Frederick Kelier stand beneath dozens of stuffed animals and plush hats, watching as competitors at the Midway’s Whac a Mole booth whack pop-up moles to score a prize.
The more times you win, the bigger prize you get. But the bounties most people seem to want three days into the Minnesota State Fair?
“The poo hat and Pikachu,” Kelier said.
Stroll through the rows of carnival games and ask the people behind the counter, and a lot of the time they’ll say the same thing. People – adults and kids – really want Pokemon and poop.
Pikachu – and some of the other original Pokemon
Included in that list is Liz Zieska.
The 27-year-old was at the fair the first day and won a Squirtle. She came back with more Pokemon in mind, and on Saturday was walking around with a Pikachu, Charmander and Bulbusaur in her arms – ticking off each of the four original starter Pokemon, from Blue/Red and Yellow.
“Because I love Pokemon,” Zieska said when asked why she picked those for her winnings.
She’s always loved Pokemon, she stressed, but acknowledged Pokemon Go reignited the interest.
Shortly after its release, Pokemon Go became the most popular mobile game in the U.S. ever, with 21 million daily users, SurveyMonkey said in July. Worldwide it peaked at nearly 45 million – though Bloomberg recently noted it’s tailed off to about 30 million.
So the Pokemon demand makes sense to Patrick Fogarty, who’s been working at fairs for about five years (though this is his first time at the Great Minnesota Get-Together).
He said Pikachus have always been popular – in fact, the stuffed ones last October were back-ordered for months. And at the booth, they were down to one Pikachu (though had some more in a truck to restock).
But with Pokemon Go, people seem to want some of the other Pokemon now too, he said.
What about the 💩?
During a break between players, Tyrone Williams said the Pikachus at his booth have been popular, especially with adults.
But the poo emoji hats – those are probably No. 1, he said.
If you’re at the fair you’ll inevitably see the little brown points poking up above the crowd. (There are some pink and rainbow ones too).
Maria Johnson, there with kids Parker and Hailey, won one herself. Does she, as a responsible adult, feel weird walking around with poop on her head?
“Not at the State Fair,” she said.
And now there are 8-year-olds like Landon Allen, hanging out while wearing the emoji on their head.
“Because I like poop emojis,” he responded when asked why – of all his options – he picked the pile of poo.
His dad, Ryan Allen, stood just to the side holding Landon’s other prize – a small pillow version of, you guessed it, the poo.
“That’s the thing – kids don’t want stuffed animals anymore. Now they want merchandise,” said David Bytheway. He’s been in the booth business for two decades, and on Saturday stood at the mini basketball shot.
That’s when 12-year-old Will Steinhacker came over and scored a bigger prize. So what’d he pick?
A big, pillowy … 😜 emoji.
Why not the poo?
“I don’t want a poop on my head,” he said.