It’s no secret if you’ve been following me for awhile that I love the Minnesota State Fair. Nate and I have been going to the Fair every year we’ve been together and it is one of our favorite events of the entire year, it’s practically like Christmas. If it weren’t for the fact that we got engaged in the spring, I would even say he missed an opportunity to propose at the Fair back in the day! Anyway, we knew we’d want to continue this tradition with Oliver each year too. He went to his first Fair last year and I’m excited to take him this year.
This week I had a chance to go to a preview event with some other MN bloggers to learn about some of the kid and family activities that the Fair has to offer and we were also lucky enough to sample some of the new foods! It was a super fun event and I wanted to share some of what I learned!
Fairchild the mascot and me – he was pretty flirtatious!
So let’s talk food first. It was so much fun getting to sample the new food. The vendors who prepared each item were on hand to discuss their recipes too! I made a little collage of each item here and I’ll talk about each one.
1. Stuffed Italian Meatloaf on a Stick from the Green Mill. While this isn’t an item I’m likely to go after at the Fair because I can go to the Green Mill year round, I did still enjoy the flavors of this meatloaf, it was seasoned nicely, the sauce is very tasty and you can’t go wrong with mozzarella cheese!
2. Grilled Venetian Style Pizza from Mancini’s Al Fresco. This was delightful, it was light and fresh tasting, reminds me of wood fired pizza. If you are looking for a break from some of the fried offerings at the Fair, this would be a good choice.
3. Totchos from Boulevard Grill. I loved these. Tator Tots + Nachos = Totchos! These were just the right amount of salty and a little spicy deliciousness and a nice contrast to a bunch of sweet food that we also had!
4. Grandma Deb’s Snicker Bar Salad from the The Blue Barn . YUM. They said they based this on the fruit salads that many church basement ladies make but I would eat this over any church basement lady salad, it’s fantastic! It’s got a nice sweet pudding base, the Snickers are a nice touch, the apples are tart and delicious and then it’s topped with whipped cream. I would love this as a sweet treat at the Fair!
5. Mac and Cheese Cupcake from Lulu’s Public House – I really did enjoy this, macaroni and cheese baked into a cupcake, how can you go wrong? I will admit I probably won’t seek this one out specifically though, we didn’t get to sample it, but they also are going to have a Wild Rice Benedict Muffin and I think that might be more my speed and I’ll definitely be looking for that one!
6. Salted Caramel Puff Malts and Sundaes from the Midwest Dairy Association Dairy Goodness Bar. OMG. This was my favorite. I have always loved the malts from the Dairy Building, it’s usually my last stop on Fair day because it fills me up like nothing else, but they’re so creamy and delicious. This new flavor knocks it out of the park – it’s vanilla ice cream, salted caramel and then they put Old Dutch Puffcorn in it. It’s like the perfect marriage of sweet and salty and I thought I died and went to heaven.
7. Maple Bacon Funnel Cake from Funnel Cakes stand – it’s not pictured, I forgot to grab a photo. I will say though, maple bacon anything is usually pretty good – this one is going to be VERY sweet, but if you have a few people to share it with, I think a bite or two is worth it.
So that was the food and it was amazing, but as I said, they also wanted to share with us about activities for kids and families at the Fair. New this year is an event called “Math on a Stick”. Everything at the Fair is on a stick, so why not math? The creator of this new exhibit is also the creator of a website called “Talking Math With Kids”. He says we put a lot of emphasis on reading with children from the time they are born and that is wonderful, but that we need to be doing the same with math to help get kids familiar with math and numbers as well. He created this program for the Fair this year to raise more awareness of how to get kids fired up about math. At the Math on a Stick exhibit kids can pick up a couple of number games to play while at the Fair or they can also play with some tessellation puzzles that will be available at the exhibit as well. While Ollie will be too little to understand this stuff this year, I think it’s awesome that they’re doing this, I wish it had been around when I was a kid because I really didn’t like math that much!
While math is taking center stage this year, there is still a place for letters and words at the Fair too, kids can also explore the Alphabet Forest where they can play a Fair word game, make a State Fair letter necklace or even take a break with some books.
Another little place for kids to play and explore that sounds super cute to me is the Little Farm Hands exhibit, it’s a hands on experience where kids can learn about farming and how the items end up at the market. They even earn “money” that they can spend on a real product from a little grocery store at the end.
There are a ton of other great things for kids and families to do – walk through the Barns and see the animals, there’s the Great Big Sandbox, there is a parade each day and every day there’s a different theme, so there’s always something exciting going on!
They also covered some great tips and tricks for saving money at the Fair – things like buying your tickets ahead of time (they’re on sale at Cub right now for less than they’ll be at the gate) or purchasing the Blue Ribbon Bargain Book that has many coupons for food, activities, etc – this book will pay for itself if you use even two coupons! There is a whole section on saving at the Fair found on their website right here that is totally worth looking at before you go.
I had a really great time learning about the new foods and all the activities for kids and families. There will be plenty that Ollie can do this year even being just over a year and a half old and I just can’t wait for Fair to be here! We’ll be there three weeks from today, let the countdown begin!