Tiny House Expo

For my birthday, Matt bought me a ticket to the Tiny House Expo.  This was a very good present, as I love tiny houses. At the expo, people had a chance to tour several tiny houses as well as visit vendors.

I went early, which was a very good move. Tiny houses don’t hold very many people, which meant even at 9:30 in the morning, there were lines to get into each tiny house.

I loved the curved roof on this model.

Apologies for the blurry picture.  This model had just sold.  It cost $150,000.  (Yeesh!)

This person apologized because he forgot to bring his step.  This was fine by me, as I could easily take the big step up into the house.

Inside the step-less house.  I loved how the kitchen was not skimpy.

I liked the shed roof design of this house.  Plus, this company, Tiny Smart House, has a very fun Build-it-Yourself Program where you can build your tiny house on-site and take advantage of workshops, discounted group material buying.  So smart!

Here’s a tiny house camp trailer, which you can follow on Instagram @tinyhousecamptrailer.  They had a lot packed into a small space.

Here is a tiny house made out of a shipping container. It was very sleek.

I really liked how open and airy these big windows made this house feel.

Here’s the floor plan

A lot of houses were using this water system.

The teardrop camper people were there too.  I love me a good teardrop camper, especially one as nice as this one.

Hiddenbed of Oregon had a very good design.  During the day: desk.
At night: bed.  Nicely done. The desk stays flat, so you don’t have to disassemble and reassemble every night. Cost for a double bed? $2100.

You could also have your own geodesic dome.  I have affection for domes, as they were not uncommon in the landscape of my 80s childhood.

Overall, I had a great time.  Thanks Matt.

Also! The square lights at the Convention Center! So fun!  And my mind boggles at how all those things got into this building.  Convention center logistics must be no joke.

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 Two: Sunset, Amateur Talent Show, Fireworks

The sun was beginning to set which meant it was time for…

The Amateur Talent Contest Finals! (Sponsored by Jack’s Pizza.)

There were 26 individual entries into the contest. They had been winnowed from the daily talent contests held at the fair, after passing their audition in July.   There were seven preteen, nine teen and 10 open participants.  All of the talent on display was amazing. I was amazed that the judges could pick any winner.  (And then mostly annoyed at what they did pick.)

Some highlights for me were Gigi Bragg, who was a tiny little thing that killed it with “Don’t Rain on My Parade.”  After everyone had performed they had time-filling stuff while they tallied results.  The singer and the band did “Don’t Rain on my Parade” and I found it to not be as effective.

I also really loved Eden Nesburg & Page Mackendanz, who sang “River Deep, Mountain High.” Their music cut out early on–something the crowd only became gradually aware of. They got to come back later on to re-do their performance. Both performances were filled with joy and memorable.

I also enjoyed Amber Feind & Mikayla Meyers, another vocal performance but in the open division.  Aside from liking them, I also liked that they were two normal-looking women who were not as young as some of the people in the open division.  The Famrez Dance Team was really great to watch too.  I like when acts with multiple people advance.  Every person you add to your group makes it that much harder to schedule practice time.  The beatboxing guy, Cameron Latinen, was also quite good.

In the end, a lot of classical musicians won, which I find boring.  Though Gigi Bragg did win third place in the Preteen division.  I also shouldn’t be really grumpy about the Teen division because a band of middle school kids playing “The Thrill is Gone” won, but the other two winners were opera (the kind of flouncy opera that I do not like) and violin.

In the Open division, all three winners were men, which annoyed me, although my beatboxing guy came in third place and Rush Parrish, the overall winner seemed to have an enthusiastic following. He won $10,000 (and quantities of Jack’s Pizza) so this contest was no joke.

Just in case you might forget who the sponsor was.

Afterward, there were fireworks.

And with that, I attempted to buy olives on a stick, failed due to the late hour and settled for mini-donuts. I headed off to wait for the bus home. 

The Minnesota State Fair was a wonderful experience and I could have done an additional day to catch all the things I missed, even after spending more than 16 hours at the fair. I also learned too late that the fair opens at 6 am, and it would have been fun to start the day with the fair, to see the difference in crowds, activities, lines, etc.

For those of you who haven’t had enough of the Minnesota State Fair, please enjoy this documentary from the Twin Cities PBS station: State Fair Traditions

It’s got a lot of good stuff, both interesting vintage photos and interesting facts (The fair is 320 acres. Attendance numbers are triple what they were in the 1930s, but in the same amount of space.)  It’s also fun to see some of the work that goes into making the fair such a fun experience.

Minnesota State Fair Day Two: Skyride

I headed from one sky experience to the other one, with only a quick stop to collect my walking tour prize.

It was interesting to note that the USA representative for Von Roll Ltd. is located in Sun Valley, Idaho.

There was a long line for this, and as I got closer to the front there was a sign that said, “No single riders Friday, Saturday, Sunday.”  I didn’t want to ride with other people!  But I stayed the course and no one said anything as I stood by my lonesome waiting to get on.  It was fun watching the employees helping everyone get onto each gondola. These hold more people, than the chairlifts, so sometimes it would be parents, three little kids, and a stroller being packed in the car in the few seconds they had to load up.

Here I go:

There were not as many people here today as yesterday.  But not by much.  Yesterday the attendance was 254,431, today was 242,759, which was a new attendance record for this day at the fair.  Overall, nearly TWO MILLION people visited the fair this year, making a new record of 1,977,320

Sweet Martha’s cookies has three locations in the fair.  I only passed over this one from the air, but from walking by, I can guess that they all pretty much looked like this one. Shawn says the trick is to go in from the side.

Here’s the giant slide, yet another thing I didn’t get to.

A “backstage” look at some pretty intense cardboard recycling.

Where I ate my cheese curds and key lime pie on a stick

The agriculture building.

Did you want to go through a giant maze while at the fair? You are in luck!

Overall, I preferred the open air Sky Glider to the gondola-like Skyride, but the Skyride does hold more than two people, making it a better choice for families.

Minnesota State Fair: Sky Glider

Having taken the Fairlift at the Oregon State Fair, I was ready for the Sky Glider at this Fair.

The line was long, so I had time to take pictures of Sky Glider riders.

This was also next to one of three Giant Sing Alongs, where you could group karaoke.

The line I waited in. 

RVs and Fifth Wheels for sale, plus the Space Tower and Great Big Wheel in the background.

Various tractors for kids.

We passed over a few roofs, and I was surprised to see a number of discarded bras.

The Great Big Wheel.  Yet another thing I couldn’t quite fit in.

The “feet” picture.

Me with the Great Big Wheel

Maybe you’re in the market for a new riding mower?

There was a rental space, where Molly & Bob had chosen to celebrate their 50th anniversary.  The other half of the rental space was a wedding!

Looking to buy some kids’ play equipment?  Lowest prices of the year.

So many people.

Minnesota State Fair Day Two: Eco Experience Progress Center and Log Rolling

The Eco Building had all sorts of fun stuff, like this tall, talking Paul Bunyan  He demonstrated not just recycling, but why it’s important to think before you buy.

Air hockey?  Nope.  It’s time to defend your storm drain.

Here’s an illustration of the water table.

And a bar that serves water.  Speaking of, the Eco Building had water bottle refill stations and no line for the bathrooms.

If you wanted, you could pedal a bike and make this bigger bike go.

There was a display of a variety of different bikes used in Minnesota.

Outside the Eco Building, you could try your hand at log rolling.  It looked pretty difficult.

These two participants fell off quickly. Here are the rules.

Minnesota State Fair Day Two: Minnesota 4-H State Arts-In

Look at this glorious Art Deco building!  The Walking Tour brochure says: “Concrete in the building’s horizontal base and central tower conveys a sense of strength meant to boost morale during [the Great Depression.]”

I am here to see the production of “More Than a Wish.”  The State Arts-In is something I’ve never heard of before, so I’m guessing this is a unique-to-Minnesota 4-H experience, or only happens in states where 4-H is a Very Big Deal.  From the brochure:

Minnesota 4-H State Arts-In is a life-changing experience for youth 15-19 years old from across the state. While at State Arts-In, participants develop lifelong skills, and have the opportunity to work closely with professionals who serve as mentors. Each year, 4-H State Arts-In youth perform at least 35 full shows to more than 12,000 audience members.

According to what I’ve pieced together from what the performers told me during the performance and the State Arts-In Facebook page, Prep Week begins on August 10.  At that point, 35 performers, 9 band members, 18 technical crew and 5 costumers from “across the state” (though 34 of 67 come from Anoka county) arrive and create a unique, 30-minute musical which is written, choreographed and staged by the teenagers themselves. Synopsis: Everyone arrives at this beautiful mansion for a fancy party they’ve been invited to.  No one knows why they have been invited. As the songs and exposition unfold it turns out that a brother and sister live at the mansion.  A few people remember helping them out, like when one paid for their gas when they didn’t have any money.  Eventually the brother/sister team reveals that had some hard times in the past, but everyone in the room had helped the brother/sister team at some time.  So that’s why you should always be good people. The End.

There was the guys showcase.

Early on, the girls all shed their long skirts for shorter party dresses, and the guys took off their tuxes.

The Girls had a showcase song/medly too.

Overall, this was a great bit of fun at the fair.  I could have watched it several times.

Minnesota State Fair Day Two: A Quick Run Over to the Barns

I had to hurry down Judson Ave to hit up a few more walking tour spots.  Then I had to hurry back to other way to get to the 4-H building.  Here’s what I saw along the way.

Judson Ave at this particular time had fewer people on it.  That made for some fast walking.  Here come some horses and riders. 

Local blue cheese?  Don’t mind if I do.  (At this point a pie chart of my fair food consumption will show that cheese was a major part of my fair sustenance.)

Outside of the swine barn I saw some cattle coming from the AgStar Arena and headed to the Cattle Barn.

Tag!  Swine barn hole punch.  Now it’s back toward the 4-H building.

On the way I followed this guy, who I assume worked in the Haunted House. (Yes! Your Haunted House needs can also be met at the Minnesota State Fair!) He had knife/finger things on his other hand and got a lot of looks.

I couldn’t figure out why I kept seeing so many of these cups.  It turned out these were the souvenir cups.  If you bought one, refills were cheaper. 

I opted for a plain old root beer in a normal cup.

What else can you get on a stick at the fair?  The Libertarians have Freedom available on a stick. 

Minnesota State Fair Day Two: CHS Miracle of Birth Center

Let’s look at the baby animals!  The informational sign says that they choose animals that are comfortable giving birth around humans.  Good thing, too, because there were a lot of humans in the Miracle of Birth Center.

Goats! Ducklings?  Goslings? Cygnets? I do not know.  I failed on the learning point, but aren’t they cute?


Piglets!  (There were a couple of ones on the end who weren’t very good at finding the right thing to suckle.)

Calf!  Born this very day at 8AM! Unlike the show barns where the animals are super shiny and clean, there was still afterbirth hanging from the mama cow.

More piglets!

Hens doing their egg thing.

The Miracle of Birth Center was fun!

Minnesota State Fair Day Two: Revisiting the Butter Princesses & Sundry Items

I missed another butter princess being sculpted.  Today there seemed to be butter shavings left on the ground. I don’t remember those from yesterday.

This group held up boxes of Wild Rice and called out that they were one dollar.  I bought one.

Maybe you want to look at some sun porches or play houses?  This is your place.  The guy in this picture commented after I took it that he hadn’t seen a “real camera” in a very long time.  This kind of comment always annoys me because 1) It’s not like I just took a time machine from decades ago and used some item that no one has even seen for fifty years. It’s a friggin’ digital camera and takes better pictures (and faster) than the phone.  Also, 2) I saw multitudes of people with cameras after he said that.  Sheesh.

Do you have go-cart needs at the fair?  Those needs can be met.  Do  you need to float on a tube through a man-made water/river situation?  The Minnesota State Fair is your place.