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We Did It: Sen. Klobuchar Finally Declares MN State Fair Best in Nation

Plus RIP Midwest Mountaineering, Park-n-Ride nightmares, and mustard seed's last hurrah in today's Flyover news roundup.


Amy is really winning this year’s Great Minnesota Get-Together.

Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily digest of what local media outlets and Twitter-ers are gabbing about.

Annoyed by Racket, Klobes Makes It Right for MN

Last year Racket issued an email with the following subject to the office of U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar: "On-the-record opportunity: Amy declares MN State Fair best in nation?"

In it, we offered an "in-on-the-joke PR layup for Amy," one that sought to rectify her years-long refusal to pander to her home state by boasting that the Minnesota State Fair is the nation’s best. We never heard back, so we authored a story that kinda teed off on the whole ordeal. At the very bottom, we vowed to pester Klobuchar yet again this year. And, last week, that’s exactly what happened when Racket requested yet another five-minute phoner with the senator.

Incredibly, we heard back from head comms person Jane Meyer last week, at first via email and then with a phone call. (She correctly identified our article from last year as “gratuitous.”) Klobuchar, we were told, was prepared to make things right, but we’d get a prepared statement instead of a phone call. Fine, great, whatever it takes. Days ticked by until, finally, the following declaration from Klobuchar arrived in our inbox this morning. 

As I said when I hosted Secretary Vilsack, nothing compares to the Great Minnesota Get Together - it’s the best! Not only do we have the biggest state fair (Texas doesn’t count because theirs is open for a whole month), we have butter sculptures made out of actual blocks of butter. Some of my favorite memories are from spending time at the Fair with my family, and I know people from across our state feel the same.

She even size-shamed Texas! And talked shit about the Illinois State Fair's recent butter fraudulence! Thank you, madam senator. Thank you so much. God bless gnat-like persistence, god bless State Fair homerism, and god bless America. 

Midwest Mountaineering to Close This Fall

File under "news we hate": After more than 50 years, Midwest Mountaineering will close in October, according to a scoop from the Star Tribune's Gita Sitaramiah. Owner Rod Johnson says the writing was on the wall; the store, located on Minneapolis's West Bank, has lost money every single month of 2023 so far, and save for a small bump during the pandemic, he says sales have been declining for about seven years now. Attribute that to what you will: big box stores like REI cutting into sales, increased operating expenses, Minnesotans spending more time with their screens and less time outside. There's also the fact that, unlike, many of their competitors, Midwest Mountaineering never shifted to online sales, though newsletter subscribers got to enjoy incredible, limited-time deals like this one, sent out just a few weeks ago:

Now I regret not slapping on some sandals and taking advantage of it | Screenshot of Midwest Mountaineering email

A tiny sliver of good news? Johnson says a going-out-of business sale will start this Friday, September 1, and runs through October, with discounts between 30% and 75%.

Park-and-Ride Experiences Haunt Suburban Fairgoers

The Minnesota State Fair is back, baby! Attendance is way up this year, meaning more people are trying to get there. Travel logistics for big events is never fun, but suburbanites trying to park-and-ride seem to be especially miserable this year. "We learned our lesson," one rider told the Strib after waiting over an hour for a ride on Friday. The following days she discovered that showing up 15 minutes earlier got her on a bus faster. “We got there and there was a big sign that said the parking lot was full,” a White Bear rider told MPR. He gave up on going to the fair after visiting three different lots that were either full or had hours-long waits. So why are things so rough? There are currently 31 park-and-rides throughout the Twin Cities—that’s up one from last year—but while people have returned to the fair, full pre-pandemic staffing hasn’t. 

Other options aren’t great, either. “After an hour of frustration circling the Minnesota State Fair on opening day, I finally had to Venmo $25 to a woman to park on her lawn,” writes Sahan Journal reporter Alfonzo Galvan of his first trip to the fair (hey, some of the Racket crew paid $40, so that’s a deal!). Folks who bike face patches of direct sunlight and high vehicle traffic areas, and getting an Uber to take you home can be tricky at the Fairgrounds, which often turns cell phones into bricks. Your best bet? Buy property in the area so you can walk over to the fair next year.

Mustard Becomes a Must-Not

Big crop art news: As Jennifer Brooks reports over at the Strib, this is the last year crop artists will be permitted to use yellow mustard seed. "It's a hard, uniform seed. It's a vibrant yellow. It dyes well," lamented veteran crop artist Brandi Brown, whose entry this year is called “Who Snitched on Yellow Mustard?” "Just a terrible seed to lose." And Brown’s wasn’t the only work to comment on the fate of mustard—this is a big deal to the artists who’ve come to rely on the seed. The real question isn’t why mustard seeds were banned, though—it’s why state fair crop artists were allowed to use them for so long. All seeds are supposed to be native to Minnesota, which mustard is not. The matter was brought to the attention of 83-year-old Ron Kelsey, the fair's superintendent of farm crops, and the decision was made. As Brooks notes, “Minnesota is battling an invasion of noxious garlic mustard and the last thing anyone wanted to do was encourage a non-Minnesota mustard.”

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