Totally Doin’ It with Art and Emily: State Fair: The Great Minnesota Get-Together

This year’s Minnesota State Fair is less than two months away, and we’ve started our Fair preparations with State Fair: The Great Minnesota Get-Together, a collection of photographs by Susan Lambert Miller.

State Fair

Art’s Part

Ok, so why not just go on Flickr and look at pictures of the State Fair? I mean, there are over 12,000 of them. Why should you buy a book of pictures?

Well, let me tell you something. This is a coffee table book. As it’s just like Stephen Colbert said: when you’re moving, you can’t wrap your dishes in a blog. And you can’t set Flickr on your coffee table. Seriously, your coffee table needs this book. I’ll go so far as to say your coffee table is ugly without this book. UGLY.

So, let me tell you about this book. First, the puns. Oh, the puns. A two or three word caption is associated with each picture, and many of them are great puns. My favorite caption in the whole book is for the first picture, on page two. (See? Now you have to pick the book up to see it. Unless you’re a total asshole and just look it up Amazon.)

Ok, so maybe you’re one of these people I’ve heard about who isn’t totally into puns (I know! I didn’t believe it either). But you’re on the internet, so that means you love a good lol. This book (which sits on your coffee table, remember) also has a fair share of genuinely-lol lols. Also, there are some creepy (read: hilarious) chickens as pets/chickens as food and pigs as pets/pigs as food juxtapositions.

Oh yeah, and the pictures are all top-notch.

So, I swear to you, this book will make your ugly coffee table beautiful and it will make the ugly coffee table you think is beautiful actually beautiful. Anecdotal evidence: I don’t even have a coffee table and my sister picked it up and flipped through it when she came over one time.

Emily’s Part

I’m not sure how qualified I am to write about this book. After all, I’m not from here, I’ve only been to the Minnesota State Fair once, and I’ve never even been to the fair in my home state of Wisconsin. (Despite its world famous cream puffs, Wisconsinites seem to prefer Summerfest over their state fair. And while the Summerfest experience is more focused on music than food, both events feature large crowds of women in tube tops they probably shouldn’t be wearing, so let’s try to focus on our similarities rather than our differences, okay?)

Anyway, during my first summer here, I didn’t understand what all the fuss was about or why all of my coworkers were asking me whether I’d “been to the fair yet” as if it was a given that I was attending. Because I was most certainly not.

I did make it last year, though I was still a little freaked out by the whole thing. My trepidation even made me express disgust toward bacon, which is totally unlike me.

And while I definitely had a nice day at the fair (other than the fact that the fat content of the food I ate made me want to die later that night), I don’t think I’ll ever really understand or identify with the fair the way native Minnesotans do. I think it’s one of those things you have to grow up with, something you have to do every year for the better part of your childhood, to fully embrace. No amount of Pronto Pups is going to change that.

That being said, I really liked this book. I thought Susan Lambert Miller did a great job of capturing the many sides of the fair, from livestock (cute little piglets!) to food (mmm . . . corn on the cob!) to rides (vomit!) to the just plain bizarre (busts sculpted from butter?) and juxtaposes the images in a way that highlights just how weird the fair really is.

If nothing else, I’d highly recommend the book to first time fairgoers who need a preview of what they’re getting themselves into.

Oh, and there are also puns. But I’m sure the “Punsultant” has already filled you in.

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