Nothing says fair season like a deep-fried delicacy served on a stick. At least that’s what I had heard, being from Ohio, when people told me about the Minnesota State Fair. Well, I feel like a true Minnesotan; I finally experienced the tradition recently.
I heard about all the things you could try deep-fried at the fair. Many of my peers would say jokingly one could just about get anything they wanted fried and on a stick. That included candy bars, pizza and deep-fried apple pie. While everything at the fair is not served on a stick, there is a lot that does not come on a plate.
I figured since this was my first time at the state fair, I would be brave. I wouldn’t stick to my usual corn dog, popcorn and frozen-lemonade routine. I chose not to play it safe and stepped away from the cheese curds. Who can pass up cheese curds at the state fair? It was hard, but I did it.
I confidently ordered alligator on a stick. In fair lingo, “Gator on a Stick.” As I waited in line with people of all ages, I thought about how it would taste and how mad I would be for wasting $5 on something I might not like. More importantly, I do not like to waste food. I just can’t fathom it.
A boy standing next to me held his money proudly. He looked to be about 12 years old. I asked him if he had tried alligator before, and he said he had and it tastes like chicken. He said it tastes good. That was a relief to hear, but a good reporter trusts then also verifies.
It’s funny – as soon as he said it tastes like chicken, I wasn’t that nervous about it anymore. I thought to myself, “I like chicken so maybe I’ll like this.” Well, I made it to the front of the line and ordered my gator that was wrapped in aluminum foil on a stick. I slowly unwrapped it, expecting to see alligator skin. Don’t ask me why I thought that. All I could picture was the animal. I took the first bite and was surprised it tasted like something I had tried before. It reminded me more of sausage than chicken, but everyone has different taste buds. In the end, I determined I liked “Gator on a Stick.”
Another highlight for me was playing the fair games. It took me back to when my best friend, Christopher, and I would go on school field trips to amusement parks or to our local community festivals. While everyone else was hyped up about the roller-coaster or another of the latest attractions that usually makes you feel like your head has been in a blender, Christopher and I were really into the games.
We loved to play games and see how many stuffed animals we could take home. Mine would usually line my bed. He would win his and give them to his mother, who had a massive collection that grew over time from his victories. It was a friendly competition, and Christopher would usually dominate, although I do remember a few times I beat him. Those were good times.
I played four games. I won two and let a little girl win the fourth. I just couldn’t take the stuffed tiger from her. She needed a competitor for the game to start. I was down to my last four tickets. I am a big fan of the water-gun races so I sat down at shooter number four and could see she was happy for the chance to play. Yes, I almost won my third stuffed animal of the day, but I felt she deserved it more. Seeing her smile was worth the loss.
I’m glad I can finally say I made it to the Minnesota State Fair. The smell of so many foods was memorable, the weather was beautiful and I got plenty of exercise navigating through the sea of other fair-goers. There really is something for everyone at the fair. It’s so big. My friend told me we actually walked about 40 percent of the grounds. Well, I look forward to seeing the remaining 60 percent next year.