Column: The Fair Fried candy, Elvis impersonators and politicians

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Late summer always means that it is time for the great Minnesota get-together, the Minnesota State Fair. The State Fair started in 1859 and has missed only one year &045;1946 due to the polio epidemic. The 320 acres of fairgrounds was once the Ramsey County Poor Farm. The State Fair uses 22,000 rolls of toilet paper and fairgoers consume 36 miles of foot-long hotdogs each year. The two numbers may be related. The Fair gives me the opportunity to exercise my sweat glands. The lights and sounds of the Fair assault my senses. The worst thing about the Fair is that some of my money is always involved. I have been working at the State Fair for some years &045; since way back when it had something called Machinery Hill &045; and I have learned a few things during that time.

There are things to avoid at the Fair. From experience, I can tell you that the Discount Bungee Jump, attractive as it may sound, is a bad idea. The minute I was strapped in, they cued the shark attack music. Don’t go there unless you enjoy squealing like a 12-year-old girl at a Britney Spears concert.

It is a well-known fact that most of us attend fairs on the advice of our dietician. True, it is actually against this advice as much of the fair fare is a nutritionist’s nightmare. Bring an appetite when you go to a fair.

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Bring an extra appetite. It is a good idea not to eat for several months before attending a fair. Gluttons are in their glory. Being on a diet and going to the Fair is like being the captain of the Titanic and ordering the ship to stop for ice. Cotton candy, mini-doughnuts and pork chops on a stick.

There are always long lines to the cheese curds. You can put on three pounds just by reading those last two sentences. There are more calories in those few words than there are dollars in the national debt. We are told that there are two kinds of cholesterol and these food items contain both kinds &045; the bad and the worse.

I eat a corn dog every year. I like them, but I eat just one. There are more than 500,000 corn dogs eaten at the State Fair each year. I prefer a corn dog over a pronto pup. There is a difference. A corn dog is made from corn and possibly meat. A pronto pup is made from wheat and possibly meat.

Either way, they are proof that the Fat Fairy has made a visit.

I checked a lot of food stands for things I have been expecting to show up. I was disappointed not to find beet sandwiches or radish sandwiches. Why no one offers mashed potatoes and hamburger gravy push-ups is beyond me. I was pleased to discover that no one was offering weasel on a stick and advertising it as &uot;America’s other yellow meat.&uot; What I did find a lot of people chowing down on was nearly as disgusting as a weasel on a stick. People were actually eating deep-fried Milky Way candy bars on a stick

and deep-fried macaroni and cheese on a stick. Next year, I fully expect to see deep-fried Twinkies on a stick.

There are always Elvis impersonators. Some were flakier than the &uot;before&uot; part of a Head And Shoulders Shampoo TV commercial. Johnny Carson once said, &uot;In a perfect world, Elvis would still be alive and all the Elvis impersonators would be dead.&uot; Most of the impersonators dyed their hair black, just like the King had done to his brown locks. I listened to their songs. They were really quite good, but there was something missing. It took me a while to figure out what it was, but it finally dawned on me. What was missing was Elvis Presley. If Elvis were still alive, he would be 67 years old. With all of that pelvis abuse, there is no doubt that Elvis would be the proud owner of a pair of artificial hips.

Politicians come out of every nook and cranny at the Fair. These same people who have a tendency to avoid the taxpayer most of the year, become our close personal friends. Be as cautious as a naked man climbing over a barbed wire fence when approached by one. You might want to wear earplugs when near a politician. My father always told me to never trust a man who runs for office. I do know that you have to be careful what you vote for because you just might get it.

How was the Fair this year? It was fair.

Hartland resident Al Batt writes columns for the Wednesday and Sunday editions of the Tribune.