Minnesotans are known to be a sensitive bunch whenever a major national news outlet turns its focus to the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
You can forgive Minnesotan readers of the New York Times a little trepidation, therefore, when they find out that one of the world's leading newspapers has published a feature called "A Newbie at the Minnesota State Fair."
But you can breathe a sigh of relief, the piece by freelance reporter Allison Duncan, a recent arrival in the Twin Cities, contains no major faux pas reminiscent of the NYT's famous "grape salad-gate."
On the whole it's a gosh darn positive piece about The Great Minnesota Get-Together, which Duncan was visiting for the first time, even though she wasn't a great fan (correctly, in this writer's opinion) of The Miracle of Birth Center.
She seems to have taken to experience like a gray duck to water, noting: "I broke a personal record, for most junk food consumed in a day."
Here are some of the key points to take from the NYT's piece, which you can read here.
On the entertainment:
"I saw buff men in plaid competing in events like the ax throw, the speed climb and the springboard chop at the Timberworks Lumberjack show. I admired the gigantic pumpkins of the Giant Pumpkin Contest (the winner weighed 1,108 pounds) and Christmas tree No. 14, whose needle retention, scent and conifer shape made it a fan favorite in the Christmas tree competition. I spent a disproportionate amount of time watching fairgoers zoom down a 170-foot-long rainbow-colored Giant Slide."
On the food:
After trying out a Pronto Pup, Mouth Trap cheese curds, deep fried apple pie, a cider freeze, a First Kiss apple and some fresh-squeezed lemonade, Duncan made one last stop.
"One of the best tips I received before going to the fair was to save Sweet Martha’s for last. The bucket holds nearly four dozen cookies and isn’t exactly convenient to carry throughout the day. So, with a too-full stomach and sore feet, I joined a 45-minute line for baked goods."
On the Miracle of Birth Center:
Duncan says she went to the center "expecting to witness something uplifting," but it turns out it wasn't all it cracked up to be.
"A sow was in the throes of delivering a litter of piglets. There was a man using a forceps-like tool to extract a stuck piglet while the crowd watched with bated breath in the bleachers. That particular piglet made it out alive, if bloodied, but the next was stillborn and immediately carted away in a plastic bag. My only solace was a little boy who asked, of the pig in labor, 'Why are we looking at the butt?'"