Claire S's Reviews > Minnesota State Fair: An Illustrated History

Minnesota State Fair by Kathryn Strand Koutsky
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's review
Feb 20, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: fiction-not-at-all, f_interpretations, historical, indexia, pol-historical, visual, thtr-art-film-music-etc, cooking-food-nutrition, explored-skimmed, g_mplsstp_regional
Read in February, 2009 , read count: 3

This is a great, big, glorious book about our great, big, glorious Minnesota State Fair. Worthy of love and distaste and annoyance and adoration and aggravation and extensive optimizing strategies and avoidance at all cost. Forward by dear beloved Garrison Keiller, Who I'm going to quote here:
'5 reasons.. # 4 of which is: to eat food we've been warned against and build up fat for the winter, and # 5 is: to be in a crowd.
No. 5 is the crucial motive (this is Garrison still). We live insular lives, working in cubicles, riding around in cars, hanging out with people a lot like ourselves, and the fair is where you get to see, at long last, who else lives in Minnesota other than you and your family. ... list of activities.. and where else can you do this in Minnesota? We're shy and introspective people, wary of strangers and skittish about body contact, and the State Fair is where you go to try to get over that."
Ha! We beat Garrison! He says he took his daughter when she was 19 months, to make her officially a Minnesotan. We took ours when she was just 4 months! Two hours, got home, exhausted. Learning to be the one with the baby carriage in everyone's way, fascinating. Anyway, she's been there every year, and so should all the rest of you out there. Non-Minnesotan's welcome!
Anyway, back to the book (I'm only on page x so far)- since it started in 1854, it's only been cancelled 5 times. 1862 and 1863 due to the Civil War and the Dakota Indian conflict (which is a whole 'nother story, lots to absorb about that and become better about), 1893 to participate in the World's Columbian exhibition in Chicago, 1945 to conserve fuel for World War II and 1946 due to the polio epidemic.
This book is picture-rich, lots of photos and maps and posterrs and pass gate tickets throughout; with a great deal of informative text as well.
Covers the extensive agricultural aspects - one of the main features of this state until not that long ago.
"Minneapolis Moline Tractors and Farm Machinery - "BUILT TO DO THE WORK" "
The past glories of the demolition derby, the speedtrack; and the everpresent entertainment, school marching bands, and animals of course, the midway, the games of chance and skill, and the vast exhibition options (which my daughter participated in last year as well) of everything from grown food to baked food to crafted items to arts to I-don't-know-what-else. Oh yes, the food convenience items and cooking demonstrations - can't forget those! And finally, speaking of food, some pictures and notes about long-standing food booths and sit-down places, those run by various religious organizations and those of all other kinds. This fine piece of literature ends with (what else?) recipes! Everything from Spampenadas (2004) and Grandstand Spam to Zangy Zucchini Squares, Cheese Crisps, Spiced Pecans, State Fair Orange Bread, Trailway Pumpkin Bread, Blueberry Tea Cake, Ceresota Scotch Scones, Ham and Cheese Puffs, Pear and Almond Bread, Lizzie's Cream Muffins, Easy Old-Fashioned Cinnamon Rolls, Corn Pudding with Chives, Onion Pie, Potato Cheese Scallop, Home Baked Beans, Spinach Au Gratin, Curried Chicken, Trout Sauteed with Bacon, Smothered Pheasant or Grouse, Sour Cream Lamb Stew, Venison Collops, Hungarian Goulash, Beef Brisket with Onion Sauce, Sweet and Sour Pork, Split Pea Soup, Classic Wild Rice Soup, Sunflower Cookies, Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing, Zucchini Fudge Cake, and a personal favorite: Pineapple Upside Down Cake. And much, much more. The amount of art throughout is really wonderful. And, there's an index. Uff-da!

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