Yesterday was our first full day back in the U.S., and our first full day back in Wisconsin since Christmastime 2017. It also happened to be the first day of the Wisconsin State Fair, so naturally, we had to go.
I have fond memories of the fair from my childhood. My brother and I insisting on visiting all the animal barns, riding the giant yellow slide, eating our way through Wisconsin’s food products, drinking flavored milk, and wandering through the expo to see all the latest “cool” gadgets. It’s been several years since I was home for the fair, and it was interesting to see it again through the lens of adult eyes. Sean had also never attended the fair before yesterday, so I enjoyed watching him experience everything for the first time.
Some things haven’t changed. I still appreciated wandering through the livestock barns even though doing so brought on intense allergies as always. The milk barn is still pumping out unique milk flavors every year, including Root Beer, mint, and chocolate peanut butter. I went with my favorite, strawberry, and enjoyed my first glass of milk in several years. I’m from the dairy state, so, naturally, I’m a bit of a dairy snob, and Maryland milk just doesn’t do it for me. And don’t even get me started on milk overseas. What the hell is going on here, guys?!
There have been some noticeable improvements to the fair. For one, the yellow slide. Now instead of scratchy burlap, they give you large pieces of felt to slide down on. I also remember it being much more massive but perhaps that’s just part of growing up. The pig races are still entertaining, though they seem much more structured than I remember. Also, the food at the fair has really evolved. It seems to have become a tradition to try to make the weirdest deep-fried food imaginable. A few years ago they did deep-fried butter, and I thought things couldn’t possibly get worse. Oh no. This year a featured food was deep-fried milk. I don’t even want to attempt to fathom how they make this atrocity, nor do I want to imagine how it would taste.
Wisconsin also has an extensive repertoire of food served on a stick. Salad, corn dogs, cheese curds, olives, sangria, just to name a few. If you can imagine it, it probably exists. We only sampled the cookie dough on a stick, and while delicious, it was way too much for even two people.
The other funny part of revisiting the fair after all these years was going through the expo. As children, I remember being blown away by the innovative things for sale by thousands of vendors. As adults, my brother and I laughed at the “as seen on TV” level of nonsense at most of the booths, and also enjoyed the “what’s what of stuff our parents have bought and sent us over the years.” We had a good laugh.
Revisiting the fair was one of the best ways to reacclimate to Wisconsin. It reminded me why I loved growing up in this state, and how it will always be home, no matter how far away we may travel.