It's a Great State Fair!

Our State Fair - 2017 (dwm photo)
Like any family tradition, there are some things you do because you always do them.  Then again, there is always time to try something new.

Perhaps our most enduring tradition is the Wisconsin State Fair.

The first thing we always do is visit the Horticultural Building. Not anymore.  It's the same structure in the same place, but it is now called the Grand Champions Hall.

Prize winning tomatoes. (dwm)
Once upon a time it was exclusively flowers.  Baked goods, quilts, and photographs entered the mix over the years - but our day at the fair doesn't start until 9 a.m. when its doors open.

I appreciate the flowers and vegetables, but I can't tell what the difference is between one winning a Blue Ribbon instead of Red. The judges can, I'm sure.

The family Fair touchstone. (dwm)
A more recent tradition after the Flower Building is checking in at the Central Park Fountain.

In 2011, for my folks' anniversary, we bought them a brick.

This year, we joined them a few feet away.

A State Fair and family tradition is eating a Cream Puff.  It's our mid-morning fair snack.

Made fresh from scratch daily in the Cream Puff building, they sell an average of 350,000 Puffs each year during the 11 days of State Fair.  Frankly, the number seems low, considering nearly 1,000,000 people attend each year.

A very Fair breakfast.
Just one and a half for me this year.  That's 50% more than usual.  I hate to think how much I might weigh if State Fair Cream Puffs were available daily.

On the way to order, you look through windows at the workers.  Its cold because of the cream and even on the hottest days, the workers bundle up like Nanook of the North.

Nephew & niece dive into the
family tradition.  (dwm)
The day of my visit was one of the coolest days I remember at the Fair.  A very comfortable 65 degrees made jeans and a hooded sweatshirt perfect Fair-wear.

Visiting the animal barns isn't one of our traditions, I think the boys were pretty young the last time we did.  So this year, I checked out an aisle or two in several barns.

Is this bunny#1? (dwm)
The cows are impressive.  Almost as impressive as the families who raise and get them ready for the fair.

In the fair's early days, competitions to see who had the best cow, best crop, and who made the best pie were fun and advanced the craft.  That on-going quest is one of our country's oldest traditions.

Our family group always takes in the Kids From Wisconsin show.  They perform every day.  They hail from every corner of the state after winning auditions for a place on stage.  This year's show includes a music travelogue with hit songs from Chicago, Cleveland, Nashville, New Orleans, and Las Vegas.  I'd say it's one of their best.

Alex Clark working the crowd. (dwm)
Although I might think that nearly every year.

New to me was a young comedian/juggler.  He was setting up a microphone and speakers while individually asking passers-by to stop and stay for the show.  I did.

I thought I slipped behind some members of the crowd, but when I got out my camera - he saw me and quickly got on the ground for my camera for a "beach pose."  Its Alex Clark.  He is funny and an entertaining juggler.  Fast with a quip as fiery torches whizzed around his head.

A fair-ly new tradition
the Sky Glider (dwm)
You never know what you're gonna see at the Fair.

The Sky Glider is "new," which in my universe means it's probably been around a good 20 years now.

I remember when it first appeared at State Fair Park and the idea of gliding over the big crowds near the Grandstand instead of fighting through them to get from one place to another seemed cool and magical.

It is still a good way to get off your feet for five or ten minutes and enjoy a bird's eye view of the places you want to visit before the day at the fair ends all too soon.

The Giant Slide is 50! (dwm)
I wasn't yet 4 when the Giant Slide made its State Fair debut.  While seeing it that first year doesn't ring a bell; I remember looking up at this towering over-sized piece of playground equipment while holding my dad's hand.  It's 50 now.

It took a few years before I tried it.  It cost a quarter then.  A worker gave you a burlap sack which you carried to the top, moved it into place as directed, then sat before getting pushed off and down.  There were four microphones hanging over the slide to capture screams and giggles.

The mikes are gone and this year, so were the burlap bags - replaced with a multi-fiber mat which seemed a lot faster than those old ones.  It was as much fun as you can have in 5 seconds at the Fair.

The WonderWheel!  (dwm)
2017 is year #1 for what the officials dub the WonderWheel.

It's 15 stories tall, casting a big shadow across the grounds.  It deserves its own blog, so come back tomorrow for that.

On the other end of the spectrum is another fair event which has caught our family's attention through the years - the draft horse hitch class.

Clydesdale horses at work. (dwm)
The Belgian, Percheron, and Clydesdale are royalty when it comes to working horses.  I'm looking forward to writing another bonus blog this week - look for it Wednesday.

All this and I didn't leave space to write about the Milk House, Smoky Bear, Baked Potato, or Elephant Ear.

Just like those Cream Puffs - there are more than I can handle. You might start our own Fair tradition - it runs through August 13.