The Minnesota State Fair begins this weekend, and once again has a ton to offer in terms of local foodie and educational opportunities. Eat local food while watching local chefs cook with local ingredients, and learn more about how Minnesotans can reduce our impact on the environment through our diets and lifestyles. Here’s a list of events and food items that can give your 2012 fair experience a greener twist:
Attend Minnesota Cooks
In its 10th year, Minnesota Cooks takes place this Sunday, August 26. It’s an annual food event featuring local farmers, local food, and local chefs. The program, which runs 9 a.m.-5 p.m., is broken into hour-long segments. Each hour, two local chefs are paired with a local farmer and local ingredients. Stop by Carousel Park to watch and learn more about food made in our state. The day’s schedule:
- 9 a.m. Maty Lahammer (TPT) starts the day off with a discussion about sustainability in Minnesota.
- 10 a.m. Mike Phillips (Three Sons Meat Co.) will prepare salami bread salad using pasture-raised pork from Lori Brinkman of Elm Brink Farm. Justin Kaderlik (Bethel University) will prepare grilled Gilbertson’s Farms sweet corn, Caves of Faribault Amablu, and caramelized Beacon apple vol-au-vent, with smoked red chile oil and a ten-year tawny port reduction.
- 11 a.m. Montana Rasmussen (River Rock Coffee) will prepare summer heirloom tomato salad and lemonade featuring basil three ways using heirloom tomatoes from Adam Ellefson and Lupita Marchan at Living Land Farm. JD Fratzke (The Strip Club Meat & Fish) will prepare Thousand Hills Cattle Company grilled hanger steak with white cheddar gougeres and heirloom cherry tomatoes in chive and basil pesto featuring beef from Todd Churchill at Thousand Hills Cattle Company.
- Noon: Alex Roberts (Brasa Premium Rotisserie) will prepare sweet corn chowder with corn bread and Lake Superior smoked whitefish featuring flour from Gary and Sharon Thelen at Swany White Flour Mills. Padam Sharma and Arun Pokarhel (Everest on Grand) will prepare yak chhoyla featuring yak from John Hooper at Hoopers’ Yak Ranch.
- 1 p.m. Lenny Russo (Heartland Restaurant & Farm Direct Market) will prepare bison tartare featuring bison from Mike Fogel and Valerie Shannon of Buffalo Gal. Russel Klein (Meritage) will prepare a duet of chilled soups: heirloom tomato with lime and cucumber with yogurt and dill featuring produce from Greg Reynolds of Riverbend Farm.
- 2 p.m. Scott Graden (New Scenic Café) will prepare fresh herring and prosciutto tacos with tomato, avocado, and frisee featuring herring from Stephen Dahl, Fisherman. Nathalie Johnson (Minnesota Historic Wine Tours) will prepare Minnesota prairie wine vinaigrette featuring wine from Karin and Aric Koenen at Hinterland Vineyards.
- 3 p.m. Erica Strait (Foxy Falafel) will prepare a sabich sandwich (fried eggplant and hard boiled duck eggs with hummus and seasoned cabbage) with amba sauce and pickled pappadew peppers featuring produce and duck eggs from Molly McNeil at Minnesota Peach. Paul Berglund (The Bachelor Farmer) will prepare Bachelor Farmer summer harvest salad, soft-boiled farm egg with The Bachelor Farmer Rooftop Herbs featuring produce from Dayna Burtness of Laughing Loon Farm.
- 4 p.m. Afternoon emcee, JD Fratzke of The Strip Club Meat & Fish, will lead a sustainability discussion with Doug Peterson, president of Minnesota Farmers Union. Noah Hoehn will wrap up the day with another lively performance featuring marimba, harmonica, percussion, and vocals.
Photo Provided by the Minnesota State Fair
Stop by the Eco Experience Project
The Eco-Experience at the fair inspires people to lead more sustainable lives while improving quality of life and the environment. New to the Eco Experience for 2012, you can see a wall made of 15,000 single-use water bottles (they say this is the number sold in Minnesota every five minutes). The new green building section will show you how to prevent those nasty winter ice dams on your roof, once and for all. And check the Sustainability Stage schedule for daily events including presentations on recycled fashion, composting, and solar basics.
Visit the Minnesota Grown Booth
The Minnesota Grown booth educates fair-goers about the diversity of Minnesota products and where we can find them. Located in the Ag/Hort Building.
Photo provided by The Minnesota State Fair
Sample Some Minnesotan Food
- (New!) Lamb Chop On a Stick: Grass-fed lamb loin chops served on a stick at the Lamb Shoppe
- (New!) Walleye Sandwich: Fresh walleye, served chilled “New England-style” with Minnesota wild rice and minced celery, then dusted with a spice blend and served on a butter-toasted brioche bun—at Giggle’s Campfire Grill.
- (New!) Antipasto Plate with Minnesota bison sausage, assorted cheeses, roasted peppers and sliced baguettes—at Minnesota Wine Country
- Sweet corn ice cream made with MN-grown sweet corn—at Blue Moon Dine-In Theatre
- MN microbrew beer flights at the MN Craft Brewers Guild
- Try a Minnesota-made bottled soda pop made with cane sugar featuring flavors—strawberry, orange, grape, root beer, cream soda, lemon sour, black cherry, and creamy orange—at Spring Grove Soda
- A Minnesota beef burger at the Blue Moon Dine-In Theatre
- Yankee Apple Pie Chocolate Sandwich: Minnesota-grown apples sautéed with spices, topped with chocolate and grilled in Brioche bread—at Moe and Joes Coffee
- Wild rice burgers, wild rice sausage, waffle fries, and wild rice corndogs at Minnesota Wild Rice Specialties
- Minnesota wild rice sausages with beef or pork and jalapeno cheese at Sausage by Cynthia
- Jams and jellies, maple syrup, maple syrup candy, American Indian fry bread mix, wild rice, wild rice pancake mix, wild rice soup mix, and Native American herbal tea at Birchberry
- Buffalo kabobs at Minnekabob
- Minnesota wine and ice cream made with Minnesota wine at MN Wine Country
- Bison jerky and meat sticks from the MN Buffalo Association
- Minnesota wine at the French Creperie
- Elk jerky, elk snack sticks and elk summer sausage from MN Elk Breeders
- Minnesota apples, apple cider, apple sauce, and frozen cider pop from MN Apples
- Honey (liquid, spun, creamed, comb, whipped) in glass and plastic containers, honey jams, honey jellies, honey candy, cookies, ice cream, honey nut fudge ice cream, and honey nut frozen yogurt from MN Honey Producers Association
- Corn on the cob from Untiedt’s Vegetable Farm in MN
Consider Public Transportation
State Fair Express buses operate from 17 Twin Cities locations. For automated State Fair transit information, call 612-341-4287. Express buses drop off and pick up across from the Como Loop (Gate #9) and at the West Red Pedestrian Bridge (Gate #20) on the south side of Como Ave.
A great bike map shows the location of the State Fair bike corrals and recommends routes.