Another State Fair Has Come and Gone.
We do things a little differently here at Food Works HQs. Where to start? The time one of us devoted a full day’s work trying to source live crickets for a cooking demo? Or maybe the time one of us once opened a UPS box with a whole frozen hog’s head inside? Or the fact that we’re all on a first name basis with Andrew’s favorite taxidermist? Our office is not your normal 9-to-5 work setting.
This extends to our office Holiday party. Yours might involve a December egg nog-n-ugly sweaters fete or a fancy dinner downtown. At Food Works, we celebrate in August at the Minnesota State Fair. Andrew, his wife Rishia and their son Noah are fair-obsessed and go all 12 days of the annual spectacle. The rest of us are fairly satisfied with a one-day trip, hitting all the highlights. It’s the best day of the year, mainly because we’re out of the office and eating cheese curds. Here are our highs and lows from this year’s fair experience:
- AZ decided he should open food stand across from the Miracle of Birth Center called The Miracle of Lunch. We’ll save you the menu’s details.
- Chardonnay-fueled ideating led two of Carla Wood’s friends (of Gizmo sandwich fame) to pack up and drive all the way from Iowa to surprise Carla at the fair. That’s friendship, people!
- It’s next to impossible to not look a little angry while eating corn on the cob.
- There is something a little sick and twisted about placing the Turkey To Go stand across from the poultry barn.
- I’m sorry, but Journey with new frontman Arnel Pineda is not Journey. End of discussion.
- There’s still no better sandwich at the fair then Carl’s Gizmo torpedo sub.
- Sometimes you gotta have a Hey Eleanor moment and try the giant swings. They’re a lot higher than most of us realized.
- Bizarre food doesn’t make Andrew Zimmern puke. The giant swings on the other hand…
- The best thing at the fair might be the Colorado Peaches sprinkled with chili-lime salt at the Midtown Global market stand. Yes, we know they’re not fried.
- Two polarizing new foods at this year’s fair: Blue Barn’s chicken in a waffle & the Blue Moon Dine-in’s SnoRibbons (a fusion of cotton candy, flaky shaved ice and creamy layered snow).
- Our whole office agreed that the Blue Cheese & Corn Fritz with a fresh herb chimichurri at the Blue Barn were the best new food at the fair.
- O’Gara’s pretzel curds and Smoothies & Jurassic Dogs’ schnitzel strips tied for worst food debut. Mainly because they completely failed at what could’ve been an amazing food product. Disappointment city!
- Rishia Zimmern is so fair-obsessed that Sweet Martha herself granted her a locker space for the duration of the Great Minnesota Get-together. She’s also such a big freeze baby that she can don a polar fleece on a 75 degree day and still be cold.
- Dusti Kugler is afraid of horses, chickens and turkeys, but not pigs.
- The apple cider freezie is still the best deal at the fair.
- If you don’t like crowds, this year’s fair was not your jam. Last Saturday smashed the attendance record, with 252,092 people crowding the fair grounds.
- We like the new stuff at the West End, but Heritage Square’s kitsch was deeply missed.
- Breaking plates with a baseball, even for a tacky stuffed animal, is totally worth the stress release.
- No matter if you’re 13, 27, 40 or 53, everyone knows the words to “Twist and Shout.”
- You’re never too old for rides.
- Where in the Sam Hill is all of the Vietnamese food we crave on a hot day? C’mon! Give us a spring roll/bun salads/bahn mi, preferably not on a stick.
- The key to great fair food? Take pride in what you’re serving. Talk to your customers. Smile. Hire people who care. Make your food from scratch, don’t just buy frozen food from Sysco and throw it in a fryer. Fair food doesn’t need to be (and probably shouldn’t be) complicated, just actually give a shit about what you’re making.
- New foods come and go, but the classics are forever. We’re talking to you, Sweet Martha/Speedy’s/Mouth Trap/Original Cheese Curds/Kiwanis Malts/Gizmo/French Fries/Tom Thumb Mini Donuts.
- Andrew’s buddy Tony (former secret service, nbd) thought the rides and haunted house were too scary. Proof that fear is subjective.
- The best place on earth for people watching. Some things never change.