The Great Minnesota Eat Together

The Minnesota State Fair. Just hearing the words conjures so many memories of exciting foods, unique gifts found at the International Bazaar, and that indescribable State Fair smell of deep fryers, sweet hay and summer heat. It’s an event that seems to take forever to arrive, and then it’s over before you know it. With new foods each year, it’s hard to be able to experience all that there is to offer at this Great Minnesota Get-Together.

Old Traditions, New Flavors

The State Fair is known for corn dogs, cheese curds, kettle corn but it seems that with each summer comes new treats to try. Every year we get more creative with what we put on a stick, deep fry, or dip in chocolate. There are 32 new foods on the menu for the fair this year, and this is just a sneak peek at what we have to look forward to:

SPAM Sushi. Sushi has taken the nation by storm over the last few years, so this combination shouldn’t come as a surprise to us. SPAM sushi is made with grilled SPAM, sushi rice, fried egg, and wasabi, all rolled in dried seaweed. If you’re new to the sushi scene, this may be a nice way to dip your toes into the water. Even if you’re an expert, there’s no shame in having an open mind and enjoying this “traditional American meat meets East” combination. SPAM Sushi can be found at Sushi Rolls in the Warner Coliseum.

Mac and Cheese Curds. Another food pair that’s been begging to be put together is macaroni and cheese and cheese curds, the ever-favorite fair food. Classic macaroni and cheese is mixed with fresh cheese curds, making for a truly ooey gooey comfort food. Macaroni and cheese curds can be found at Oodles of Noodles in the Food Building.

The Reuben Pickle Dog. The Reuben sandwich is another versatile classic, and there are seemingly endless ways in which to serve this delicious flavor combo. Pickle Dog, located at the south side of the appropriately named Carnes Avenue between Liggett and Chambers Streets, has come up with yet another new way of serving up Reubens: The Reuben Pickle Dog. It’s made up of a dill pickle spear, sauerkraut, 1000 island dressing, all wrapped in a slice of pastrami. I have bad breath just thinking about it.

If you’re looking for a specific food, visit www.mnstatefair.org and look for the Food Finder. This tool makes it even easier for you to look up and locate the over 500 varieties of food items available. This feature is also included on the Minnesota State Fair app, available for both iPhone and Android.

Recreate the Flavors of the Fair at Home

A fun new feature at the fair this year is called the “Recipe Card Roundup.” In case you have wished you could bring the Minnesota State Fair into your own kitchen, this is an opportunity to acquire some of the best recipes of the 2015 State Fair: Zesty Salsa, Strawberry Jam, Banana Bread, Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bars, Apple Pie (filling and crust) and Chocolate Brownies. Each recipe card is given away on different days so make sure to be at the Creative Activities Building at 10am and 4pm to receive one of the limited supplies of these collectible cards. The daily schedules, also available online, will indicate which recipes will be given out which days.

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry

With so many new things to look forward to at the Great Minnesota Get-Together, don’t be afraid to take your time. Chew slowly, enjoy your companions as you stand in lines, and appreciate each moment of the crowded streets. The Minnesota State Fair is a time to enjoy who we are, where we are, and who is standing beside us – put that on a stick!

 

By Whitney Grindberg

Jacob’s Judgements – Twins V Lynx

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For sports fans, the agony of the summer abyss could not be more real. The slow descent into the dank cave of boredom is so gradual that when basketball and hockey crown champions in mid-June, their leagues’ instant disappearance leaves us stunned and paralyzed with nothing to keep us company but our own sad and lonely echoes.

While the drudging hiatus between NBA/NHL action and the dawning of another football season can be draining, there are indeed two leagues in the throes of battle: the MLB and WNBA.

In this instance, Minnesota fans are lucky — a sentiment rarely expressed — to have both a baseball and women’s basketball team. Therefore, our mid-summer sports landscape when compared to a place like, say, Omaha, is a little less grindingly lonely.

Let’s say, however, that for purposes of this columnist’s argument you could only commit your fragile Twin Cities sports psyche to one franchise. On whom do you spend your time and money? The Twins or the Lynx?

Before we examine the favorable viewing qualities of each squad, it could be argued that a physical sporting match between the two might also be fascinating. But what sport? Basketball is a lock. Baseball, however, given the Twins’ embarrassing futility and the athletic prowess of the Lynx, could perhaps prove competitive. (Yes, I’m joking. Please hold all gender-related hate mail.) Maybe tennis or bowling?

Anyway, as regards their watchability, the first thing you notice is how one team consistently wins and the other… well… doesn’t. Champions in three of the last five seasons, the Lynx remain one of the best teams in the WNBA with stars like Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus, and Lindsay Whalen.

On the other hand, the Twins — despite playing in the comfort of a state-of-the-art, half-billion dollar stadium — can’t get themselves out of the basement. Challenging the league’s bottom-feeders for the worst record in baseball, the Paul Molitor-led club has allowed more runs than any other American League squad. Wait, what’s that sound? Another home run given up by the Minnesota pitching staff? (I hope you die-hard Twins fans have a sense of humor.)

Wins, however, can’t be the only variable in this equation. One thing the Twins have over their Lynx sisters — indeed, through no cunning of their own — is their new digs. It’s a joy to watch a ballgame at Target Field. The atmosphere is second to none, and, when the weather holds, there’s little better than enjoying a hot dog while taking in some midsummer action.

Target Center, on the other hand, fails to match the luster of its northern neighbor due solely to its devastating indoorsiness (yes, I make up words when appropriate). The quality of product being viewed cannot be questioned; however, there is something just right about the combination of August sunshine and outdoor baseball.

That said, I’m not sure it’s enough to topple the Lynx as being the more worthy watch. In the end, I ask myself this: which team deserves my patronage more? To this question, there is little debate.

Of course, despite my journalistic caveat, a fan needn’t actually select one franchise over another. They are not mutually exclusive. I would, however, like to urge Minnesota sporting enthusiasts to give the Lynx a look. They’re a fun team to watch, and, despite their lack of court-covered sunshine, they are poised to make another deep run toward the championship.

 

By Jacob Westlin

Twin Cities Chic

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Summer isn’t over yet, but trendsetters are already looking ahead to the fall fashion season to see what’s on deck. Fashion Weeks from New York to Milan typically occur in late winter or early spring, yet always feature a sneak peek of potential trends for later in the year. This fall, prepare to see more bold prints, high waists, and lots of gold. If you want to be ahead of the curve, read on for some of the most noteworthy fall fashion looks.

20th Century Function Meets 21st Century Style

Despite a large increase in the sale of cat and pizza-related leggings in recent years, modern fashion still relies on classic looks – with an update here and there. High-waisted skirts and pants have been back in style for a bit now, but this fall the designers are doubling down on the flattering-on-everyone cut. Prepare to see pencil skirts with lots of pleats and wide-legged wool and denim pants.

In addition, the elegant furs of yester-year have been given a modern twist. Faux-fur coats and vests will definitely be in this season, along with matching fur-accented bags and booties. Traditional-looking pieces are present but so are wild pinks and purples. Cow hide, which often is used in pants, shoes, and bags is also big this fall – but again, sticking to a faux facade. Think blazers, messenger bags, and of course, the actual boot – which is a fall staple that will never go out style.

Stand Out Above the Crowd

In an age of Insta-famous looks, it can be difficult to feel original. But it doesn’t take extreme measures to show off your flashy side – it’s a piece of cake. Bold, geometric patterns are big in the upcoming season – literally. Try the look out by adding a pair of large diamond-shaped earrings or a  long, trapezoidal statement ring. Geometry will also be present on everything from dresses to scarves, meaning it will be easy to try this trend out in many different ways – even if you have to shout out loud!

Paisley prints are also hot this season, mixing Boho style with flattering patterns for all body types. An off-the-shoulder dress over black leggings can be worn with boots, flats, or heels, making it a perfect piece for any occasion. Added with a floppy hat or a leather shoulder bag, this statement-making look works day and night. Don’t be afraid to mix and match different prints and colors – all of the old rules have gone out the window, so why not try something new?

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Metallic Mania

While the term “heavy metal” may conjure thoughts of headbanging and 80s hair, this season it’s all the rage – in terms of accessorizing that is. Rose gold eyeshadow, copper bangles, and silver hair jewelry are all super hot, almost as if the fires that forged these minerals are within our sights. A sweep of loose metallic powders across the lids or cheeks will bring a certain pop to any look, while a long ring (think the kind Jojo the Bachelorette wears) is the perfect accent for both work and play.

If you want to feel like a rock star but are concerned that you can’t pull off the full metal treatment, opt for small, eye-catching accents. Illuminating and bronzers aren’t just for the Kardashians; a little goes a long way so adding a touch here and there will definitely make a difference. Add a pop to a simple blouse or blazer by wearing a statement brooch on the color – look for vintage pieces at the local thrift shop for a touch of classic elegance that won’t break the bank.

 

By Rachelle Gordon

 

US Bank Stadium Opening

An anchor of the Minneapolis skyline for more than thirty years, the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome — which opened in 1982 — has hosted an impressively diverse roster of exciting events. The Super Bowl, MLB All-Star Game, Final Four, and an era-spanning array of world-renowned musicians have all taken center stage. Most memorably, the stadium was transformed into the thunderous “Homer Dome” for both the 1987 and ’91 Minnesota Twins’ World Series championships.

By the mid-2000s, however, despites its historic pedigree, the iconic structure had clearly been lapped by Father Time.

In addition to its antiquated aesthetic — nothing screams 1970s and ’80s architecture quite like a marshmallow-shaped dome — its amenities failed to meet the needs of today’s tech-savvy fans and suite-selling owners. Indeed, playing landlord to three high-demand sports franchises (the Vikings, Twins, and Gopher football) presents unique challenges for any single dwelling, state-of-the-art or otherwise.

A trio of luxurious stadiums have since been erected including the eco-friendly Target Field and open-roof TCF Bank Stadium. This month, U.S. Bank Stadium completed the modern triumvirate and officially opened its doors after nearly three years of construction.

Though the first thing one notices about the new structure is its sleek, eye-catching exterior — including signature 95-foot pivoting glass doors — U.S. Bank Stadium’s interior forges an inviting personality all its own, with luxury elements rivaling any NFL domicile. Wireless internet, LED lighting, six club lounges, and a restaurant all contribute to a comfortable, fan-friendly environment.

The new 1.75-million square-foot building also includes numerous upgrades over its dome predecessor. It features ten times the number of high-definition televisions, more than twice as many bathrooms, a hundred additional concession stands, and a substantially wider concourse. And, to the delight of the Viking ownership group, you’ll also find nearly 50 extra suites and almost 8,000 more club seats.

Finally, as the Metrodome’s archaic video boards were woefully inadequate, U.S. Bank Stadium — much like AT&T Stadium in Dallas, also designed by architecture firm HKS, Inc. — features a dazzling screen display with two monitors measuring a total of 12,560 square feet, nearly ten times that of its forebear.

The first event in the dashing new building came on August 3 when defending Premier League champions Chelsea christened the field against A.C. Milan. Versatile as it is, however, U.S. Bank Stadium also hosts musical concerts including its first two performers: Luke Bryan (August 19) and Metallica (August 20).

And, while two preseason NFL games will also be played on its field (August 28 versus the Chargers and September 1 against the Rams), the first regular season matchup comes on September 18 when the Vikings host their eastern rival, the Green Bay Packers, during a Sunday Night Football clash — a primetime event certain to be as raucously unforgettable as any in recent memory.

 

By Jacob Westlin

State Fair Vendor Preview

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The Great Minnesota Get-Together may be best known for fried foods on sticks and the Miracle of Birth center, but another big draw is the shopping and swag. Hundreds of vendors are located throughout the State Fair, offering everything from beer steins to free backpacks. This year, there are 52 new vendors – here are a few that you should definitely check out. For a complete list of vendors, visit www.MNStateFair.org.

The 16oz Society

This Midwest apparel company is dedicated to, “helping beer lovers show their support for local breweries.” For their first year at the Minnesota State Fair, the 16oz Society will be selling exclusive posters, pint glasses, and shirts alongside their regular catalog of hats, stickers, and decals. Find this vendor in the Grandstand, upper level, along the south wall.

You & Me Sittin in a Tree

For personalized family trees, state prints, and wooden ornaments, You & Me Sittin in a Tree is the place to be. They also offer a gorgeous collection of wooden and ceramic bird cages and decor. Located at the West End Market in the northeast section.

Doghouses & Playhouses

This aptly-named vendor offers exactly what you would expect – custom dog and play houses. The company offers a wide variety of themes, including Victorian home, lake house, and of course, the Minnesota Wild. Pick out the perfect house for your dog and/or kids or have one designed to your exact specifications. Doghouses & Playhouses can be found on the southwest corner of Randall Avenue and Cooper Street.

Kasemakers

If you’re in the market for a custom wood-engraved phone case or virtual reality (VR) headset, Kasemakers is the perfect vendor for you. In addition to cases, you can also find camera lenses, wireless headphones, and even a Google Cardboard 3D viewer. If you aren’t sure what you want on your case, the company offers plenty of inspiration. Located in the Grandstand, upper level, along the south wall.

Ready-2-Fruit Mushrooms

Mushroom fans pay attention: home cultivation kits are on the market! Offering nearly 30 different types of cultivar, Ready-2-Fruit Mushrooms has everything you need to grow your own your own. No more foraging in the forest – these kits are easy to use and guaranteed to impress foodies of all types. Find them in the Creative Activities Annex along the west wall.

Angry Minnow Vintage

Based in Rosemount, MN, Angry Minnow Vintage features custom flannel for both men and women. At the State Fair, you’ll be able to peruse locally-themed shirts, hats, bottle openers, and even handbags. It may be too hot for a flannel long sleeve now, but you’ll be glad you have one come November. At the northwest section of the West End Market.

ME3D

Have you always thought you’d look great as an action figure? Now you can be one, thanks to the folks at ME3D.  These lifelike three-dimensional color printed personal replicas come in a variety of sizes. Every member of your family can now be the super-hero they’ve always wanted to be. Located in the Grandstand, lower level, in the southeast section.

 

By Rachelle Gordon

 

The Minnesota State Fair

There are things at the Minnesota State Fair that I can’t do without and need to see every year. I love the haunted house and expect to be invited into it by a man dressed as a pirate. I have to look at the perplexing coil-shaped machines that automatically deep fry little donuts. I need the wonders of the goat barn and can’t wait to lose myself in a whirlpool of throaty bleats there. The State Fair is the lighthouse around which we Minnesotans navigate through our year.

But without innovation what would life be? It would be more horrible than the time my wife poured my whole liquor cabinet down the drain just because I crashed her Camry into a bus stop. That’s why I love that the Fair always has new fun to accompany the cherished classics. Let me tell you about some of the new things at the Fair this year.

If you’re like 95% of Midwesterners you’re probably wondering at any given time what you can cram into your fat face next. Here are some this year’s more interesting new Fair Foods:

Candied Bacon Donut Sliders: If you want donuts and bacon but don’t have time to eat two things, the Fair’s miles ahead of you. Candied bacon donut sliders look as good as they sound. Your arteries will just look at one another and shake their heads!

Sheep Dog: If you want a sheep dog but you’re too tired to go to the Fair’s Pet Center, roam on over and get a hot dog made from real lamb. Doesn’t sound baaaaaad, does it? I’m sure the people who came up with it are going to make a mint!

Reuben Pickle Dog: If you don’t eat a Reuben pickle dog at the Fair this year then I’m afraid you can’t be helped.

But did you know that there’s more to life than just food? There is! Here are some new things at the Fair that you can’t eat:

Hen House: Located in the Miracle of Birth Center, the Hen House is a place to meet living examples of the thousands of birds you’re already eaten. I’m going to ask a hen for three Bucks.

Selfie Spots: Located at five places throughout the fairgrounds, these official Selfie Spots are just one example of why God doesn’t talk to us anymore.

Garden Kaleidoscopes & Floral-palooza: The good folks at the Agricultural Horticulture Building will set up kaleidoscopes around spinning bowls of live flowers. No joke, this is really neat and I like it.

In with the old and the new, I say! If you see a confused looking man-eating Spam sushi and attempting to converse with poultry at the Fair this year, please leave me alone. I’ll be in my zone.

 

By David Scheller