One of my favorite times of the year– the Minnesota State Fair! Absolutely love going to the fair and have for my entire life. My family always makes it a point to go at least once and hit all of our favorite spots (which don’t change from year to year) as well as adding a few other spots to try new things! I would have loved to post this as a guide to other fair goer’s who were looking for some good new things to try, but my boyfriend and I traveled down to the cities from Fargo on the second to last day of the State Fair. So, unfortunately, even had I posted it immediately after going to the fair, it is pretty improbable that anyone would have seen or used it on the final day of the “great Minnesota get together.” 😝 Regardless, I will still be posting about some of my favorite spots, one of the best new things I’ve tried, and a few of the things I’ve heard about that I would have loved to try had I saved the room. You never know, come fair time next year you might need a guide. 😉
Sweet Martha’s Cookie Jar
This year we decided to do things a little differently and stop at our favorite cookie stand right away. Obviously, we purchased the big bucket– which was probably a mistake looking back. We ALWAYS buy the bucket (why would you not– its a towering bucket of cookies that you get to carry around all day, especially nice because once you have them you can mix them into any of the other food you buy throughout the day– whether it be ice cream or something super weird) but we usually buy it towards the middle/end of our day so we can eat until the bucket closes, and then save room for the rest of the things we want to eat throughout the day. This is where our error came in– while it was nice enjoying them with our chocolate malt and sneaking bites after greasy french fries or cheese curds to get the sweet after the salty, it was rough filling up on something sweet and then getting hot dogs, corn dogs, fries, cheese curds, etc.
If you haven’t been to the state fair, you probably will underestimate the amount of cookies they put in each bucket. Don’t. Our bucket was overflowing, and the girl helping us called to her coworkers for more cookies to add a whole additional scoop. Seriously, these people do not mess around. We took on the fair with four adults (me, my Dad, brother, and boyfriend) and struggled soooo hard to to eat enough so that the lid fit on the bucket. We ate as many as we could, and then munched throughout the day. Though they are the ABSOLUTE best right when you get them (they’re melty, gooey, soft– basically perfect) and then they harden as the day goes on, still staying moist. Plus, when we went it was a super warm day, so the warm weather kept the cookies soft naturally.
If you haven’t been to Sweet Martha’s, it’s definitely a place to check out– even just to say that you have tried the famous cookies that are an absolute staple of the MN State Fair. The cookie part is delicious, the chocolate sweet and plentiful. Simply a must at the fair.
Fresh French Fries
We moved on from the cookies to my absolute favorite stop at the Minnesota State Fair. The Fresh French Fries stand is near the dairy barn and the haunted house (as well as another location near the teen rides) and is literally the highlight of my state fair day. These french fries come out piping hot in an overflowing bucket, and by the time you finish them your fingers are coated in grease, ketchup, and salt. SO good, SO salty, SO fat and soft with an outside crunch… They are seriously the best thing about the fair. Thankfully, my family is always willing to get a medium sized bucket (such as this one) at least once, sometimes twice throughout our day.
This french fry stand is deceiving to me because I always thought that this was a must hit spot for everyone, but after going with friends’ famililes in high school, I was surprised that many of them hadn’t been to this stand before. I know a lot of people like the garlic fries (from The Ball Park Cafe) but I am not a super huge fan of those– I prefer the simplicity of these classic fries.
The Blue Barn Cafe
The Blue Barn Cafe has won my personal award for best new thing the past TWO years! I found this small spot for the first time last year when Andrew Zimmern (from Bizarre Foods) recommended it as a spot to check out on his blog or website. Bryan was super excited right away about the French Toast Bites (far right photo), so we tried those last year. Honestly, one of my favorite things I’ve ever had at the fair. The french toast bites were awesome– they didn’t taste like the crappy french toast sticks from high school hot lunch that I was picturing. The berry sauce was sweet and had a great texture– not too syrupy, not too runny and juicy. THE WHIPPED CREAM. Oh my God, I could have eaten a bucket of that stuff. It was so fresh, so light and fluffy, and toootally had the cream taste that real whipped cream has. The pop rocks were a fun touch too– something that neither of us had had in a while (especially not on food). I would recommend this to anyone. I thought it was absolutely amazing, and I am so bummed I didn’t get it again this year.
This year, Bryan and I each chose a new item to sample. Bryan had the Wild Bills Breakfast Hash (top left), which was overall average. (The struggle for Bryan at the fair is that he needs a certain amount of real food each day to prevent crabbiness, so he has to try random meals like this– and let the rest of us sample it!! :P) Anyway, this one didn’t do much for me, but I am so obsessed with those french toast bites that the Blue Barn can do no wrong in my eyes!!
My new item was the Blueberry Basil Lemonade (bottom left), which was so amazing. It was so sweet, with the obvious touch of basil adding a unique spin on something that could have been otherwise pretty average. The combination of the sweet lemonade, the almost sour blueberry, and the sweet delicioud basil. I loved this lemonade. We bought one tall glass, and ended up buying a second tall glass immediately after trying it. Especially on a hot day, it was delicous. Super refreshing. Lemonade can also get super sugary and syrupy if something is even a little bit off, and I did not feel like that was the case here. It was so awesome and I would highly recommend to anybody!
Overall, the Blue Barn seems to have quite a few items that can be geared towards breakfast time. I feel like a lot of fair goers want to hit the fair super early in the day and are willing to have something fun and out of the ordinary for breakfast, which makes this stop the perfect spot! High quality food from a cute and organized booth. I loooove the Blue Barn Cafe.
Mouth Trap Cheese Curds
I am such a psycho about these cheese curds– they are to die for. Don’t ruin them with ketchup (and also, don’t plan on having just one). Just plain, they are SO GOOD. Unfortunately, the people that I was with were not super interested in them, so I ended up eating a majority of the cheese curds. Whatever! They are amazing! Even though they fill you up and give you a slight stomach ache (helllooooo, they’re deep fried cheese) these are the best cheese curds that the fair has to offer. They also have a LOT of flavor– like I stated earlier. NO ketchup. Many of my fellow fair goers see ketchup as a staple for cheese curds… I have never understood this. No ketchup, no ranch, no hot sauce… Only the cheese curds. And always from the Mouth Trap! The food building is always so crowded, but for good reason. These are worth the wait, worth the slight stomach ache, and ALWAYS worth the stop. SO good.
The Dairy Goodness Bar
I don’t know how it started, but for as long as I can remember, my family has ALWAYS gone to the Dairy Goodness Bar (located in the dairy barn). This is the place where they carve “Princess Kay of the Milky Way” out of butter, where they showcase some of the competing goodies that Minnesotans make, and sell the infamous “Got Milk?” clothing. This place always has THE BEST ice cream of all time. It is obviously super dairy heavy if that’s something you tend to avoid, but they have the freshest ice cream, yogurt, cheese sticks, etc.
Their newest flavor this year is a little different– it’s called the Pie n’ the Sky and looked totally awesome. It was topped with cookies, lemon curd, and chocolate and looked sooo good. I had to go with my same old, same old: a chocolate malt. One of the best things I had the entire day. So thick and rich, and sooo melty since it was a nice day outside. Like I states earlier, there are SERIOUS PERKS of carrying around the cookie jar all day! My dad and I dunked Sweet Martha’s into our chocolate malt for an amazing flavor combo. I think a lot of people skip this booth because it’s tucked away in the daity barn (which obviously does’t sound super intersting if you aren’t interested in dariy.. which I don’t think many people are..) Anyway, it’s definitely a spot to check out.
Ultimately, I realize that this post comes about a month after the close of the state fair for the season. But, I always have so much fun at the fair trying new things and enjoying my old favorites that I had to share these fab finds!