Wednesday, August 29, 2001

My favorite part of the trip was going to the Minnesota State Fair. I thought the husband would be fascinated by the American hyperbole of it. You know, the fattest sow, the biggest pumpkin, the tastiest milkshake. Unfortunately it was too much for him. He was in shock, the poor guy. It could have been the 175,000 Minnesotans crammed into the fairgrounds. Or the corndogs, the scotch-eggs-on-a-stick, or the deep-fried candy bars (it's true!). Or maybe it was the fashion show sheep competition (4H teens in the sweltering heat, dressed in wool jumpers, blazers, top hats - you name it - leading newly shorn and bleating sheep wearing ribbons and collars and bowties to match the jumpers, blazers and top hats, parading stolidly or with embarrassment around the straw-filled and manure-strewn catwalk to the eager and earnest sound of the announcer saying, ''...the 100-percent merino wool skirt Shawna is wearing is made from the Gustafsson family's favorite ram, Stiffy, and has been hand-dyed to copy an authentic Navaho pattern from a vase Shawna's Aunt Lena got at South of the Border on her way down to Daytona for a well-earned vacation after she divorced her second husband, Ollie.''

My husband did perk up when we got to the dairy pavilion and saw the butter sculptures of Princess Kay of the Milky Way and the 11 runners up in the Princess Kay of the Milky Way contest. You can actually watch the sculptor in her revolving refrigerated glass cylinder as she attacks a 90-pound slab of butter, over the 10 days of the fair carving life-sized busts of Princess Kay and the runners up. The Princess and runners up each get to keep their sculptures when the fair is over!

The Swedish phrase for the day is: hem ljuva hem. It means home, sweet home. - by Francis S.

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