So where do you fit in on the State Fair Love It–Hate It meter? I love it, I worship it, I swim in its glory . . . but I have some likes and dislikes, too. You know me—always have to go sweet AND sour.
What I love:
Footlongs at Speedy's on the northeast corner of the DNR booth
Sausages by Cynthia
Giggles Northwoods Campground
Lamb on a stick with homemade mint jelly
The animal barns
Riding the Skyride and the Space Needle
Hitting Little Farmhands with my wife and our son
Nitro ice cream
West Indies Soul
Smelt at the Walleye-on-a-Stick booth in the food building
1919 root beer
What I don't:
Drunken carnies reeking of booze helping my kid in and out of the rides on the Kid Way.
The lack of safe, sanitary practices and safe food-handling in many food booths that I frequent.
The idea that folks like Marjorie Johnson won't be allowed to compete next year in the food competitions because she has a book coming out this year and would therefore be considered a professional, the same way they 86ed John Michael Lerma. What's next? Tell Barb Schaller she can't compete because she wins too much???
What I know:
That the first two items on my "don't like" agenda are problems that keep getting better, functions of inspection and training mechanisms that are improving each year. I'll be patient. They are better now than they were.
But the idea that the blue-ribbon State Fair food competitions aren't an open-entry pro-am, for lack of a better phrase, is just idiocy. I entered product one year (BBQ sauce) that was FANTASTIC and came in dead last. And it was fun for me and for all the folks who clobbered me. It's a juried competition, so David gets to beat Goliath! The more rules applied to this wonderful tradition, the worse off we all are and the greater the chance that it will go the way of the horse and buggy.
And how do they define professional? Isn't a winner of a cash prize or a gift-in-kind prize just as much a pro as Marjorie? Who is going to inspect her books to see if she makes money from her recipes collection? Entertaining the complaints from a few fringe lunatics about fairness and a level playing field re: the participation of so called "pros" in the contest is validating an argument without merit. Eliminating people like Marjorie from the competition is "fixing" something that isn't broken.
Hey Fair folks, cut out the rules! Let it be a pro-am—won't it be easier to manage? If anyone can think of a reasonable argument that convinces me otherwise, I will buy them a Hotdish-on-a-Stick!
And lastly, is it just me or is every animal born at the CHS Miracle of Birth absolutely fascinating to stare at for hours? It's amazing, and it’s one of my fave booths. What’s odd to me is that I spent the better part of last year eating them up in copious quantities in far-flung corners of the world. The baby pig and lamb in Spain—the younger the better—is one of my fave meals. Strange world.