To be a nice netizen, instead of putting the huge file on a bunch of differnet sites, I am going to merely link to it:
The amazing thing to me was the size. The grounds are huge, and the vendors all have permanent spots, with restaurant-like structures and signage. An old man told me the fairgrounds is used for little else throughout the year, maybe a car show or two and that's it. And to get a spot you kinda have to wait for someone to die. Which is exactly what happened to your Penny Arcade. That guy got old, didn't pay a few bills and was out!
We were there on the last Friday evening and Saturday of the run last year (Labor Day weekend). The Satuday we were there the attendance was 210,000 people and I'm not kidding. I've never seen such a crowd anywhere. But all very well behaved, we didn't see a speck of trouble. And alchohol served, too, with many open-to-the-street bars in the colonnade style buildings. Try that in Ohio!
I enjoyed the independent midway, the ride lineup you describe seems about the same as when I went, and is second only, IMO, to Florida's indy midway. I was surprised to see as many permanent rides on the grounds, too. In addition to the Skyride and Sky Glider they had a Space Spiral, a river raft ride, and a haunted house. But I saw no mention in your article of the Ye Old Mill, one of the last surviving Old Mills in the country. The guys that own it saw us in our Ohio State Fair polo shirts (we are exhibitors and vendors here) and asked us if we'd like a behind the scenes tour. Ya, you betcha! We saw the canals from inside, the motor and paddlewheel from behind, heard lots of stories, and it was a treat I'll always remember. It's a great nostalgic ride, too, we had a blast there.
I've never eaten so much in my life. The deep fried turkey sandwiches at the Poultry stand were out of this world. I had a bucket of Sweet Martha's and a gallon of milk. We ate our first order of cheese curds while waiting in line for our second order. And who can resist oofda treat or hotdish on a stick? (I'm still not sure what those things are, but yummy anyway!)
The guys in Minnesota got it right. Everyone goes, everyone pays nine bucks, (no freebies or comps), and everyone contributes to one of the busiest, most profitable, and finest fairs in the country.
Thanks again for your report. I felt like I was there again! I know I'll return one day.
Thanks for your reply. I have been to the MNSF 3 other times. I took a ride on Ye Olde Mill in 2002, and while I appreicate the nostalgia and historical value of the ride, I wasn't that impressed with the ride itself.
You can read about MNSF in my 2002 TR of the Fair.
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