Monday, November 14, 2011

Destination: Clarks Grove, MN

Despite having about 23 years of Minnesota living under my belt, I still have huge gaps in my Minnesota knowledge. There are, for example, MANY towns I've never heard of, let alone visited. Maybe that's why I love walking around in the Fair's animal barns and checking out all the farm signs. It's a totally different world, and I find myself wondering about what it would be like to live in location X, or, for that matter, where exactly in Minnesota IS location X? This  year, I've decided to periodically post on various towns or hamlets who had representation at the Fair, starting with tiny Clarks Grove, Minnesota, home to the Busch family and their sheep.

Clarks Grove is apparently VERY small; I had a difficult time finding information online. According to 2000 census data, however, Clarks Grove's zip code (which may extend beyond Clarks Grove) had a popuation of 1,126 people, and 433 households. Clarks Grove is located in Freeborn County southern Minnesota, near Albert Lea. According to Mapquest, the Shepherd's Ridge sheep traveled approximately 92 miles to reach the Minnesota State Fair.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Magic Maze's Green Dragon

Ever wonder who is responsible for all those distinctive Midway ride art? To be honest, I never did in the past; it was just something in the background, helping provide some sort of thematic difference between each ride. Ride X was all about wizards and dragons, while Ride B is about genies and harems. This year, however, I spent more time actually looking at these fully mobile murals, and grew to appreciate the genre.

The dragon above was on the Magic Maze, and was designed and painted by Duncan Design, a company based out of Santa Rosa, California. Duncan Design is headed by "Artistic Director" Greg Duncan, an artist with a degree in Theater Arts. His eight employees come from diverse artistic backgrounds, with many of them having expertise in theatrical design. They do a little bit of everything; as the website states, "we offer award-winning design and fabrication for entertainment venues, restaurants, amusement parks, and retail malls." Checking out companies like Duncan Design always makes me wonder what life would be like if I'd taken a different career path. While I'm happy with the route I've taken, I still think it would be pretty cool to work at a place like this, and to get to be a part of the long tradition of carnival art and design. For now, I'm content just wandering the Fair and checking out all the background details that sometimes get lost behind the flashing lights, blaring music, and clanking machinery of the rides themselves.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

March to Your Own Drum at the Minnesota State Fair -- or to Theirs

It's November, and you know what that means... International Drum Month! Presumably for these young drummers, members of Minneapolis First Church's Pathfinder Club, every month is drum month. They're regular participants in the Minnesota State Fair parade; they marched here on August 26, 2011.