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Thursday, August 18, 2011

This & That: Summertime Fun: The State Fair

Summer never seemed complete when I was a kid, without a visit to the State Fair. My parents used to take us pretty much every year. The Wisconsin State Fair has been held in West Allis, a suburb of Milwaukee, ever since I can remember. From 2002 until 2006  I lived in a house right across the street from the fairgrounds. It was always very interesting around my neighborhood during Fair time.

When I was a kid, going to the Fair was an all day outing because we lived in a rural area that was almost an hour's drive from Milwaukee. We always had to visit the animal barns (always a favorite!) and we always had to have a cream puff.  I still try to make it to the Fair at least once every year; this year I went twice. The first time was to see Erik's band (this was their first State Fair gig; it was very exciting) and the second time Erik and I went on a Friday evening just to hang out and, of course, stuff ourselves with Fair food.

The evening was very pleasant, if cloudy. We did have a little rain later on for a short time.

One of our first stops was at Water Street Brewery; it's a popular local restaurant and microbrewery. Right next to this building they have a bar area and stage for music, which is where Erik's band had played three days earlier.

We went there because they have on their menu a Scotch Egg on a stick!!! If you've never had one; they are delicious! It's basically a hard-boiled egg, encased in pork sausage and some sort of breading, then deep fried or baked. They serve theirs with a spicy mustard sauce too. Yum!

Then we went to the critter barns to look at some goats;

Goats are so funny!

We looked at the piggies too; many of them were tuckered out and sleeping. I always think of the book "Charlotte's Web" when I go to the Fair and wander through the pig barn. That's definitely "Some Pig!"

Llamas are really quite big animals!

   Awwww! These were some young calves that were born this last year. I think the one on the right is a Brown Swiss. Both of my parents grew up on a farm and the area I grew up in was rural and mostly dairy farms, but I didn't know anybody that kept Jerseys or Brown Swiss....they have such sweet faces though!

    Holsteins and Guernseys are the kind you see most often in rural Wisconsin. Holsteins, like this one, are actually quite large animals.

Fittingly, right outside the Dairy Barn is the Herb Kohl Milk House. There is always a huge line here because it is very popular; you can get five different flavors of milk here for 25 cents per glass. The flavors are Banana, Strawberry, Cherry Vanilla, Chocolate and Root Beer. Visiting the Milk Barn is one of the quintessential activities at the State Fair.

Erik and I both had two glasses each; we each had one Chocolate and one Strawberry. Erik had to help me finish mine, though. (I am lactose intolerant and even though I looooove fresh milk, I can only handle so much, even with the help of some Lact-Aid!!!  Oh, the irony! A girl born and raised in the Dairy State, who's lactose-intolerant!  ha-ha!)

At this point, it started to rain a little, so we ducked into the Poultry Barn, where they have fancy chickens:

Yes, that's a chicken.

So is this! (It looks like a small poofy dog, doesn't it?)

They also have bunnies in this barn:

So cute! He looks very plushy.

And they have very fancy pigeons too:

This one was very happy to pose for me; he seemed to know I wanted a picture. I think these are called Fantails.

When I was a young girl my Great-Grandfather Boleslaus lived for awhile with my grandma and grandpa on their farm before he went into a retirement home. They no longer kept animals by this time, but he had a coop of pigeons that he kept. They were homing pigeons, none of them were fancy like these, but I remember his favorite was a pure white one he called 'Snowball'. He used to show us kids the pigeons when we would come to visit. I don't know what became of his pigeons when he left the farm; perhaps he sold them. He was from Poland and had emigrated to America when he was about twenty years old or so. We used to drive to Milwaukee to the retirement home to visit with him there too. He passed away when I nineteen.

After the milk and looking at chickens, it was time to visit the Agricultural Building. Here there are many booths that sell goodies and products from local Wisconsin farms, like honey, maple syrup and of course, dairy items and cheese! We stopped here to have a grilled cheese sandwich.Mmmm.! Look at all those sandwiches!

The Scotch Egg, milk and grilled cheese sandwich wasn't enough for Erik; we stopped for awhile at one of the pubs with a music stage to listen to a band, have a drink and so Erik could have a burger. This burger was called the Cheesehead Burger; it has Mac n' Cheese Bites on top of the burger.

I always have to have a corn dog when I go to the Fair; I can't possibly go to the Fair and not have a corn dog! I ate my corn dog earlier (after the Scoth Egg, but before the milk!) so I could save room for a cream puff!

The Cream Puff Emporium is one big building devoted just to making the cream puffs; they are famous! They have these nifty glass windows so you can watch the workers  while you wait in line. They probably have a half a dozen workers, mostly high school and college age kids, at each station. This stations is where they are slicing the shells. They really have fun in there; they always have music playing in there and everyone is always dancing around and having fun.

In the next room is where the fillers are. It's very cool in this area because of the giant vats of cream filling. The cream is dispensed automatically from a machine into their pastry bags, so you don't have to give yourself carpal tunnel syndrome squeezing the bags to get the cream out.

After they are sprinkled with powdered sugar, they are placed on these big wheeled racks for the servers at the counter. There are dozens and dozens of these racks all lined up in the coolers.

      Erik and I each had one cream puff, although you can buy "6 packs" or "8 packs" in to-go containers to take home with you if you like. Also while the Fair is going on, you can get cream puffs at the "drive through" at one of the fairgrounds entry gates. In the mornings between 7am and 9am you can drive up to the Fair gate where they have a huge refrigerated trailer of cream puffs and you can pick up cream puffs for your co-workers at the office or your morning sales meeting and be a total hero!

Thanks for joining me! I hope that you are having a wonderful summer as well!


victorian parlor II said...

Wow! It looks like it was a lot of fun! Thanks for sharing:).



Pam of Eastlake Victorian said...

So many people I know love going to the Wisconsin State Fair, but I've never been! It looks like so much fun. I would have one of those cream puffs...YUM! Maybe next year we'll try to make it. :-)