I was lucky enough to attend the North Dakota State Fair two weekends in a row with my Mom. The fair was held July 18-26 in Minot. We went to two concerts – the first being Lady Antebellum and the next was Brad Paisley. I enjoy these weekends with my Mom, even though it seems like two weekends is practically 1/3 of the summer when the weather took so long to warm up! At $90 per ticket (including fees) this actually isn’t too bad of a deal considering you get a pass for many concerts. Even though we only went to two – it was still a good value. I would have loved to have seen some of the other acts but living over an hour away it just doesn’t work. I think we’d both agree that Brad Paisley was the better performance. He just has so many good songs, is an excellent guitarist and had the graphics, stage presence and humor that made it a great show. His vocal and video humor really made the show. He is funny! He also had two openers – Leah Turner and Deejay Silver. On the other hand, Lady A opened right on time with no opening act (I was quite fine with that as the show got done in plenty of time to enjoy the beer gardens!) and started slow. They warmed up the crowd though and the lead male singer had great stage presence. I imagine as they continue to get bigger, they will be even better. Two great shows! I loved the video Lady A has for “Hey Bartender!”
Before I get to the other details of this post – I have to brag about my Mom. She entered three different pieces to exhibit under the needlework category. This was her first time showing needlework. She came away with a blue, red and white ribbon. Quite exciting! We didn’t know if she got a ribbon so it was exciting to find out that first night. Even if there are no other entries in your category you do not necessarily receive a ribbon so good job Mom. We’d love to see more exhibits but the NDSF does make it a bit difficult, in my opinion. You must drop off your exhibit during a set of dates, during the day and pick them up after a certain time on set dates. If you are busy or working during this time, it is very difficult to enter, especially for those living far away from Minot. Bummer. But congrats to everyone for entering.
But – besides the concerts, the beer, the exhibits and the rides – what we really look forward to is FAIR FOOD! Where else you can find such a collection of fried foods? Boy or boy, they really do fry anything. I think the oddest (most unique?) think I saw fried was Kool Aid. I didn’t try it, but very interesting. The first weekend we attended the fair Friday and Saturday. I was on the hunt for something healthy. This was not an easy task! I finally settled on a chicken gyro at the Santa Lucia booth. I have eaten at Santa Lucia in Fargo (I assume this is the same affiliation?) and loved it. She asked if I’d like a platter with rice and salad. I was hungry so I asked if I could get double the salad, no rice. Sure! Imagine my shock when she said $15. I think that was steep considering the salad was limp iceberg lettuce that had LITERALLY one tomato and one pepperoncini on it. Lesson learned: don’t buy from a booth with no prices listed or ask first. The gyro pita was nice and soft but premade. The onions were good but not a lot of flavor. I ate everything due to hunger but was really disappointed. My Mom got an Italian Sausage and I had buyer’s envy.
Onto Saturday. I finally found the food truck I was looking for. At this truck, Mom and I each purchased an Idaho Taco. This was simply a large baked potato stuffed with taco ingredients such as seasoned beef, lettuce, salsa, cheese, cheese sauce, onions and sour cream for $8. The potato was huge! I thought this was a pretty good value but would have preferred chicken (it was on the menu but she said they didn’t have it?) and more veggies instead of cheese sauce or sour cream, both of which I skipped. I ate all of mine and part of my Mom’s. The potato was hot, fluffy inside and the skin was nice and crispy. I’d get this again!
The first Saturday we went to the fair it warmed up outside. We enjoyed a free stage music of dueling pianos (fantastic) and I decided to cool off with a beer. The beers were pounders and were $6 each. I don’t know if the NDSF inked a lifetime deal with Coors Light or what but that is the only beer there every year. I’d like to see Bud or Miller one year. But the Blue Moon was cool and refreshing.
We had noticed that there was a contest for new food entries. On our way out of the fair on the first Saturday we saw the Wild Rice Burger had won the award at a pretty non-descript burger stand. I looked quickly at the booth and all they offered were burgers. No fries or extra fixings other than onions, ketchup and mustard. Well I love burgers but was it silly to get a burger at the fair of all the fried food glory? And wild rice in a burger? But when we walked by and saw them hand pattying a large burger on a flat top I couldn’t get that burger out of my mind.
Fast forward to the following Saturday. The last day of the fair. The last day for our food indulgences. After sitting in the vehicle for a bit waiting out a small rain cloud, we made our way into the fair. I went straight to the burger stand and got in the fairly long line. I would wait. The line moved quite fast for only 2 workers and a small grill. As we got closer I saw the unbelievable price of only $6 for a burger. I am guessing these burgers were at least 1/3 lb. My Mom and I assumed the wild rice was cooked and mixed into the raw meat. You could get cheese for an extra $1 – looked like pepper jack or grilled onions for no extra charge. Both Mom and I got a plain burger with onions. I topped mine with a bit of ketchup and mustard. I wish I had better photos but we were eating as we walked. These were super fresh and so good. The onions were perfect. I couldn’t really detect the wild rice taste in my patty. I could see it, but I don’t think it added any nuttiness or other special flavor. But this was an excellent burger and in my mind, the best value at the fair. Even the butter dipped bun was perfectly white and soft. These were so good we got in line again after the fair so my Mom could buy one to take home for my dad. If you go next year and they are there – check out this burger!
After our savory burger, we were in the mood for something sweet but just a little bite. It was decided we would share a skewer of chocolate covered strawberries. For $5 we got 5 berries on a stick. These were the sweetest, juiciest berries covered in milk chocolate. Also a great value!
I know they also had something new at the fair where you could do a passport and visit 8 of 10 booths, get a stamp and a free t-shirt or something. Since there was only 2 of us so that idea was out but I think that is an excellent challenge for a crew of people to try out. Fun!
We took time to take in one fair ride (the ferris wheel) and also met up with my cousin and her boys. It was fun to see the fair and their enthusiasm. There isn’t much that can beat warm weather and rides for a 5-year old boy!
Waving at us from his ride. No fear!
The midway from the ferris wheel.
I was kind of nervous up top of the city of Minot! Until next year NDSF. I can’t wait to see what new items you offer in 2015!