John & Hank Green, on tour.

Thanks to Kelly, I got to experience John and Hank Green on John’s book tour for Turtles All the Way Down. (When you are a successful YouTuber with your brother, you BOTH go on book tour, even if only one of you wrote the book.)

Here’s John reading from the book.  When I read the book later, I realized he read from two different sections.
We had a visit from Hank disguised as Dr. Lawrence Turtleman. He taught us about tuataras, which are reptiles from New Zealand which are NOT lizards.  Unfortunately, Dr. Turtleman’s PowerPoint wasn’t working, so the good doctor did the PowerPoint from memory.  We had partially obstructed seats which gave us a view of the various people working backstage to try and get the PowerPoint to work.

Hank did some singing and we got our own personal Dear Hank and John Podcast (parts of which made it on the Dear Hank & John episode #114 that compiled this segment from several cities).  We finished the night with a lusty rendition of the Mountain Goats’ “This Year” as sung by the crowd, John, and played and sung by Hank.

Last time, when Matt and I saw John and Hank on book tour, they had a van.  Things have changed.

Here we are, fourth from the end.
It was a fun night. Thanks, Kelly.

Minnesota State Fair Day One: Winding Down

We visited the shopping area under the grandstand.  There were many ways to part with your money, including some ice cream, spread thin, and then rolled up.  Sara and I opted for this photo. You can see Shawn and Sara also took pictures here when they visited the fair a few days before I arrived.  

At this point, I was very thirsty, and Shawn and Sara decided to partake of some roasted corn. We first visited this ticket booth (right next to the gator on a stick) to get tickets that would allow us a “pop” (me) and sweet corn (Shawn & Sara)

Then, it was a matter of getting to the front of the large conglomeration of people all headed in the same direction.  There was no “line.”  I used my skills–moving through crowds is one of my secret talents–but got stuck for a long time in front of a woman who had a technique going.

All of those kids in the picture below new their jobs. One or two people pulled corn out of the oven into bins, bunches of people pulled back the husks (leaving them on–they served as holders.) Then other people would grab an ear of corn in each hand and walk up to the counter.  People would hold up their ticket, and exchange it for an ear of corn, usually stopping to pour salt or a cinnamon sugar blend (?) on their ear, or wrap it in foil.  Every once in a while, someone would squeegee off the counter.

The woman in front of me was getting perhaps 10 ears of corn. But she would look at each ear going by and only hold up her ticket if it was a particularly big ear.  So it took forever for her to clear out and for me to step up to the counter.  Once I got my drink, I just had wiggle back out of the crowd.

Corn eaten, pop drunk, we headed for the shuttle buses.  There was a long line (as with everything at the fair) but it gave me a chance to get some photos of the changing lights on the Ferris Wheel.

When it was time for our shuttle we were ferried home in “choir bus” luxury.

Day One at the Fair was a grand success!  I was so glad to attend with seasoned fair-goers.  I would have been overwhelmed without them there to show me the ropes.

Minnesota State Fair Day One: Yarn Bomb

Walking up to the Grandstand shops, we were afforded this nice view:

And also the great Minnesota Yarn Bomb.  Much yarn bomb knitting on display!

Also, these women, getting their photo taken, plus another woman who was either incredibly aloof, or just not with them.

Yarn bomb horse! (With corn dog) Minnesota nice, and the works of Crochet Twin Cities

Another horse

A view of the crowd.

Sara was enlisted to take a photo of some fair-goers, so I took the opportunity to take a photo of her taking a photo.

A knit Elvis

And more ways to illustrate the crowds.

Fun, food-inspired yarn bombs, with model, complete with foot kick.

Some memorializing of Prince

Minnesota State Fair Day One: Let’s visit the animals

These bunnies have a black stripe down their back.

We watched this goat contest long enough to see the winners.

The announcer said a lot of words into his microphone, but they weren’t very articulated words, so I caught pieces here and there.  (Acoustics might also have contributed to the problem.)

We were sitting in the bleachers, but many people stopped wandering and watched the contest.

Some post-contest chatting.

Grooming stations.

Cows! I was starting to lose the light and animals tend to be too twitchy for low-light situations.  Thank goodness these two were sleeping.

Past winners.

Minnesota State Fair Day One: My First Butter Princesses

When people questioned me as to just what I would DO at the Minnesota State Fair, one of the things I told them was, “And! They have butter princesses!  I have never seen a butter princess before!”  People’s knowledge of what a butter princess is, as well as their reactions to the existence of them, is a good screener for fellow fair friends.

And here are my first butter princesses!  This one is coming soon.  Sara told me that one is sculpted for each day of the fair.  So if you come on the first day, you see a lot of blocks of butter with pictures on them, and only one princess.

Here’s a nicely finished one:

Facts about the butter sculptures:

All of them incorporated some swoopy hair details.  I’m guessing that butter “swoops” well.

Completed and up-and-coming

And here are the butter princesses, in their human form.  If you come at the right time of day, you can chat with them.

There was a long line for the Dairy Women’s ice cream.  I opted for a picture of the line, rather than the product.

Sara nails the Turkey look.  I’ve got to work on my head-in-the-hole skills.

Minnesota State Fair Day One: Agricultural Building & Crop Art

We headed to the Agricultural Building.  It’s a great Art Deco monolith.  You’ll see it from above later.

Pike Schemes never misses a head-in-the-hole opportunity.  Sara and I partook.  Shawn captured us nicely, I think.  (Until I set up this post, I had no idea what the front of this display looked like.)

There were other agriculture props for us.

Corn.  And some winning corn.

We stood in line to see the Crop Art.  I didn’t even know it was a thing, but boy, is it a thing.  There are rules (only seeds that can produce a crop in Minnesota) and anyone who enters will have their work displayed.  There is even a category for out-of-state people. I noticed Portland author Cathy Camper’s had a piece entered.  I had no idea she did crop art.

There were a lot of political themes.  You can see how the artists had to also display a key of what made up their seed art.

I thought this one had the best use of  a hashtag.

These shoes seemed to be an example of seed art gone wrong. (Sorry Susan.)

Some of them looked more like paintings, like that one of Buster Keaton.  And it’s always nice to see RBG in the house.

This intricate entry caused a lot of cheery commentary.

Sweet Martha’s Cookies are only available at the fair. (And apparently, three other events.)  The lines are long. They come in a bucket, lovingly rendered here, in seed art form. More amazing crop art.

My favorite was this map of Minnesota authors.

Here was another well-done political seed art.

Aside from a variety of scarecrows, there were also vintage feed sacks to look at.

Also, the bathrooms in the Agriculture building were great. There was a woman working the door, who would monitor stall usage and tell the first person in line which stall to go to.  This meant no looking under the stalls or wandering about.  Very efficient!

In the Minnesota Fruit section was my one of my favorite fair items.

Frozen cider!  Inexpensive and so delicious!  I bought one the next day, too.

Minnesota State Fair Day One: 4-H

We next visited the 4-H building, which was sprawling.  The Arts-In people were mid-performance when we arrived, but we opted to look at the displays.  I planned to go back the next day to catch the full performance.

There were many books of projects to look through.  This 4-H-er spent less than $30 to make this string art.

The informational posters are often my favorite part.

Like this one.  Who doesn’t need to know more about the song “Don’t Stop Belivin'”?

And maybe you have some cosplay needs?

Aside from showing off one of the many 4-H banners on display, this is also my favorite thing I found in the 4-H hall.  What an interesting way to study the root system of soybeans and corn.

And here’s a good lesson for all.

And maybe you need a baby jogger converted into a gun rack?  This 4-H-er has got you covered.

Another banner.  I’m wondering if each group doesn’t make a new one every year?  I don’t think that fidget spinners would have been on people’s radar last year.

I’m going to say this a lot, but the sheer quantity of everything about the fair was mind-boggling.  All of these items had to be collected and then hung, then will be taken down and redistributed.  How many volunteers does it take?

4-H skill at building furniture was on display.

I leave you with science, and cheese.

Minnesota State Fair Day One. Getting there and Fine Arts

It’s fair time!  Sara and I walked to the U of M shuttle stop and waited. Then realized that we forgot to bring the tickets.  Then we waited for Shawn to appear with the tickets (the original plan was that he was going to join us later) only to eventually figure out that he took the city bus system, not the shuttle system.  It gave us time to observe the large amounts of people who take the shuttle to the fair. The buses come regularly.  Every five to 15 minutes.

Reunited with Shawn at the entrance!   Here’s a poorly taken self-portrait at the streetcar arch.  It was great Shawn and Sara bought tickets online before the fair started.  The line to buy tickets on-site was very, very long. Long lines come with the fair, so it was nice to skip that one.

The fair even has mapped out the best place for a self-portrait.

There were a lot of people there.  Apparently, it had rained the previous weekend, so THIS was the weekend to go.

How many people attended on this day?  254,431.  Yep. Bigger than my hometown of Boise, Idaho.

Shawn navigated us through the crowds and we took in the fine art at the fine arts building. I “bought” Sara a lot of things.  There was a really cool Rube Goldberg machine that was not for sale.  Which was too bad, because interest was high among the fair-goers.  It probably would have gone for a good price.

This volunteer kept an eye on us, and was ready to help.  Notice the stack of pencils to his left.