The Minnesota State Fair (known as the Great Minnesota Get-Together) is a 12-day event full of chances to see what it means to be a Minnesotan. Beyond the good entertainment and good times to be had, one of the biggest draws to the fair every year is the food.
When we saw that UPAC (University Programming Activities Committee) was offering a bus trip to the State Fair, we knew we had to sink our teeth into the chance to taste-test some of the fair food (and of course) write an article about it. Below you’ll read the accounts of each food we had and both of our perspectives on how much flair was in each food from the fair.
FOOD #1: Cheesy Sriracha Funnel Cake Bites
Hannah: I don’t know if there’s anything more classic at any festival or fair, in my mind, than a funnel cake. I also have grown in my appreciation for spicy things, so this dish checked that box for me. Without a traditional dusting of powdered sugar, I really saw the versatility of funnel cake and was pleasantly surprised with this salty rendition. The fact that this dish was served as bites rather than a full-size traditional funnel cake made it easier to eat. With Parmesan shreds all over and a mildly spicy dipping sauce, this was a great start to my day full of fair food.
Hailey: I’m not going to lie: I was very nervous about trying this first dish. In my mind, funnel cake is traditionally sweet, so the fact that this was savory instead threw me for a loop. I decided to put on my big-girl panties, though, and give it a whirl since the whole point of us going to the State Fair was to try a new fair food or two. Turns out, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it! The bite-size serving was perfect for sharing with my Her Campus companion, there wasn’t too much cheese (FYI there is such a thing) and the sriracha flavor was just right for starting our morning.
FOOD #2: Fresh French Fries (16 oz)
Hannah: You can’t go wrong with another salty dish: french fries! There were so many different iterations of potatoes throughout the fair, but these were simple in the best way possible. However, I don’t think I could’ve fathomed needing any more than 16 oz—which is still a lot of fries—and yet, it was interesting to see the brave fair-goers toting around their souvenir buckets.
Hailey: This was perhaps the most-anticipated food on my list because back in 2018, I gave up french fries as part of a New Year’s resolution. I made it over a year and a half without eating a single french fry, so when I finally had the chance to reward myself for sticking to my fitness challenge, I couldn’t wait to score a cup at the fair. Needless to say, it was 100% worth the wait!
FOOD #3: Grilled Peach with Greek Yogurt and Pie Crust Crumble
Hannah: The fresh produce stand was a welcomed change from all the fried food, and I think my body was grateful for the nutritional 180-degree shift. Although the peach could’ve been a little sweeter after being grilled, the Greek yogurt to me was such a tangy and terrific complement to the dish with a sweet crunch added by the pie crust.
Hailey: I couldn’t agree more with Hannah: taking a break from the traditional fried fair food with this grilled fresh produce dish was a good call on our part. It was my first time eating a grilled peach and Greek yogurt, and although I wasn’t a die-hard fan for either—for me, the peach wasn’t sweet nor flavorful enough and the yogurt was too bitter—I was glad I tried yet another dish I likely wouldn’t have otherwise.
FOOD #4: Tiny Tim Donuts
Hannah: Because this was only my third time at the State Fair (once with friends last year and a week prior with my parents who were first-timers), I had never had Tiny Tim Donuts before. Hot from the fryer and covered in sugar, they were the perfect bite-sized confection to enjoy while people watching throughout the day.
Hailey: When Hannah told me she’d never had Tiny Tim Donuts before, I knew I had to snatch us a bag. Luckily for us, there was a stand nearby where we decided to pop a squat and sit for a little bit. I was handed a bag filled with yummy donies so piping hot that I thought I’d drop them on my way back to our bench. We both had about nine bites each, which was the perfect amount for our sugar craving as we took in the scene of peeps traversing the fairgrounds.
FOOD #5: Sweet Martha’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
Hannah: These cookies are so worth the hype! In my three times at the fair, I’ve had to make a pit-stop there. However, I did exhibit self-control and stop myself from shelling out $17 for a bucket because even though I knew I could eat them all, I knew that I shouldn’t. I opted for a large cone which still was about 10-12 cookies and that more than satisfied my sweet tooth.
Hailey: I probably won’t be the first person to say this, but there’s just something about Sweet Martha’s Cookies that make me feel at home. Maybe it’s because I grew up munching on my mom’s famous chocolate chip cookies, or maybe it’s because the fairgrounds itself is about a half-hour drive from my own home (which I missed a lot that day). Either way, I, too, debated forking over $17 for the classic bucket—which I’ve happily eaten in its entirety in the past and dealt with a well-deserved bellyache after—but my self-control kicked in right when I needed it to. The large cone was a great compromise, and we both appreciated the treat after waiting until the very end of our trip. (P.S. Hey, Martha, you should totally hire me as a hand model for your goodies!)
FOOD #6: Fresh Shaken Lemonade
Hannah: Now I know this technically isn’t a food, but this is something Hailey and I partook in while at the fair. For some reason, it was the perfect pairing after my chocolate chip cookies. As the final item from our trip, it helped me pucker up and kiss the State Fair goodbye for a second year.
Hailey: Lemonade couldn’t have been the better choice to wash down our delicious cookies. I was feeling pretty parched, too, so when I had the chance to sip on these tasty suds, let’s just say I had a minor Beyoncé moment with how refreshed I felt after.
Hannah: Although the day started a bit rainy, I had a really good time with Hailey at the fair. We spent time people-watching, sitting in on equestrian events (not complete without seeing some cute cowboys as well), visiting the birth center, etc. I think knowing we were going to write an article about the fair together also made it more fun because I wanted to observe as much as I could to form a good piece of content. It truly was the Great Minnesota Get-Together because somehow with all the crowds, I managed to spot my longtime best friend Jess, which was the icing on top of a pretty sweet day. Even though I’m not originally from Minnesota, I do feel the camaraderie among the crowds of like-minded people who come out to enjoy good times, good food, and good company. It has and will continue to keep me coming back for more.
Hailey: I’d been itching to go to the State Fair for many years, so I was super grateful that Winona State’s UPAC put together a bus trip. The fact that we were there for nearly 10 hours seemed daunting at first, but Hannah and I eventually took the time to slow down and check out places we’d normally zoom past. I couldn’t remember the last time I watched an equestrian show (and said yee-haw at the sight of such a handsome cowboy) or stepped in a massive cow turd outside the Miracle of Birth Center. In past years, I was so focused on stuffing my face with food that I often forgot just how cool the other buildings were. We also could have easily let the rainy weather get the best of us since it was the last thing we expected, but instead we chose to embrace our journalist task at hand and bought matching yellow UMN ponchos (which, BTW, we slayed). It was a great experience that I was so lucky to share with Hannah, and I hope to go again next year to conclude my journey as a college student!