County fair time was the highlight of summer for me. It was the BIG EVENT for the entire community. I was active in 4-H and would compete against my friends to win Grand Champion or at least a blue ribbon in each category that I entered. People would compete in open class ranging from food, arts-n-crafts, crops, and animals. There was a large carnival with rides, beer tent, free entertainment, food, and vendors selling their wares. It was exciting and exhausting.
I ventured to the Hennepin County Fair last weekend (June 16th). My last visit was eight years ago. Housing developments have swallowed up the farms as the city encroaches on the fairgrounds. The fair occurs at Lion’s Park in Corcoran. Due to the rainy weather, the parking lot was a mud pit and the park had woodchips scattered about to disguise puddles.
The fair consists of a small carnival area, a large tent for open class competition, a couple tents filled with vendors, food booths, entertainment tent, beer tent, and 4-H tent. There was a petting zoo, lumberjack show, and track used for a tracker pull and demolition derby. Considering that Hennepin County has one of the largest populations of Minnesota, the fair is tiny. I suppose it is due to the dizzying array of entertainment in the Twin Cities area. The Ramsey County Fair is rather small, too.
The main irritant was lack of real toilets and running water. All the housing development means that sewer lines must be nearby. The park needs that upgrade very badly as well as gravel in the parking lot. It would be amenable to locate a unique form of entertainment to make the fair special. Hennepin County charges an entry fee whereas Ramsey County does not. The Dakota County and Washington Fairs charge a small entry free. They offer an outstanding experience, probably because they still have more rural residents. I do love the fair but feel sad for the urban kids who will never experience the thrill of the big event in town.
Fair needs flair.
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