OK, the Fair takes a lot of knocks at this time of year—I should know, I've doled out my share. But there are many reasons why this annual twelve-day parade of toothless carnies, drunken hooligans, unscrupulous vendors, mediocre musical acts, snake oil salesmen, hucksters, and tackily clad auslanders is the most wonderful time of the year. Just avoid the leery eye of the Ginsu salesman in the Horticulture building and you'll be OK.
1) The food: Say what you like, but the foot-longs, cheese curds, donuts, gyros, brats, cinnamon rolls, etc., all taste best devoured au pleine aire at the Fair. The gelato at the Pizza Palace alone is worth the hassle it takes to get one. Best bites all week for me are the lamb gyros in the food building, the jerk pork at West Indies Soul, the Cinnie Smith mini-cini-buns and Carl's Gizmo Sandwich.
2) Being a dad at the Fair is new for me . . . see the pic—that's Noah in the front with his buddy August in the back. This was their first time at the Little Farm Hands and Rishia and I kvelled with parental pleasure the whole time (as did Karla and Eric, August's parents). Watching Noah and August eat dirt, and put their hands into the gloves that 10,000 other kids also put on yesterday, fills us up with the kind of joy and germaphobia that only parents can understand.
3) The pols: From the T-paw to Stormin' Norman, from the Hatch-et Man to the kinder, gentler Amy K., all the candidates are at the Fair, and bless their hearts, they are accessible in a way that makes you think democracy still may work in this country.
4) After staring at some of the most frightening examples of humankind on the planet, and sitting in the Fox and KTLK booths watching the strolling hordes of oversized Minnesotans, I came home and Rishia and I watched Super Size Me, the Morgan Spurlock movie about a guy who eats Mc-D's for a month. A doctor from an elite university, an ethicist in fact, poses the question, and I paraphrase here: "Why do we hector smokers, and think that it is socially acceptable to chide them, but we never tell any fat people to go easy on the cheese curds?" As someone who is technically obese, and is trying to watch his weight and exercise more, I am sensitive to the issues, but I agree with him. Overeating is suicide, but it's like being kicked to death by rabbits—it seems harmless day to day.