Dom’s (British) friends, Simon and Steve, have been on an epic American journey for the past month, and Dom and I are glad they decided to include Chicago as one of their stops. Never hesitant for an excuse to take a quick road trip ourselves, we used their visit as an excuse to (a) visit all of our Chicago favorites and (b) escape the city for the holiday weekend. And, thanks to Catherine indoctrinating me to the greatness that is the Minnesota State Fair two years ago, I knew just the place to which to take these three Brits to celebrate all that makes America great. (Note: America is already great. Hence, it does need to be made great again.)
After many family and friend visits to Chicago, I feel we have honed our hosting skills. Our three-evening lineup featured dinner at Kuma’s, a Chicago Cubs game with Todd and Carolyn, and an evening viewing of The Coughing Lumberjack at iO’s Improv Shakespeare. Highlights include a Cubs (nail-biting) win against the Pittsburgh Pirates and a waitress at Improv Shakespeare shaming Simon and Steve for not leaving a tip (to be fair to the Brits, they were intending to leave a tip after the show, they just hadn’t gotten to it yet).
By 3pm on Friday, we were Minnesota-bound via a one-night stay in Madison. I have been wanting to visit Madison since I moved to Chicago and, now that I’ve been, I can say that my desire was rightly-placed. We feasted on Laotian food upon AJ’s suggestion, explored the enormous farmer’s market around Capitol Square, meandered through the Capitol building (although sadly it was a weekend and the legislature was not in session), and ended the afternoon with a visit to Anthology, a wonderful stationery store (where Hillary Clinton shops, according to a sign there!) upon Todd and Carolyn’s suggestion. Most enjoyably, I woke up before the boys Saturday morning and went for a seven-mile jog along Lake Mendota. The path was lightly wooded and afforded the most beautiful views of the sun rising. Bonus effect: it made me feel slightly less guilty about the forthcoming massive amounts of fried food I would consume the following day at the State Fair.
Needless to say, no amount of running will make up for our Sunday fair extravaganza. We arrived at the fairgrounds at 9:30am and, in the 11 hours that ensued, we consumed:
- Cheese curds (twice; the first time in bucket-form)
- Sweet Martha’s Cookies (twice; the second time in bucket-form)
- doughnuts (adorable mini ones that melted in your mouth)
- frozen custard (if only all ice cream were like this)
- lefse (good job, Sweden)
- honey butter peanuts (couldn’t resist them)
- corn on the cob (literally the tastiest corn I have ever had)
- falafel (when I realized I needed something of substance)
- (unlimited) milk (regular and chocolate)
- cheese sticks (because who doesn’t want cheese on a stick?)
- and probably more that I can’t recall at this moment
Other highlights include climbing on tractors, watching a lumberjack show (go team 13!), having a pig snort snot all over my face, watching baby pigs born (the pig literally gave birth right in front of me), beating Dom down the giant slide, ogling at butter sculptures of Princess Kay finalists, spending three minutes in nearly complete darkness on the Tunnel of Love (note: it was not at all obvious that that is what the boat ride was going to be), partaking in a Hey Jude singalong in which I became disproportionately invested, and screaming uncontrollably while riding the Crazy Mouse roller-coaster.
The four of us joined 233,299 other individuals at the Fair on Sunday, and boy am I glad we did. I will definitely be back again.