â€œMom,â€ said my daughter during a static-riddled phone call, â€œI believe you have your State Fair facts wrong. Iowa has the number one rated fair.â€
â€œMmmmm, I donâ€™t think so,â€ I said. “The ranking, depending on who is doing the rating, is something like Texas, Minnesota, and then Iowa.â€
â€œNuh uh. Iowa is #1.â€
Poor, misguided child. I was ready to forgive her because sheâ€™s been living in Iowa for the past five years and obviously nearing brain-washed levels. Just for arguments sake, here is a website that says Minnesota is #1. Who am I to argue? http://www.bustle.com/articles/20934-the-10-best-state-fairs-in-the-country-because-fried-oreos-dont-grow-on-trees
As much as I dislike knowing the State Fair represents the unofficial end of summer in Minnesota, I do like attending. My husband and I have our rituals, and it is the only time of year I allow myself those darn addicting garlic French fries. My friend Claudia says her process is to buy whatever food she wants, take one or two bites, and then has her husband eat the rest. He does not find this to be a problem in case you are wondering.
I started thinking back on the first time I went to the State Fair. Somehow I retain a few mental pictures of being with Dad, Mom, and my brothers in an endless sea of tractors and other farm machinery. I remember the joy of crawling up and around tractors that felt impossibly massive and powerful. Our family farm tractors were small, practical, and downright boring in comparison. Back in those days (1960â€™s) Machinery Hill was populated with drooling farmers as they checked out the latest and greatest, and jawed about the future of farming. Now however, circa 2014, the huge farm equipment on Machinery Hill has become fairly scarce (pun intended).
I also remember a yearâ€¦I think I might have been eight or nineâ€¦when my brother Delvie and I spent the day at the State Fair together. He would have been nine or ten years old. Imagine, two naÃ¯ve farm kids, sans adults, wandering around for an entire day! Dad worked construction in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, so he brought us down from the farm and dropped us off at my Aunt Lois’s who had an apartment near the fairgrounds. When she was ready to leave for work she dropped us off at the fair. I have zero recollection where or when we got tickets, but sort of remember having seven or eight dollars to spendâ€¦a vast fortune in a land of things on a stick!
My brother and I were no strangers to fighting with each other under proper universal sibling rules, but on this day we were in it together and got along just fine. Dad picked us up when he finished his day of work and brought us back to the farm, which was one hundred miles away. When I think about that nowâ€¦it staggers me a bit. There is simply no way I would have allowed my son and daughter to wander the State Fair alone at that age, and they have always been really good kids.
What do you think? Were my parentâ€™s wrong to let us go it alone? Were we any safer back then? Has life changed that much? Do you have any memories of the State Fair?