A fair, usually held annually in some central location (or important city) in a U.S. state. (The South Carolina state fair, for example, is held for about ten days in the fall, usually October, in Columbia. The Florida state fair is ten days in February in Tampa.) Generally they are substantially bigger than a county fair.

State fairs usually have agricultural exhibits and competitions, such as the 'Swine Show' mentioned on the Florida State Fair website, carnival-type rides (nothing so big that it can't be removed from the fairgrounds later so that they can hold a rock festival there), lots of food concessions selling things like elephant ears and cotton candy, booths selling souvenirs, booths where you can in theory win stuffed animals, and small shows and concerts on some evenings. Fun for all in a non-sophisticated sort of way.

I recently attended the Minnesota State Fair, here in lovely St. Paul, Minnesota. Twas quite the experience.

It seems as if the State Fair here is quite the big deal. It's been the hot topic in the major newspapers of the area, the Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press, for the last month or so. Each day the paper prints guides to fair fair, listing foods, rides and other various entertainments to be had. I'm not sure if this excitement is specific to just the Twin Cities area, or if it extends throughout the entire state. It certainly is not a phenomenon that I've witness whilst living in either Ohio or Maryland.

There are certain things that one must do to have the quintessential experience at the fair. My personal favorite activity was sampling all the various foods that were available.

There seems to be some sort of fascination with 'food on a stick'. I'll list the various kinds of food which can be had on a stick at the fair:

I assume this putting everything and its brother on a stick holds some practical purpose, namely that you can easily hold anything that you're eating. It's rather hard to find anywhere to sit as there's gazillions of people in a rather smallish space.

Other fun and excitement can be had checking out all the animals, be they cows, sheep, pigs, horses, or even humans. There's even some reptiles for the more adventurous. Also you can wear a silly looking paper pickle hat, check out the Dairy Queen (beauty queen, not fast food establishment), score all the milk you can drink for half a buck and watch some guy sculpt the Butter Queen's likeness in an 85 pound block of butter.

The Minnesota state fair is a pretty big thing around here, though contrary to what Modnar said, I haven't seen everything there, or everything's brother, on a stick or not. I have seen Alligator on a stick, Internet on a stick (A jewel case with a tongue-depressor glued to the back), Pork-chop on a stick, the best damn grilled corn I've ever had, concerts every night in the Grandstand, as well as several concerts per day at each bandshell, and lots of teenagers.

A favorite tradition I've had with some friends, is we go to a cookie booth (I can't remember the name of it, but it's right by the 92.5 KQRS booth, and buy a bucket of cookies, then go over to the milk booth and buy a cup for $0.25 for unlimited refills of the coldest, tastiest milk and warm, soft cookies you can imagine. (At least they taste this good after eating grease on a stick all day, walking around hog and cow barns and machinery hill, a godsend to manhood! Not really, but it's fun to wander and pretend I'm 10 again and climb on tractors and look at all the concept cars that each manufacturer has coming out next year. (There's essentially a small car show on machinery hill between all the local dealers.)

As far as animals go, I'ver never been a huge fan of them as the fair is held in late August, and it's usually very warm and humid. Combine that with large, mostly enclosed barns full of animals and their excrement, and you get some *ahem* shall we say, lovely, aromas. But if you do see the animals, head to the pig barn to see the (if I remember right) world's largest pig. This pig is over 1000 lbs from what I can remember, and the pig has balls bigger than most people's head. As sick as that sounds, it is no joke!

The state fair is a good time for all, with plenty of activities, more thrill rides every year (like an ejection seat, giant swing, and the midway rides. The fairgrounds are located adjacent to the University of Minnesota, Saint Paul campus on Como Avenue and Snelling Avenue. It runs from the second to last Thursday (usually) in August, through Labor Day weekend, and entrance is around $5 for adults, with shuttle busses going to many different malls in the area, saving money on parking, and time getting in and out of lots.

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