk up to any of the 3.4 million people in the Twin Cities Metro Area and ask them what their state fair traditions are, every single one would have an answer. Everyone would have a story to tell about the fair, how this thing or that thing became the thing they always do, or about some offbeat thing they have found there that no one else seems to know. They might tell you the day they always go or where they always park, or the exact order they always plan their day, or the things they always have to see or eat. No matter, everyone has at least one state fair tradition and most people several.
I, of course, have my own. I always have to eat a Scotch Egg for breakfast at the stand near the livestock barns. I always have to get a malted milkshake at the Dairy Building. I always try to get a bucket of Sweet Martha’s Cookies which always overflow the top such that one can not put the lid on unless you eat a couple of dozen which are always best washed down with several glasses of milk from the “All The Milk You Can Drink For $1.00” truck (it used to be .50 cents).
Around this time of year, I often think to myself where else in America (or the world) one could find such a thing? An entire city or region or state united by the shared experience of something so fun, uplifting, and meaningful. Something so full of tradition that often spans generations and crosses culture, race, and gender. Our state fair is a great state fair made greatest by the love of all who frequent it.
I suspect it is rare and increasingly more so. Hence I (and many other Minnesotans) am always just a bit more thankful and proud to live here this time of year. And we are, rightfully, just a bit more proud of ourselves too. Because we can pass a stranger and know that no matter our differences there is something we likely share — we love The Fair.
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