Yesterday was HUMP DAY for the Fair... five in the rear view mirror and five up a-yonder. And as is the tradition in the James (pronounced "Hahm-ez" in Columbia) family, My-Sugar-Na and I made our trek to do some damage during Crazy Grazin' Day.
'Twas a beautiful day for a stroll with temps in the mid-70s. Funny thing is, though, that the temp seemed even warmer in the sun. But shade (and seats) were prevalent, and the air conditioned buildings were actually able to keep up, so there wasn't any problems.
(Side note before we go too much further; we bought our tickets on a promo from Fast Track, and the package included the Bargain Book that you normally have to pay for. Since it looks like yesterday would be my only day in attendance in 2014, what was normally a "Crazy Grazin' Only" day became a hybrid of Crazy Grazin' and the coupon book.)
Because I had tickets to last night's Brewers game, we hit the Fair much earlier in the day compared to past years. That allowed us to find street parking right in front of the "old" house (Side note to the new owners; you put up that lovely - but stupid - fence around the back yard and have cost yourselves at least five parking spots. I also know that the neighbors aren't THAT bad since the Lord of the Neighborhood has also sold his house. What were you thinking?) Right around 10:00 AM we hit the southwest gate and my first thought was the Fried PB&J... you know, breakfast.
But that lovely bride of mine... sigh... said that we had a coupon in the book for a free USB-to-car-cigarette-lighter-adapter from the US Cellular booth inside the Expo Center. "Fine", said I, "PB & J would follow shortly, right?" Alas, no, as my wife found that some of the Crazy Grazin' treats on her list were also in the Expo Center. So with (Sponsor's Name Here) getting hangrier by the minute, we begin eating our way through the Fair...
(Final Side note before we get started; the rating system, which is the Modified Baby Beres' Mom Rating System - or MBBMRS for short - is as follows...)
PURPLE w/ FUCHSIA POLKA DOTS - Can't miss
GREEN - Don't miss
CHARTREUSE - Worth the effort if you are in the neighborhood
YELLOW - Not without its charms, but don't suck the tailpipe if you miss it
RED - You might have been better off sucking the tailpipe
As we trek through the Expo Center to find the first foodage of the day, I decided that strollers, wheelchairs, scooters, walkers and wagons should NOT be allowed on the Fairgrounds. For my very politically incorrect views on the subject, send me an E-mail. But c'mon everyone, face it... you hate them too (unless, of course, you insist on taking little Montana, Dakota and New Jersey through the Expo Center in which THEY DO NOT CARE TO BE IN, then by all means, have at my ankles as well as backing up the 48 people behind you that are just trying to look at the pots and pans demonstration)
- Apple dumpling from Aggie's Cakes and Pastries ($2.00) - For the first food of the day, it could have been a cinderblock with icing on it. I would have preferred room temperature so that the pastry itself could be a star rather than being served at refrigerator temperature, but the filling was good. It was nice, but not spectacular. RATING - YELLOW.
- Chocolate covered licorice from Ultimate Confections (4 pieces for $1.00) - This is a favorite of My-Sugar-Na (who is way more into sweets than I am). Last year, I wrote "She said 'It was amazing (with an eye roll)'." This year, she rated it one thumb up, then later a second one. Sounds like a downgrade to me. RATING - GREEN.
Then we finally left scooter land and headed for... outside scooter land. Sigh. A trend.
Carrying on, I finally get to eat!
- Reuben brat from Slim McGinn's West ($4.50) - The brat tasted like a reuben (which is a good thing) and it was nestled on a pretzel bun and topped with sauerkraut. However, the sauerkraut was right out of the refrigerator, and I was never offered a horseradish or Thousand Island dipping sauce. A shame, really, as this could have been sooooo good. RATING - CHARTREUSE, but you can rate it higher if your condiments are offered.
- Deep fried peanut butter and jelly on a stick from the Machine Shed ($2.50) - The price was actually lower than last year. Granted, the portion could have been a little smaller than last year, but this is upgraded because of the lower price. This is a yearly favorite of mine and an absolute must-hit every year. RATING - PURPLE w/ FUCHSIA POLKA DOTS.
- Quesadilla from Burrito Xpress ($3.50) - Hard to mess up a grilled cheese sandwich that uses tortillas instead of Wonder bread, and they didn't. But Burrito Xpress didn't improve on it, either. RATING - YELLOW.
While eating in courtyard of the World Cafe, we walked in just as some of the Kids from Wisconsin finished up. Impeccable timing we had.
Needing to walk off some of the Grazin' goodness, we walked through the barns of the unprocessed bacon and ribs, steaks and chicken wings as we headed east through the Fairgrounds.
- Barbecue bacon chicken pizza from Sprecher Landing ($3.00 for a slice) - They were out of pizza so my wife waited while they made it and as I listened to... one of the worst acoustic guitar duos ever hired. You know, I am not a negative guy, really. Sure, I have my middle aged rants once and a while, but if you get to know me, I am more fun than, well, than many other middle aged guys that rant. It appears the lack of musical talent on display is another penalty for getting to the Fair too early in the day. But rest assured, dead silence would have been a better option. Oh, about the pizza? It didn't kill us. My wife rated it 29 on a scale of 1 to 46 rainbows. RATING - CHARTREUSE.
There was a coupon in the book for $1 off a walk through the Live Reptile tent. For the 12th consecutive year, My-Sugar-Na wasn't interested in walking through with me. Some year, if I keep asking...
Heading into the Wisconsin Products Pavilion...
- Apple cider donuts from the Wisconsin Apple Growers Association (2 donuts for $1.25) - Eating donuts at the State Fair doesn't do it for me. However, it does it for my wife, as when I asked her how it was, she answered with one pulsating thumb up. I think that means it was good. RATING - GREEN.
- Honey lemonade from the Wisconsin Honey Producers Association ($2.00) - I like lemonade, and was getting a little warm from walking around in the sun, and this certainly did hit the spot. It hits the spot better on a 90 degree day than a 75 degree day, but that ain't the bees fault. RATING - CHARTREUSE.
After making a big ring around the Fair, my wife says that she wants to head towards the Australian Kingdom, which are located near the race track entrance. As we headed that direction...
- Chicken tostada from El Vagabond ($3.00) - Well, actually two for $6 as I had originally planned to sit this one out. When my wife ordered it, she never mentioned to them to hold the beans which she finds vile beyond reproach (still waiting for that tongue transplant surgery to be covered under our insurance). She comes back to the table, turns up her nose, and starts to pick at $3 worth of lettuce and cheese. I take it from her, hand her three more bucks and tell her to get one she wants. My preference would be beef to chicken, but you know what? It was pretty good, and pretty nicely sized for $3.00. Needed some salsa, which might have been on the counter (but I would have had to get up to check on). RATING - RED until my wife reordered without beans, then it skyrocketed up to CHARTREUSE.
- Some double dog thing from some restaurant on Grandstand Ave ($4 with coupon) - Look, I'm not here to tell anybody how to run a railroad (but E-mail me if you want my opinion on that). But I've got a secret. When at the Fair yesterday, I took shorthand notes on my phone. For example, I entered "Chicken tostada... beans" for the above, knowing I could check the Grazin' Day list of offerings on-line and give the proper name and restaurant location. So I assumed that when I used a coupon from the Bargain Book, I could do the same. Well, to save you the effort, let me be the first to tell you that nowhere online is there a list of coupons in the 2014 State Fair Bargain Book, so I can't tell you exactly what I had or from where. I also tried to look up the list of every food vendor, and the brilliant state government website only lists food vendors through part of "L"... no help there... It might have been Leadfoots, but I give up trying to figure it out. So my notes say "Hotshot double dog, better than it looked". What it was was two dogs (figured that out already, huh?) on one bun with a slice of bacon, three Sport peppers, cheese sauce and canned fried potato sticks. The dogs had no color, like they had been just taken from an Oscar Meyer package and microwaved. But you know what? It worked. The cheese was on every bite, the fried sticks gave crunch, the dogs weren't bad, and the Sport peppers gave a nice kick. The only problem was that about halfway through, the cheese had acted like a lubricant on the hot dogs and it became impossible to eat in the bun. RATING - YELLOW.
As the day wore on, we started to get a little tired (and a lot of full), so as thought about heading home, I mentally started scratching things from my mental list.... the Mexican Corn from El Jefe (normally PURPLE w/ FUCHSIA POLKA DOTS), the Italian Sausage from Charlie's (also PURPLE w/ FUCHSIA POLKA DOTS), a Cream Puff (because you are supposed to), and also Buffalo Chicken Dip from Tavern at the Park (that I've never tried before). But I guess in the big scheme of things, I didn't NEED to have those items, so I was (mostly) OK with it.
But as we headed out, there was one more thing I wanted to try as a walker-homer...
- Gelato coffee float from La Coppa Gelato ($4 w/ coupon) - I chose the salted caramel gelato with this, and it did hit the spot. Kind of a combination of a Jamoca shake from Arby's and a Starbucks Frappacino. Very good. RATING - GREEN.
From there, we went home, took naps, and I headed to Miller Park to continue my Grazin'.