Summer’s official closing party took place this past Labor Day as the Minnesota State Fair came to its conclusion.  I spent the final day of the fair with 170,000+ of my new friends enjoying the perfect weather, the food, the animals, the rides, the entertainment, and the people watching.  One of the oldest rides, and in my opinion one of the simplest rides, is the Giant Slide.  Climb up the stairs, sit on a mat, and slide all the way down to the bottom.  No flashing lights, no blaring music, no mechanical anything; it’s simple, it’s fun, and attracts people of all ages.  It’s a chance for adults to be kids again and for kids to be amazed at the adults around them having fun!  This cutout was meant for someone to put their face in, but it became the perfect frame for all the fun and laughter that was going on behind it on the Giant Slide.  Wheeeeeeeee!

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Dairy princess in butter 13938_StaatsThe Minnesota State Fair ends it’s 2016 run tomorrow; a 12-day event filled with animals, rides, vendors, music, art displays, food on a stick, and millions of people gathering as summer winds down.  Minnesota has 3,000+ dairy farms and honors those in the industry with its own Dairy Princess.  There are numerous finalists from different counties around the state, and one princess is chosen to be Princess Kay of the Milky Way.  She and the other princesses serve as goodwill ambassadors for the dairy industry.  Since 1965 Linda Christensen has been spending each day of the fair in a 40 degree cooler carving a 90 pound block of butter into the likeness of Princess Kay and the 11 other princesses.  It takes Linda about six hours for each butter bust, requiring the princess and Linda to dress warmly and take breaks.  As the platform rotates inside the cooler, fair-goers can watch Linda’s skills and marvel at the sculptures she’s completed, all while savoring the malts, shakes, cones, and cheese curds that are sold right next to the cooler.  When the fair is complete, each princess gets to take home her own butter sculpture.  It is just one of the things that makes the Minnesota State Fair so special.

Single tree island,early autumn 63751_StaatsThe Minnesota State Fair is in full-swing and summer has made its hot and humid comeback too.  But there is always cool artwork to be seen in the Fine Arts Exhibit.  I’m happy to tell you that my entry “Single tree island, early autumn” was accepted into the exhibit this year.  With a 15% acceptance rate, I feel exceptionally honored that my photograph was juried into the exhibit.  If you’re attending the fair, be sure to spend some time in the Fine Arts Building.  You’ll be treated to some beautiful, imaginative, creative, and unusual art of many kinds – all created by artists from the state of Minnesota.

If the calendar is turning to the end of August, it must be state fair time in Minnesota.  Affectionately known as the “Great Minnesota Get Together” the fair begins this Thursday, August 23rd, and runs through Labor Day, September 3rd.  One of the showcases each year is the fine art exhibition — a juried competition of Minnesota artists.  Last year 361 art pieces were accepted into the final exhibit, selected from over 2,500 works.  I’m happy to say that my submission for this year has been accepted into the exhibit.  My photograph is titled “Rain on my tulip window.”  If you’re planning to attend the state fair, be sure to enjoy the Fine Art exhibition.  You’ll have the opportunity to see a collection of wide-ranging art by some of the very best Minnesota artists.

Yesterday it was me and 234,383 of my best friends spending a cool summer’s day at the Minnesota State Fair and setting a record for single-day attendance.   The Minnesota State Fair is the second-largest State Fair in the country.  With the fairgrounds covering 320 acres it’s imperative to allow at least one day to see your favorite things.  There’s the Mighty Midway with its games and carnival rides, the food, the Giant Slide, Machinery Hill, the food, the animals, the exhibits, the Space Tower, the Grandstand, and the food.  We refer to the Fair as the Great Minnesota Get-Together, and we celebrate with friends and food.  Anything and everything is available on a stick, from fried pickles to pronto pups.  For many the Fair is a day of grazing from one food booth to the next.  I especially enjoyed the animal barns.  The pigs that weren’t being shown in competition were sleeping lazily, the sounds of the roosters were echoing off the walls in their building, and the goats were busy nibbling on the shirts of the passers-by.  People who attend the fair are always in a good mood, as are the vendors, and the employees at the fair.  Even the woman at the information booth who helped me three different times — she too was in a good mood.  I even found two special friends from the Minnesota Twins – Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau – who “stood still” while I had my photo taken with them.  What a great ending to a fine day at the Fair!

MN State Fair ferris wheel_24210_StaatsThe surest sign of fall is the end of the Minnesota State Fair.  With perfect temps and blue skies, the fair set a new attendance record this year.  Living just a few blocks away from the fairgrounds has its good and bad — lots of car traffic, people everywhere, the sounds of the shows at the Grandstand, and the fireworks every night.  Now the neighborhood returns to its usual routine, and we slide into fall.  Already there are spots of color in some of the trees.  The temperatures slide a little bit cooler in the evenings, and the sun has lost its intensity.  The Canada geese are flying again, cruising over our rooftop as they commute between the agricultural fields at the university and Como Lake.  The summer flowers are fading and the fall mums are evident in gardens and on entry steps.  This morning the children were standing at bus stops waiting for their first day back at school.  All the familiarities that tell us the seasons have changed.