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Ok, just one more post about the Minnesota State Fair.  Didn’t I say I’m usually in “fair mode” until at least a week after Labor Day, the day the fair ends?  Yes, yes I did.  Still in it, I guess.

Husby and I sat in on a free concert at the Ramberg Center (formerly known as the Ramberg Senior Center) at the fair to hear one of our all-time favorite bands, Jack Knife and the Sharps.  As we’ve been going to the fair for a hundred years we can’t shake the “senior” out of the Ramberg Center building name.  Interestingly, the gigs going on there are much to our liking.  Am I now a senior?  Has the Ramberg Center begun catering to other than seniors (aka people of my age)?  All I know is the room was lined with white, wooden rocking chairs and Husby and I sat in two of them instead of the other park bench style other seating, waiting to hear one rockin’ band.

Jack Knife and the Sharps. Too bad that guy’s big head is in the shot. I did the best I could.

This three-piece band is as good as ever.  Members have changed a bit over the years, but Ric Hollinger, lead, has been a constant for decades.  He’s a boss.

Then, all of a sudden between songs some guy comes walking up the center aisle shouting about how great the band is.  He looked so familiar.  And why wouldn’t he?  He’s a Hollywood star.  Chris Mulkey.  Don’t know him?  Check out the photo and you’ll probably recognize him.

Chris Mulkey. That guy you instantly recognize but can’t quite place him. He’s usually a bad guy in the movies.

So Chris comes walking up the aisle and the band invites him to play.  Come to find out Chris has (or had) a band himself.  He’s a great musician as well as a great actor and producer.  Oh what I wouldn’t do for so much talent.

Once we figured out who he was I had to take some pictures.   Chris was great and was backed up by The Sharps fabulously.

Close to the end of his song he said through the mic that his the guitar was silent, and it was.  Amplifier malfunction!  Chris kept singing as Ric tried to reconnect the amp to the guitar with no success.  The set thus ended.

 

Ric, gets up to the mic and says, “we have another amp in the truck.  You know what that rhymes with…”  The set was cut a little short, but was fabulous despite the technical difficulties.  Chris played the room and shook some hands in the audience and disappeared into the crowd outside the building.

Yay for the Ramberg (Senior) Center for booking Jack Knife and the Sharps.  The band is wonderful as ever, and having a special Hollywood guest star was an extra treat.

Did you see Chris Mulkey wandering around at the Minnesota State Fair this year?

Here’s a little taste of Jack Knife and the Sharps…

 

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Winter Is Coming

Don’t be too scared, winter isn’t here yet.  But as my Grandma Harriet always said, “after the State Fair comes Christmas.”   I’m usually in State Fair mode at least a week after Labor Day.

For me, Husby, and most of my family the State Fair is…

Ick.  That’s not me having big fun, but midway art is always a treat to view.

It’s not all fun and games at the fair though.  I saw some random woman trying to feed a grisly bear and getting her hand bitten off…

For the most part things aren’t this scary at the fair.  This year the weather was perfect except for a couple days of rain.  Two out of twelve isn’t bad at all.

This is Fairborne, the nephew of the official MN State Fair mascot, Fairchild. He struck a lovely pose for my camera!

 

The Mighty Midway flags waving proudly atop the Balloon Pop game on the midway.

 

Twilight at the fair.

This year’s fair was fabulous, as usual.  There were changes made here and there, but traditions stay strong throughout.  So long for now to the Great Minnesota Get-Together.  I’ll be back next year to reconnect with all of the education, excitement, people greeting (and watching), and of course the food.  Until next year…

Fly high.

 

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If you live in Minnesota you don’t need to be told we’re in the midst of the Minnesota State Fair.  At the Auntie B’s Wax World Headquarters the fair takes center stage.  Housework is brought to a halt, cooking is done infrequently, and my schedule revolves around the Great Minnesota Get-Together, twelve days of food on a stick, squealing children, history and tradition.

This year a giant came to visit.  It’s on the corner of Randall Avenue and Cooper Street.  It’s name is The Great Big Wheel, and it’s fabulous.

It’s one of the tallest traveling Ferris wheels in North America and Minnesota was fortunate to be one of its stops.  It’s over 150 feet tall and one of the smoothest Ferris wheels I’ve ever experienced on a fairgrounds.  No squeaks, no grinding.  The view from the cab is spectacular.

The whole three-hundred acres of the fairgrounds can be seen from the top of this giant.

I had the pleasure of boarding this giant with my parents.  My dad is working his 50th year at the fair this year and I couldn’t resist sharing the experience with him.

Not only can you see the entire fairgrounds from the top of the wheel, you can see the skylines of St. Paul and Minneapolis…at the same time!

At the right side horizon you can see part of the Minneapolis skyline.

The Ferris wheel not only gives a great view of the fairgrounds but also puts on a fabulous light show.  Even if you don’t like heights or don’t want to take a ride, at least stop by and see the lights.  They’re magical.

The Great Big Wheel isn’t a permanent fixture.  It’s a traveling Ferris wheel and seeks new places to amaze all over North America.  Catch it while you can.

The Minnesota State Fair is pulling out all the stops until Labor Day.  It’s worth the trip, even if you don’t live in Minnesota.

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There’s a band hanging around the Twin Cities these days.  They have fun playing and they’re fun to listen to.  I can only imagine what their practicing sessions are like. I like to catch them whenever I can because, well, two of the members are my nephews.

Forrest Miller and the Lodge Boys get their inspiration from the likes of Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard and Levon Helm.  Toe-tapping music at least, if not something to make you jump up and grab your gal (or guy) for a spin.  Listening to these guys play is nothing less than entertaining, and after hearing them play I have at least one of the songs echoing through my mind for days after.

Forrest Miller, in his summertime garb. Country music with a Hawaiian shirt? Yeah, he can pull it off.

 

Nick Griffiths, musician extraordinaire. I even heard him yodel once.

 

Spencer Miller, the coolest bassist ever.

 

Michael Rainville, Jr., keeping the beat no matter what.

The band has a loyal following…

A smattering of fans at Dickman Park in Northeast Minneapolis.  What a great way to spend a summer evening in the city.

 

The band even inspires Minneapolis’ finest and Nordeast bigshots to sing along.

Guess what?  Forrest Miller and the Lodge Boys are playing a gig at the Underground Music Café in St. Paul this week.  You can come and see them, and better still there’s no cover charge!

At the Underground last November. They were a hit!

The food and beverages at the Underground are great and it’s a cozy venue.  Support the arts and drop a bill or two into the fishbowl for the band.

This time Forrest Miller and the Lodge Boys will be playing acoustic – something I’ve never heard them do before.  I’m totally going to be there.

See Forrest Miller and the Lodge Boys at the Underground Music Café this Thursday, August 17 at 7:00 p.m.  No cover, great food and drink, tip the band if you want.  (This is an unpaid gig.)  I’ll be tipping big, because my little grown-ass nephews are stars in my eyes.  It’ll be a great event!

 

 

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Eye Of The Beholder

Husby says it’s a weed.  I say it’s beautiful.

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Today is my birthday.  I’m indifferent about my age so I might as well just not even mention the number.

Husby took me on the birthday outing of my choice – a trip to the Minnesota Zoo.  We haven’t visited in quite a number of years so I thought it would be a fun day.  We saw some amazing things, and I even managed to remember to take a few photos.

Beautiful and graceful flamingos. Did you know the sound they make is almost cow-like? That’s what I thought, at least.

 

A slew of very peppy prairie dogs. I love their tiny, little ears.

 

A very large bear. He kept scratching his snout.

I didn’t take a ton of photos because well, you know, being in the moment and all.  However, I did manage to get a good collection of otter photos.  There were several varieties of these playful little creatures and I couldn’t resist taking a shot or two of each.

Here’s one getting ready to slide down a miniature waterfall.

 

Now we see a couple swimming on their backs and having some lunch.

 

It was naptime for these three little otters.

We saw everything from mudpuppies to kangaroos, from tigers to leafy sea dragons, but the otters will always manage to steal my heart.  An otter birthday for me with an otter year to anticipate.

Happy birthday to me!

 

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Anyone who knows me knows I love the Minnesota State Fair. In less than a month the great Minnesota Get-Together will be in full force and I can’t wait.

 

The main reason I love the fair so much is because I was brainwashed at an early age by my dad who loves the fair even more than I do.  I harken back forty years or so and remember how Dad would take me and my sister to the grounds on set-up day where we’d watch Royal American set up the rides on the midway.  We’d peek into the train cars for a glimpse of carnival life.  We’d meet and greet all sorts of “human (and animal) oddities” (known then as “freaks”) going about their regular lives, and chatted things up with concession operators (big hello to Johnny Bolan up there in the big Midway in the sky).  We mustn’t dismiss the carnies…I could write a whole ‘nother post about the carnies. *sigh + heart flutter*  I was a young child, very impressionable, and Dad passed down generations of carnival love to me.  I totally love carnivals and fairs, especially the Minnesota State Fair.

Here’s the thing – the Minnesota State Fair doesn’t just happen. There are a lot of people, employees and volunteers, who pull it all together, and is not funded by public money. There’s also an organization called the Minnesota State Fair Foundation which is dedicated to the preservation and improvement of the historic Minnesota State Fairgrounds, and supports State Fair agricultural, scientific and educational programs.

Because Husby and I love the fair we donate as much as we can to the Minnesota State Fair Foundation. The Foundation gives perks to donators too.  A donation of $25 or less will get you a Friend of the Fair ribbon, the annual State Fair pin, a Blue Ribbon Bargain Book (coupons worth over $500 worth of savings in food and fun stuff at the fair) and a discount at the State FairWear shops on the fairgrounds.   Perks increase as the donation does.  Husby and I were lucky enough to be offered a personal tour of the fairgrounds by one of the Foundation big shots.  We love State Fair big shots (because they make it all happen) and this one was a really nice guy and showed us a very fun and informative time.

As my dad is known (mostly to himself) as Mr. State Fair I asked our tour guide if he could join us for the tour. “Of course!” We rode around the 300 acres of grounds learning history and seeing improvements facilitated by the Foundation. It was great.

Dad, donned in his State Fair garb, ready for a tour with Lynn Varco, Senior Director of Major and Planned Giving.

If you’re a Minnesota State Fair lover I’d encourage you to donate to the Foundation. They do wonderful work even though it may be work that’s invisible to the typical fair goer.  Despite some of the invisibility all of it is very important in the preservation of the buildings and much, much more.  (Gotta love those new bathrooms scattered around the grounds and the new elevator in the Grandstand.  Yep, that’s the Foundation’s work!)   Go to the Minnesota State Fair Foundation website to learn more and donate if you can. Contributions are tax deductible! Above all, come to the Great Minnesota Get Together August 24 through September 4, 2017.

Thanks to the Foundation and many donors for making our state fair a great state fair.  Don’t miss it, don’t even be late!

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