Thursday, August 20, 2009

I Miss the Wisconsin State Fair

I'm a child at heart when it comes to county or state fairs. I LOVE THEM! I love the animals, the vendors, the food, the music and the ambience. I could sit and watch sheep judging for hours. I love watching the 4H teens carefully grooming their animals and showing me their cots where they sleep with them at night. I love the pickles and jams and honey; the quilts and shawls and blankets; the cakes and pies and all the other goodies made by men, women, and children hoping for that blue ribbon. I could stand for hours watching the knife and food chopper demonstrations. I love counting the number of people carrying the latest "magic" mop. Oh, and I love the food. Well, some of the food. There isn't a food item one can imagine that isn't sold on a stick at the fair.

It should come as no surprise that we attended the Wisconsin State Fair the first summer we moved to the Milwaukee suburbs more than 20 years ago. It's a great fair and was held just last week. In Wisconsin, you might just as well say "cream puff" the minute you say "State Fair" because that's the first thing that comes to mind for most Wisconsinites.

The cream puffs were introduced in 1924 and have been a huge hit ever since. There is even a Cream Puff Pavillion! When neighbors learned we were going to the Fair for the first time, they immediately told us we HAD to try the cream puffs. And try them we did. I can tell you that it must be an acquired taste. The popovers were light and tasty, but the cream! Oh, the cream may look light and airy, but it's full of butter, cream and sugar and leaves an oily residue on your tongue. Did I mention it's messy?

I know I am definitely in the minority. During State Fair week, the Cream Puff Pavillion opens early in the morning so people can drive through and pick up dozens of them to take to work. No matter where you work, you will find at least one box (usually empty) in the break room. In 2008, there were 381,926 cream puffs sold at the 11-day run of the Fair.

Here's what a box of cream puffs looks like.

In the close-up you can see how much cream is in there.

And here's how to eat them. There's no other way.

[All the photographs above were taken from the State Fair Website.]

On a related note, Tom Barrett, the Mayor of Milwaukee attended the Wisconsin State Fair on Saturday with his family. He heard a woman's cry for help and observed a man threatening her. The mayor yelled for the man to stop and pulled out his phone to call "911." The man attacked Mayor Barrett, hitting him hard in the stomach and knocking him to the ground. The man told the mayor not to get up. The mayor came up and landed a hard punch. That's how he broke his hand. The mayor was no match for a man with a steel baton and was rather badly beaten, sustaining a skull fracture, losing four teeth, large lacerations on his face and arms and multiple fractures of his hand.
Mayor Barrett himself says he should not have tried to fight the man and should have remained on the ground. But you can bet the citizens of Milwaukee are proud of their mayor who defended this woman and her child.
Mayor Barrett at a news conference three days following the incident:
[Photograph by Gary Porter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

Within a day, these tee shirts were available for sale with a portion of the proceeds to go to a women's shelter.

[From Brew City News]

The citizens were impressed with their mayor for another reason. The incident happened while he and his family were walking the several blocks to their car. They appreciate that he didn't have priority parking. He drove around and found a space and walked like the rest of them.


Sandiana Jones said...

I loved your post this morning. I'm originally from Illinois, now living in OR and I too miss the Wisconsin State fair as it was only an hour from my house. What a great story about the mayor, and the t-shirt is fabulous!
Just goes to show ya, you shouldn't mess with midwesterners, we protect our own! :)

Anonymous said...

Wow! I wish more politicians were such heroic, proactive people.

Jen said...

You go Mayor! I love it! I wish more people in authority would stand up for what's right! Makes me want to move to Wisconsin :)


PS: The cream puffs look would take me at least a week to eat it all!

Dog_geek said...

I read that story in the news yesterday, and was impressed. What a nice change to hear about a politician doing the right thing, even sacrificing himself for the good of others.

Barb said...

Great post - loved seeing the cream puffs, though they do look like more than I could handle! I did read about the Mayor's scuffle. The T-shirt says it all!

Betsy Banks Adams said...

Great post, Carolyn. Those cream puffs made my mouth water... ha!!!! I've never had a cream puff with THAT much cream.... WOW---I could really enjoy that.

Isn't it wonderful to have such great memories???? I enjoyed the fair--through your eyes.

I heard about the mayor. Glad he is okay... SCARY!!!

Busy Bee Suz said...

I love this story. Well, the cream puffs? I think I just gained 5lbs looking at them!!! Your mayor is awesome. I am sorry he was hurt, but it is nice to see we have some leaders that really are leaders. ;)

Brenda Kay Ledford said...

I enjoyed your posting on the Wisconsin State Fair. I enjoy attending the GA Mtn. Fair that's held each July in Hiawassee,GA. Those creme puffs looked so delicious. Isn't it wonderful to have such great childhood memories?

Dawn Fine said...

Great story!
Love the cream puffs too!

Cheryl said...

The mayor sure has my vote.....a real man.....

I love county shows here.....very similar to your fair...BUT we don't have the cream puffs. Oh my they look gorgeous, I can feel the pounds going on my hips just thinking about them!!

Rudee said...

He is my hero. It does my heart good to know that there are men who would come to the aid of a complete stranger. He should be the NY Times Man of the Year.

I like my cream puffs the Michigan way: warmed then cut open with a a scoop of vanilla Sanders ice cream and loads of their hot fudge sauce. I'm salivating.

Tina said...

Yea for your mayor! I read about his ordeal..ouch! Definitely a leader and a good one..
loved the t-shirt..wonder if his wife bought one?? tee he
...and now let's get to those cream puffs..OMG...GIMMEE GIMEE...
as I look at my 4 oz of yogurt!! hmmm.

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

Those really were heroic actions.
We should be proud of him.

robin andrea said...

I read about the mayor a few days ago and thought he was incredibly heroic. You paint a great picture of the state fair, and I love the story of the cream puffs. That tee-shirt is even more delightful knowing how important that sweet confection is.

Unknown said...

I grew up in Milwaukee and the very first thing I thought of when I read your post headline was "OMG CREAM PUFFS!!!" It's been years since I've had a real cream puff, and by real I mean WI State Fair cream puff. Sure, I got hooked on Beard Papa's dainty little cream puffs while I lived in NYC, but nothing compares to a Dairy State version.

D.K. Wall said...

The mayor of Milwaukee rocks. What a great act all the way around, right down to not asking for special parking.

Do you go to the NC Mountain Fair? I know you are close to it and it starts in a few weeks. Not the same, but still is pretty cool

KGMom said...

As Rachel Maddow pointed out, the mayor could run for gov & probably win.
Oh even the photos of the cream puffs look fattening.

Anonymous said...

Glad you told me that. I'm impressed with the mayor, too.

My daughter sent me some photos from the Indiana State Fair. The Fried Pepsi stand there can't hold a candle to Wisconsin cream puffs!

Valerie Cummings said...

Oh yes I saw that on the news! You should meet my friend Sue at Random Ramblings.... she LOVES THE FAIR!!!! Hugs Joey and Kealani

Jayne said...

Oh...cream puffs! I remember well the feel of that cream on the tongue...and the very fluffy shell... mmmmmm. :c)

Good for Mr. Mayor!

NCmountainwoman said...

Thanks everyone.

Sandiana - Quite a move from the midwest to OR.

Rudee - I think I would like the ice cream ones better too.

Thundering Herd - We have not gone to the WNC Fair yet. Primarily because of the hours of operation. Doesn't open weekdays until the late afternoon when the crowds gather far too quickly for our comfort.

Donna - Barrett will likely run for gov. He used to be our WI Representative until they eliminated his district and he decided not to run in the newly created one. He was a good Congressman and I'd like to see him as gov.

Caboval - I DO read Random Ramblings. I think everyone should go to their county fair.

troutbirder said...

I'm with you Carolyn. State fairs are just great. We hardly ever miss ours which begins shortly. Plus, its the only place I can eat all the food I love and shouln't eat without getting reprimanded!

Beth said...

One of the things I miss about living in Raleigh, where we lived for fifteen years, is going to the North Carolina State Fair. No cream puffs, but some great food nevertheless. I particularly used to love going to the booths run by churches and other organizations, where you could get some fine, down-home cookin' and some warm, friendly smiles. I've heard good things about the NC Mountain State Fair, too, but have never been.
Those cream puffs look absolutely decadent. I love the picture of the little girl eating one---she looks so joyful.

It was so encouraging and inspiring to read about the mayor, especially in this era of mostly self-serving politicians.

By the way, I had to laugh at your tongue-in-cheek comment on my blog about wondering why all those people are on "your" trails, because I've said exactly the same thing to my husband, mostly tongue-in-cheek, of course. :-)

Ashley said...

Wow what an intense story! Good for him, I'm glad he is ok and I hope they caught the guy.

Twisted Fencepost said...

Those cream puffs look delicious. But I'm afraid all the fluff would make me sick.
Here's an attaboy for the mayor. We should all have to humility and pride that he has.
Did they catch the guy?
And I wonder what went through his mind when he found out he'd attacked the mayor?