Well, it’s been exactly a week since the most crowded single day in the history of the Minnesota State Fair. We were four of the 252,092 people who made it out to Falcon Heights that day, as we had Grandstand tickets for the MN Music On-A-Stick concert that started at 4pm with The Cactus Blossoms. They were followed by Har Mar Superstar, Cloud Cult, Bob Mould, Doomtree and Brother Ali, who finished up just before 11pm (and the fireworks). The Current reported that this was the longest show in Grandstand history – too bad attendance was only around 7,500.
It was a fun, full day of quality music and the weather was just about perfect for the unofficial end of summer in Minnesota. We actually ran into Har Mar before the show and got a picture of him with MK, which was super cool. His set was just as energetic as ever and featured Lizzo on backing vocals. Cloud Cult is growing on me (also saw them at Rock the Garden), but they aren’t quite my cup of tea. I do really like pianist Sarah Elhardt Perbix, though, who also plays with Jeremy Messersmith.
Bob Mould’s set was amazing. As I tweeted, I just can’t believe all that noise can come from three musicians (bassist Jason Narducy, drummer Jon Wurster and “Moldy Bob”). Closing with The Mary Tyler Moore Show theme song was just perfect (can’t believe Joan Jett didn’t also play it on Monday). Doomtree’s set was beset with muddy vocals at the start, but got better later on. I know Get Down is really a P.O.S. song, but personally I think Doomtree should end every show with it (which they didn’t do Saturday, making the other last song seem anticlimactic).
Brother Ali said in a radio interview earlier in the day he didn’t get any sleep the night before and it really showed – this set wasn’t as good as the one we saw at Summerfest in Milwaukee. This was unfortunate, as he was the headliner this time around. Maybe I was just anxious at the end – we’d been there seven hours and I really thought the fair still had a 10:30 curfew. Colleen and I sat in our reserved seats the whole day (right behind DGS), but the girls stood front and center against the barricade and were included in most of the press photos I saw in the online reviews.
Food-wise, I tried the pretzel curds at the O’Gara’s booth, which were better than I was expecting. I also ordered a burger from them called the O’Bleu, which had blue cheese, bacon and an onion ring. I try not to order things like that at the fair, but I needed some protein after my 20 mile run the day before. The porch outside the police station next door is an awesome “secret” spot to nab an open bench on a crowded day. Don’t remember all the other food that day (99% sure there were Pronto Pups in the picture), but ask me in person sometime about the midnight adventure at Spaghetti Eddie’s…
We returned on Monday for my third visit of the year (and another Grandstand show – Joan Jett and Journey). We did a lot more walking that day, as crowds in the buildings were much better than Saturday. I remember going up and down Machinery Hill and visiting the 4-H, Education, Fine Art and Pet Center buildings. We rode the SkyGlider, walked through the Grandstand (which had a booth selling used slot machines), saw a rooster crow in the Poultry building, bought two more scratch-offs from the Minnesota Lottery and stopped in again at the Dairy building for another malt.
We met most of the Miller clan in the new West End Market, which I’ve decided I mostly like. It was a bummer having part of my previous State Fair experience destroyed with the demolition of the previous Heritage Square, but it seems like they tried to make the best of the situation. I liked the new history center and the two big food vendor structures are very nice (even if some of the food was hit and miss). Lulu’s will probably have to change their name for 2015, but maybe there will be a settlement before then. The new stage is an improvement, but capacity seems smaller and I can’t believe they built it on a raised hill instead of in a sunken natural bowl. I’d also like to see more green and less cement next year in the common areas – that may impact traffic flow, but it seems too sterile now. Oh, and one last thing – please bring back the previous kettle corn vendor!
While in the West End, I ordered mac and cheese on a stick and a cold Mountain Dew from Lulu’s, carrying on the old Axel’s tradition perfectly (they also have “Cajun Bites,” which I assume are the same Bull Bites of old – didn’t try them). On the way out, I stopped at the Blue Barn to pick up a lemonade and the blue cheese and corn fritz, which many of the food critics were raving about online. Didn’t care for either one and ended up tossing half of the (somewhat expensive) fritters. Live and learn.
Other food items I had this year on various days: Fresh French Fries (x2), Danielson’s onion rings, Sweet Martha’s chocolate chip cookies, Chicago mix popcorn from Candyland, Lingonberry snow cone, apple freezes, Wino Wings, a beer flight from the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild and an ear of corn from the Corn Roast (which loses SK in 2015, but gains MK).
We met Mike, Cindy, Jake and Rebecca before the Journey show outside the Horticulture building, which was really fun (too bad I forgot to get any photos). Our seats were next to the Millers on the main floor, about 25 rows back. Joan Jett’s opening set was a blast, but seemed very short. We have taken to calling the current version of the headliner “Fake Journey,” as it just doesn’t seem right calling it Journey without Steve Perry. Neal Schon is an incredible guitar player, though, and Arnel Pineda is like a magician – if you close your eyes, you’d swear it was the Steve Perry of old up on stage singing all those classic tunes.
Up next: The Replacements @ Midway Stadium, 9/13Originally published by DK on September 6, 2014 at 7:53 pm