Having grown up a mile or so north of the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, I am no romantic about the fair. It is noisy, dusty, crowded, and fattening. But it can be fun, too. I really enjoyed my evening at the fair Thursday. It helped that the weather was perfect, and I spent nearly all my time in and around the Horticulture Building, where the Minnesota State Horticulture Society has two booths. I worked in both the merchandise booth, where visitors can buy T-shirts, books, garden gloves, garden art, and other doo-dads, and at the education booth.
This year MSHS is highlighting community gardening in Minnesota, with information and displays at the education booth. The society is also holding a drawing for a paint-able rain barrel from the Minneapolis Reuse Center. The barrel sells for $80 and appears to be made of recycled milk cartons. Many of the folks I talked with are intrigued about the idea of setting up a rain barrel to catch runoff from their roofs for use in the yard and garden, but are put off by the high price of some barrels (I’ve seen them as high as $250 in some catalogs).
In between my shifts in the booths, I wandered into the nearby vegetable room, where the giant vegetables were on display. I did not catch the size of the big winner in the pumpkin division, but one of the runners-up weighed 375 lbs. The fair also has a competition for giant zucchini, and as you can see these entrants are impressive.
It would not be a trip to the fair without something decadent to eat. I stopped at the French Meadow Bakery’s booth in the Food Building for a chocolate chunk scone with peaches and cream. It was better than cheese curds.