Photos: As the Fair ends, here's something to shoot for next year

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You see many kinds of people at the Minnesota State Fair, but there's one type that we rarely see anywhere else: those people carrying stuffed animals that are almost as large as a human.

If you've ever cruised around the Midway you've probably noticed them.

In fact, sometimes the size of the prize makes it hard to even see who the lucky recipient is.

How do you get these things?

We were surprised to find that nearly every time we stopped someone to ask which Midway game had generated their giant prize, the answer was different. Tossing a ring onto a bottle, shooting a basketball, breaking a bottle with a baseball, throwing a softball into a milk can ... and the list goes on.

Contestants might feel pressure, though, with all the eyes watching them – including the eyes of some potential prizes.

One (even the right one) may not be enough

We've only ever won small animals (Skee ball is our preferred game) but we learned a couple things by watching the big-prize hunters this year.

This guy, for example, showed that while the big stuffed cats at the billiard table may look alike to us – they're apparently not all the same. He rejected two before finding one he'd accept.

We also noticed that for a number of players, one prize was not enough.

Even the winner of the largest prize we saw all day – one still packed in plastic wrap in case it had to be dragged – was last seen looking wistfully at another game, apparently preparing to spend a few more tickets in a quest for additional loot.

And finally, there is the spectacle of seeing the stuffed prizes getting their first glimpses of the Fair beyond the Midway, whether it's the inside of the ag building or an upside down journey to the fish pond.

This could be you, fair reader, so don't miss a chance to sharpen your skills on Whack-a-Mole, the frog-jumping game or any of the other State Fair standbys – they'll all be back at the Midway next August 24.

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Photos: Minnesota State Fair

The rides, the politics, the sweaty teeming masses. And the food! Check out photos from the Great Minnesota Get-Together of 2012 on this Flickr photostream.