Here’s what you do: you go to the Minnesota State Fair with at least four or five people in your party. Then everybody chooses one or two things to eat and shares with the group—that way, you get a small sample of a lot of different things. (Added bonus of sharing small bites: not suffering a coronary by the end of the day.)
Don’t worry if you don’t have enough butter for your roasted corn on the cob—
I know where you can find more.
Every year that I lived in Minneapolis I told myself I’d do a piece of crop art someday and enter it into the State Fair. Well, I never got around to the real thing, but I did draft an idea in my sketchbook!
It really doesn’t matter, though—I’m just glad I got to spend so much time perusing the ag displays every year. Growing up, I was too much of a city kid to do anything like 4-H, so I guess the fair is my chance to live vicariously through a bunch of farm kids and their charges.
Oh, that—and die and go to heaven every time I saw the vintage seed sacks.
By the time I’d get to the other end of the ag pavilion, I’d have forgotten all about the rides and cheese curds—I guess I was mesmerized by all those blue ribbons.
Even though it’s been years since I lived in the Twin Cities, and the Great Minnesota Get-Together was a part of my summer tradition, I can’t bring myself to switch allegiance. No matter how much time goes by, to me there is no other state fair than the Minnesota State Fair.
This year’s Fair is already in full swing. I can’t be there in person, so instead I’ll be devoting this week’s posts to my favorite Fair traditions and highlights. Let’s just say…there will be butter.
To all my Minnesota friends: have fun this year, and eat some cheese curds for me!
I did this sketch on a Friday afternoon last year, having escaped after an insane week of deadlines and project-juggling. Here I am on a similar Friday, and the thought of spending the afternoon in the sun, on an island, staring out over pristine blue water with just the breeze and the sparrows for company—well, it sounds pretty darn perfect to me.
Now where’s that ferry schedule…
I really should have a bumper sticker that says something like “I brake for tiny fishing villages.” I know I’m not the only one, either. I figured Blue Rocks would be another Peggys Cove in terms of number of fellow tourists—but I was so happy to be mistaken. That morning, at least, it was just me, my sketchbook, and the mirror-like calm of the cove.
Usually when I travel, I’m hurrying around everywhere, frantically sketching as many things as humanly possible (since I often travel alone, I can get away with this!). But when I travel with a friend, sometimes it’s nice to just sit for a spell and capture the moment. Because for me, that’s the best thing about having a travel companion: having the experience together.
I’m sure this place is just crawling with tourists in the summer, but on the October evening I was there, it was just me, my sketchbook, and a nice slice of history.
I loved Mork & Mindy as a kid—not simply because it was funny, but because it’s the first show I watched that had a strong sense of place. Silly comedies aside, it’s amazing how much that quality has affected me now—has affected the person I have become. And I realized that so much of Robin Williams’s work has had that inherent sense of place—The Birdcage, Mrs. Doubtfire, Insomnia, Jakob the Liar, Dead Poets Society, etc.—that I love so much, that I look for everywhere.
So thank you, Robin, for giving me so much more than a good laugh. May you be at peace.
If you want the best cannoli it’s possible to get outside of Italy, you really can’t go wrong in Boston’s North End—there are plenty of places that will deliver the goods (special shout-out to Maria’s!). Probably the most famous are Modern Pastry and it’s rival, Mike’s. I’ve visited both many times over the years, and you know? They’re both wonderful. (Mike’s is especially good if you want something other than a cannoli, for a change—lots and lots of choices there.) To me it’s not worth it to go into the finer points of which ricotta is slightly sweeter, which shell is heavier, etc. Either way, I’m not complaining.
But hey—I’m an illustrator, not a food critic. If it’s going to take something extra to make me choose between two fabulous pasticcerie, I’m goin’ with the place with the best neon sign.
I have no idea why, but it seems like every time I pass through eastern Wyoming or western South Dakota, it ends up being in the thick of the Sturgis Rally. (Hmm…I wonder if the Hell’s Angels are there right now…) It’s really the one time of the year where taking the back roads in that part of the world doesn’t guarantee you a highway all to yourself—as evidenced by our attempt at stopping for gas in the tiniest of towns. Still, the long wait for the pumps provided plenty of sketchbook gold—so I’m not complaining.
If you happen to be reading this from the Black Hills, have a great time at Sturgis this year—and drive safely!