Ben and I were more than a little sad tonight after reading our friend Jessica's blog. She mentioned that THIS WEEKEND... (get ready for it)...
I know, take a moment to catch your breath. It is an entire week filled with festivities like pig races (every night at 8pm), the "world's largest rat", they have a pretty cool petting zoo, fried cheese curds, great live 80s music, 4H cattle and horse shows, car races, and let's not forget the beer gardens... And before you think I'm being facetious, we really are sad to be missing the fun. Let me explain...
We moved to Owatonna, MN in February 2006. To give you a feel for this quaint place we called home a year...here's a pic of the town square (for all you fans...very Gilmore Girls-esque...).
From our VERY FIRST DAY in town, we began hearing about the Steele County Free Fair. (Note that I said we moved there in February...the fair does not start until August...) For real, when we would meet someone new they would ask a very typical question...
O-Town Peeps: "So what street do you guys live on?" (with the Minnesota accent, of course.)
Ben and I: "Havanna Road."
O-Town Peeps: "Ohhh...you're so lucky! You won't even have to try and find parking when the fair gets here...it's only two blocks from your house! You can walk there every day!"
Ben and I: "Huh??"
O-Town Peeps: "Can we be friends now and use your driveway to camp in?"
Like I said, it was only February and banners like the one below could be seen all over Owatonna:
Seriously, people in that town were counting down to the fair like it was Christmas or something... "only 183 more days until the fair!"... you get the picture. We didn't get it. It was just a fair, right??? NOOOOOO. This is the event of the year for Minnesota and most of the midwest. People drive in for hours and camp out there the ENTIRE WEEK with the whole fam. It's crazy!!! If I wouldn't have seen it with my own eyes, then I wouldn't believe it. Definitely put our great Texas State Fair to shame...not by what was there, but by sheer numbers and fair fanatics that showed up. You could see the fair from our house and right across the street from us started field upon field of campers, trailers, tents...you name it. The fair went up and people just kept coming. It was pure entertainment. We literally could not get our cars out of the garage/driveway all week. (I have a witness...my good friend, Emily, came to visit us that week from Texas...can I get an Amen!?!?) Thank goodness the entire town shuts down that week and we didn't have to go to work!
In all seriousness, we really do miss being in Owatonna and hanging out with everyone. Such great memories were made and we think about you all every day. For those of you still in Owatonna, have a blast this week / weekend for us. Wish we there! Here's some pics with our fellow Steele County Free Fair-goers of 2006...
Ben & Holly, Bo & Kristie, Mike & Elizabeth, Nate & Abby
Trevor, John, Ben, & Kyle = TROUBLE
Kristie, Amy, Lisa, Stephanie, Abby, & Holly
And for all of you thinking about taking a road-trip up to the northern tundra to check out the fair for yourself...well, here's a few rules we learned that you better follow when visiting Minnesota:
1. Don't order a steak at a Perkin's. It's a diner. They serve breakfast 24 hours a day. Let them cook something they know.
2. Don't laugh at the names of their little towns: Fertile, Moorehead, Climax, Cummings...you might find yourself in some trouble.
3. Don't plan on ordering a coke or even a soda. Up there it's called 'Pop'. Accept it.
4. Don't refer to them as hicks. They know their heritage...most believe they are more literate, more educated, and generally a lot nicer than you.
5. They are fully aware of how cold it gets in Minnesota in the winter, so shut the heck up.
6. Do not order the vegetarian special at the local diner. Everyone will instantly know that you're a tourist. Eat your steak rare, like God intended, and have some potatoes with that for heaven's sake!
7. Don't try to fake a Minnesota accent. They don't have accents.
8. Under NO circumstances should you EVER mention the movie "Fargo" as that will incite a riot and you will get your butt kicked.
9. Don't talk about how much better things are at home because MN folk know better. They've been to the big cities like Dallas, Detroit, New York, and Chicago...and they have enough sense not to live in those filthy, smelly, crime-infested, cesspools! If you don't like it in MN, Northwest airlines is ready when you are.
10. Don't ridicule their mannerisms. They only speak when spoken to. That's not rude...it's respecting other people's space. Southerners don't practice this.
11. Last, but not least...DO NOT DARE go out there and tell them how the Vikings and the Twins suck. If you do this, you'll have a first-class ticket home in a pine box.