Birdchick's Guide to MN State Fair

I've already been to the state State Fair twice this year. Last night I did something I never thought I would ever do in a million years. One of our friends is a caterer for touring rock bands and she's currently doing the Motley Crue tour so a group of us got free tickets and backstage passes at the State Fair Grandstand. I'm really grateful the concert was this time of year and not during spring migration when I'm trying to pick out warbler songs because I seriously doubt I will be able to hear a parula for at least a week. During the concert the band kept telling us to make some noise and I thought of all the times I have heard owls at the state fair grand stand when it's abandon in the winter so in their honor I hooted barred and great horned owl calls every time we were prompted to "make some noise". This is something I will never need to do again, but I have to say that there was something exciting in watching the boys put forth all their efforts into entertaining the crowd and literally feeling their music penetrate your body and rumble your lungs.

But their are lots of things to do at the State Fair that are not so hardcore and even bird related so here are some of my picks.

DNR Building

Last Chance Forever has shows going on with live birds of prey. I fondly remember walking to a restroom in the area and having a Harris Hawk fly over my head as I worked my way through the crowd. Some of the show's content gets a little too touchy feely for my taste, but it's easily overlooked when you see these cool birds flying around.

The Raptor Center has a booth in the building with their education birds and are happy to answer questions about Minnesota birds of prey. The birds are not flying but you can get fairly close to get some good photos. TRC is also open on the St. Paul Campus for those walking by. The upside is that the restrooms are open and it's air conditioned so if you need a break it's a great place to hang out.

The Minnesota Ornithologists' Union
has a booth with a huge sign begging the crowd to "Ask Us About Birds". A great place to visit and ask everything you ever wanted to know about birds but were afraid to ask. I'll be working there Tuesday, August 30 from 9am - 1pm so if you're in the area, stop by and say hello.

Poultry Barn

The first weekend at the state fair is a rabbit exhibit in the Poultry Barn. If you have the time, head to the 4-H Barn to see the bunny agility tests. The bunny show is only during the first weekend at the state fair in the Poultry Building. If you are unable to make it, you can view a video of the bunny agility tests, when you click on the above link there's a column of related content and a video you watch of the rabbits going through their courses. And for those interested, Cinnamon greatly disapproves of bunny agility tests.

During the second weekend of the State Fair you can see every type of barn yard fowl available from the expected chickens and ducks to the unexpected turkens. If you've never seen a Cayuga Indian Runner, this is one of your few chances.

Education Building

Audubon Minnesota
has a booth in the Education and is has tips on all sorts of things you can do for birds. All Seasons Wild Bird Store set up a display on the booth of items you can place in your yard that are very bird friendly and squirrel and raccoon unfriendly.

Crop Art
I love the seed art that is found at the Ag-Hort-Bee Building. There are professionals who make stunning portraits from bird seed (right) to the beginners who make portraits from seed of their favorite stars. My personal favorite is the Jackie Chan (photo at the top of the blog entry) crop art that showed up two years ago. If you can't make it, here's a taste of what you're missing.

New Fair Food I'm Planning to Try:
Spaghetti and Meatballs on a Stick
Chocolate-dipped Potato Chips
Chocolate-covered Sunflower Seeds

Foods That Always Never Disappoint Me:
Porkchop on a Stick
Cheese Curds
Fair Fries with Malt Vinegar
Elephant Ear
Roasted Corn Cob

Foods That Seem Like a Good Idea at the Time but Haunt You Later:
Scotch Egg on a Stick (I love it, but it doesn't love me)
Cream Puffs (excess dairy on a hot day is not a good idea)

Foods That Disappoint
Deep Fried Twinkie on a Stick (overly sweet and greasy)
Deep Fried Snickers on a Stick (hot, greasy, mushy chocolate--not as exciting as it sounds)
Teriyaki Ostrich on a Stick (I'm not opposed to eating birds, but this reminds me of mystery meat that they served in middle schools)