Monday, July 7, 2008

Minnesota Tastes Like Overpriced, Greasy Fair Food

We attend the 26th Annual "Taste of Minnesota!"

It's a free festival in St. Paul, billed by Mayor Coleman as a "celebration of good food, music and fun." We've attended "Taste of" festivals in other states, and always enjoyed the opportunity to sample the best in local restaurant fare.

Apparently this is not what the "taste" in the Taste of Minnesota refers to, however. We wander past only a half dozen restaurant vendors before we're assaulted by popcorn, hot dog, funnel cake, and cheese curd stands (cheese curds? Yeah, I had never heard of them either).

"Maybe 'taste' means flavor. Like this is the metaphorical flavor of the state," I say optimistically as we continue walking through the crowds.

But this can't be it either. We pass row on row of stalls: replica Sean John t-shirts, fabric calendars with personalized photos, fake designer bags, and "Versace" sunglasses (2 for $10). The carnival rides are mostly empty, whirling past with lone riders. It costs $3 to buy a wristband that will enable you to buy alcohol. A Bacardi Razz is nearly $7. The Secretary of State's office passes out "I Will Vote" stickers; the only truly Minnesota booth I notice. A bare-chested man bumps into me and moves on, without excusing himself. I shudder and wipe his sweat from my arm. Teenagers in goth wander aimlessly in long black coats. It's 87 degrees.

We can't find any free water fountains, so we stand in line to pay far too much for a 6 oz. root beer float.

"Penis!" shouts a teenager in line behind us. His friends cackle.

"Vagina!" he shouts again. "Sperm!"

I turn around to face them and make pointed eye contact. They fall silent for a moment.

"Penis penis penis!" the boy yells, and his friends roar with laughter.

The DNB and I stare at each other in disgust.

Really, Minnesota? This event represents your state? Overpriced fair food, illegal knock-offs, and disrespectful masses? Where are the Somali and Hmong populations, with opportunities to experience their cultures? Where is the DNR with information about recreational opportunities in the state's parks? Where is the amazing local food that's kept us out of chain restaurants for nearly a year?

We leave after less than an hour.

1 comment:

dana said...

That sounds really unfortunate (except for the cheese curds, I love those). The "Taste of Springfield" event held here is pretty impressive considering the size of our town-- I would have expected better from your city.

Maybe you should write a letter (or just send the mayor a link)-- it might improve next year.