The end is nigh.
No, it’s not Dec. 21, 2012, again. It’s Minnesota State Fair time. The unofficial end of summer and the last thing to do before being hauled back kicking and screaming to school. I used to attend this festival of food, beer, rides, beer, exhibits, games, concerts and beer, but I haven’t been back in a while and don’t intend to go back any time soon.
I have nothing against the fair. Heck, it’s actually pretty great as state fairs go. It’s even considered by many to be one of the best state fairs in the country. That’s something to be proud of, for sure, but I just can’t bring myself to go back this year.
For one, it’s going to be hot. I haven’t watched a weather forecast for the fair, and I don’t need too. It’s going to be hot and muggy. It’s always hot and muggy at fair time. Just like there is a blizzard every time it’s high school basketball tournament season.
Weather is why I believe that we should hold the state fair sometime in the middle of January. It might not get up to 90, but wouldn’t it be nice to have a 10-day span of temperatures in the high 40s to low 50s in the dead of winter? Besides, the cold keeps down the smell of horse “dookie” that sits and bakes in the hot summer sun and permeates the fairgrounds air between the cheese curd stands.
That brings me to complaint number two: smoking. The horse droppings are OK, but not smoke, so nothing takes the edge off the funk. The state fair, in their infinite wisdom, corrals smokers into a scant few smoking areas. This stemmed from a complete over-reaction to a kid getting burned last year in the eye by an inattentive smoker. That’s bad, to be sure, and probably hurt like a son-of-a-gun, too. But this knee-jerk reaction went way too far. I don’t smoke cigarettes (E-cigs, yes, but I don’t care what the USFDA says, they are not a tobacco product because there is no tobacco in them) but I’m not going to get in someone’s face for doing something that is legal outdoors where it is not hurting anyone but themselves, and in a state that has seen fit to use tax revenue to fund the new, hideously ugly Vikings stadium.
I know, some will say “it’s a health risk,” but let’s be honest adults here. That claim is total and utter bull. If the move was made for a “public health” reason, not only would the state have taxed the things at about $100 per pack, because they could, but the state fair could have banned them completely. And really, if they gave a rip about your health, would they allow all those deep-fried food stands, those delicious, delicious deep-fried food stands? Nope, they just pick on cigarettes because they are “icky.”
Oh, and if you think this will be easily enforced, you are mistaken. All this will do is increase the number of half-smoked butts littering the fairgrounds, as people will be told, or yelled at, then put out the cigarette with no ashtray in sight. Common sense folks, use it.
I suppose I could go to the fair to go meet some political people and let the parties tell me why they are great and the other is a group of idiots with absolutely no idea how to govern and will inevitably ruin the state. To be fair, both parties are right on that last part. Neither one has any sense whatsoever.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, in high school I was a Democrat, in college a Republican, but now, I’m just bitter. Besides, why do I need to go to the state fair when I have a forum to ask questions directly to my representatives? Then again, I have asked Chief of Staff Denis McDonough — a Stillwater native — who passes the most gas on Air Force One back in January when he took the office, and have yet to get an answer. No, I don’t think it’s a waste of time actually, I think it’s right up there with the kind of questions the press asks people in power, but that’s another column. I’ll get enough hate mail for the last two paragraphs anyway.
The biggest reason I have no intention of going to the state fair is the traffic. I have two, very unattractive choices if I wish to attend the great Minneosta get together. The first is to drive. Gas is too expensive to do anything, and if I do drive, then I’ll park a mile away, and pay through the teeth to do so. So, when I’m tired, and stuffed to the brim and ready to go home, I still must trek to find my car.
The other is to park and take the bus. But I dislike being on other people’s schedule. When I am ready to go, I am ready now, not a half hour from now, and after that many corn dogs and deep fried Twinkies, my colon won’t wait either.
I don’t mean sound crabby, but the looming winter does that to a person. But I suppose it could be worse, I could’ve awakened to a boa constrictor on my deck.
Chris Hamble is a freelance writer and humor columnist serving newspapers in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and is a lifelong Stillwater resident.