Love on a Stick

I’m the luckiest girl in the world, & for a lot of reasons.

IMG_7709I have family–a husband who loves me (still!) & kids who make us proud (when they’re not making us crazy).

I have my health–though at 42 (today!) I’m starting to squint at the fine print.  And make an unseemly amount of noise when I get up in the morning.  Nothing gastro-intestinal (thank GOD) but a lot of snap, crackle, POP in the ol’ joints.  It’s sort of musical, I guess.  It has a beat. You could dance to it, maybe.  Once you stretch out.

IMG_7869But the biggest blessing?  My birthday.  And not just because I’ve reached another one.  (Though thanks be, right?)  No, the best part about my birthday is that–through a freakish lucky break–it always but ALWAYS happens during the Minnesota State Fair.

Which is, as many of you know, the Very Best Time Of The Year.

milk run 2014That is where I am today, as I have been every single August 29th since I discovered the glory that is the Great Minnesota Get Together.  I am at the state fair grounds with 150 thousand of my very best friends, eating my way through the day.

True confession, though?  This isn’t my first day at the fair this year.  It usually isn’t.

IMG_7679See, the first day is when my whole family does the State Fair 5k.  Here we are with our faithful friends the Ormans–who also accompanied us to the Boundary Waters earlier this month. (They are a family of intrepid adventurers & we love them.  Hello, Ormans!)  So we begin the day with a 5k, then proceed to vet the entire fair.  We check out all the new vendors, the new exhibits, we knock off the kids’ favorite stuff–we do fair hair or get henna tattos.  (See photo.  The turkey leg–what’s left of it–is for scale.)  We do the midway, the giant slide, etc.   We eat caramel apples & minidonuts for breakfast, we get our free coffees & milkshakes (which come with the run.)

WIMG_7837e watch Princess Kay of the Milky Way get her head carved in a giant block of butter.  (Not even kidding.  See?)

The second day is my birthday.  Which is my day.  So we do everything I want to do.

Here is my list for this year:

Visit the animal barns.

I like a nice, leisurely stroll through the barns.  All of them.  It’s fun to see the Big Pig–over one thousand pounds of swine on the hoof, ladies!  Though, usually, he’s just on his side, because, dang.  That’s a lot of pork.  But I like the Miracle of Birth barn especially.  Last year we saw a lamb being born.  It was…amazing.  And gross.  And compelling.   The kids could NOT look away.  It was birth control at its finest, & yet educational.  Win/win, as far as I was concerned.

IMG_7843See the 4H exhibits.

I grew up in the country, but we were never country people.  My dad wanted land & space but he was in sales.  He commuted into the city for his job every day, & we drove a good thirty minutes into the nearest suburb for most of our activities.  It was a weird little combo that left us kids without the polish & street-smarts of city kids but also without the skills & know-how of country kids. We were useless little suburbanites.  So I’m fascinated by 4H, & the amazing things these kids know how to do.  I love to walk slowly through the 4H building & carefully read each project.  I love to inspect the dresses they sewed, the sheep they raised, the cotton they grew.  It’s wonderful.  This corn cob fascinator right here is actually an art exhibit, but you get the idea.  Plus…a CORN COB FASCINATOR?  Yes, please.  And thank you.

IMG_7696Do the fair at night.

This year we’re trying something new.  We’ll do the daylight hours as a family, but I’ve arranged for a sitter for the evening.  We’ll bring the kids home, get them settled, then Mr. Sey & I will go BACK to the fair & do the evening like a couple of carefree kids.  We’ll drink beer & eat cheese curds.  We’ll take in some live music.  The fair is great about serving up a whole host of random B list musicians from our own teen years.  We’re like, “Damn, Debbie Gibson??”  And our children are like, “MOM.  This is STUPID.  Can we GO now?”  So we’re leaving their complainy selves at home while we indulge ourselves.  Maybe Mr. Sey will win me a giant stuffed banana wearing a Rasta hat or something.  We’ll see.


Of course we’ll eat.  Eat, eat, eat.  Because that’s a good deal of what the state fair is all about.   But you can only stuff down so much per day so a second day is definitely necessary.  For example, during our first fair day this year my eldest child (aka Madame Fussy Pants) tackled one of those giant turkey legs, solo.  It took her the better part of four hours but she nailed it.  It was a laudable accomplishment–it might have weighed more than she did–but it didn’t leave her much room to try the Fudge Puppy or the Jello Salad Ice Cream.  And after the caramel apple sundae, I didn’t have the wherewithal to tackle the Deep Fried Buckeyes.  So you know, you really require a second day at the fair.

IMG_7759So that’s where I am today, folks.  Internet is spotty at the fair, so forgive me if I’m not very present here today.  I’ll try to live-tweet/Facebook our progress but if I’m not on the comments as much as I should be, please know that I’m thinking of each & every one of you.  And I’ll report back.

So how about you?  How do YOU like to spend your birthday?  Do you celebrate?  Do you down play it?  Do you do cake and ice cream?  Presents?   What’s your tradition?


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  • Terri Osburn says:

    I love this post. I love everything about it. I grew up going to our county fair and really miss it. Now I have festivals at the oceanfront, but they’re not the same. Not at all. Maybe I need to make a trip to Richmond this year and take in the state fair. I think we’ll do that.

    Oh, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! My birthday is on New Years Eve, so you’d think I’d always have a party. Well, there’s always a party, but it’s never for me. LOL! I can’t remember the last time I got a cake on my birthday. Or a present for that matter. Yeah, don’t recommend having your birthday on New Years Eve. 🙂

    • Cassondra says:

      Ohhhh! Poor Terri!

      Born on New Years Eve and no party!

      You should have one every year. JUST for you.

      Yes. You should.

    • Susan Sey says:

      Terri, I feel your pain! If I ever left MN, I would weep bitter tears about missing the fair. You should come visit us some year round about the last week of August. I’d get you your state fair fix, no problem. 🙂

      Also, my sympathies on your NYE birthday. Sometimes a holiday birthday can be fun but sometimes it truly sucks. You should pick some other day & just make it yours. Eventually people will get on board & bring you cake.

    • Terri –

      My sister’s birthday is on NYE. I was always jealous because she was always at some party. The bad part is the day is so close to Christmas – not sure you make out in the present dept.

      Just thought I’d pop in to say – take heart – there’s someone out there that is jealous of your special day. 🙂

    • Jeanne Adams says:

      Hey Terri, the Rooster remembers your birthday, guarantee it. Grins. Congrats on nabbing him today, btw. He didn’t really want to go to the fair with Susan. Too many deep-fat fryers.


      So sorry about the NYE birthday. I have a friend who’s that same day and celebrates her “Half-Birthday” on July 20th. That way it’s alllll about her, just as it should be. Grins.

      • Terri Osburn says:

        Thanks, ladies! I love the half birthday idea. And yes, so close to Christmas was a total rip off. I’d get the “We’ll set one present aside for you to open on your birthday.” WTH??

        Susan, I may take you up on that invite. I’m sure it’s much cooler up there than here right now. 🙂

        Donna, don’t be jealous. Really. Other than the one year I celebrated on Beale Street, they’ve all been duds. LOL!

  • Terri Osburn says:

    Oh, did I get the rooster?? Cool. He can help with the yard work! (It pays to be a night-owl writer. Heh.)

    • Cassondra says:

      Yes indeedy, Ms Terri. You go the pest..uh…rooster for the day!

      Don’t let him hide in the bushes. He thinks his feathers will help him blend in and he can snooze the day away.

      Put that bird to work!

      • Susan Sey says:

        I don’t know, the GR is sort of like a child when it comes to work. It takes as much effort on your part to get him to work as it does to just do the work yourself. Sometimes more. But if you have time to stand on principle, do it. I love a man who does yard work.

  • Jane says:

    Happy Birthday, Susan. Birthdays here are low key, but we do always have a special dinner. There’s also cake and I usually want Carvel’s ice cream cake.

    • Cassondra says:

      Yum! Jane! Ice cream cake! *slurp*

      We don’t have Carvel”s down here. I wanna try it.

    • Susan Sey says:

      Mmmmm, Jane, that sounds delicious! I’m going to have to have ice cream now. I wonder if I can find some at the fair?

      Ha. Of course I can. It’ll just be on a stick.

  • ki pha says:

    What a great birthday you’re having! I wish I was going to the MN State Fair. Was planning on going this Saturday but (!), I was put on mandatory 12 hour shift at work. Urgh!!! My last days to enjoy the homeland before my huge trip abroad crushed.

    But as for my birthday I don’t like to do much. I love it when my mom cooks my favorite dishes and I hated parties so it’s good to have it small. I do enjoy cake but it has to be really good, I would probably like it to be an ice cream cake since I do love ice cream. But yeah, no presents, there isn’t much to get me unless you want o get me a bookcase or more money to buy books. Or a trip! 😉

    • Cassondra says:

      ki pha, I see you’ve reached that point…when gift cards are best, and you will spend them all on books or eating out.

      Yeah. We eventually get what we want, mostly, and it ends up there, doesn’t it?

      • ki pha says:

        Yup, although I still enjoy the little gifts like jewelry and clothes I’ll rather just get a gift card.

    • Susan Sey says:

      Oh, Ki Pha, I’m with you! I don’t need *things* any more. I want experiences. I’d so much rather take a trip or a class than open a present. Which is how we’ve ended up doing the fair thing instead of presents for me every year. I just love the tradition of it.

      I’m so sorry to hear that work has intruded on your fair plans, though. Have a super trip, though! Where are you going?

      • ki pha says:

        Yes, it was so sad when my boss told me I had to work 12 hours to reach our month’s goal. So wanted to check out the new center there.

        But as for my trip I’m going to London for two weeks! I’m super excited yet nervous at the same time. It’ll be my first time abroad and traveling solo.

  • Cassondra says:

    I love this post!

    I have always, always ALWAYS wanted to go to the state fair, and not have some “obligation”–aka a booth I’m working, or an exhibit I’m running. It never has happened. I wanna go! (It may be too late, as I think it happens in August. *hangs head*).

    I wanna see the giant rabbit!
    I don’t care about the rides, but the exhibits and the cooking competitions and the animal barn? Yeah. I’ve always wanted to go to that stuff.
    I have three words for you, Susan Sey.

    Deep. Fried. Twinkie!

    • Susan Sey says:

      Oh, baby, I’ve been there, done that in terms of deep fried twinkies. And snickers bars & most other candy-items.

      What I’m after this year? The new thing?

      Deep-fried buckeyes.

      Yeah, that’s right. Ohio’s favorite cookie has come to MN, only deep fried & on a stick.

      I will report back…

      • Jeanne Adams says:

        Yeah….about that….you HAVE to report back on the buckeye thing. I lived in Ohio for a while and I love those cookies. Deep fried though?


        I await your report with bated breath….

  • Cassondra says:

    Ohhh! Happy Birthday!

    I downplay mine. I’m feeling really olde of late.

    That’s old with an e. Which is…ancient.


    • Susan Sey says:

      Ah! I see. You’re not old; you’re “olde timey”. Which is definitely better. You’d go for more at auction.

      Cripes, so will I.

      Let’s just hope we’re improving with age. Like wine or cheese. Both of which I loooooooove. Goodness knows I’ve consumed enough of both to be practically made of them at this point.

      Which sounds suspiciously like a strategy, now that I think of it, but I can assure you, it was utterly accidental.

      But delicious.

      • Jeanne Adams says:

        Oooh, I LOVE that strategy! Since I have employed that strategy for eons – seriously, if does feel like eons – then I too must be made of cheese and wine. Yum! Go me!!


  • Amy Conley says:

    Because my birthday is Jan 2nd, no one ever wants to do anything, they are all celebrated out. My mother always made a big deal out of all of our birthdays, but hubby, not so much.
    Also my daughter’s birthday is Jan 1st, and during her school years she always had a slumber party New Year’s Eve and by the time all the girls left our house, usually late afternoon, hubby and I were exhausted.

    • Susan Sey says:

      I have two very close relatives whose birthdays are December 26, so I know all about the post-holiday birthday. I’m so sorry.

      Sounds like your daughter has co-opted the holiday as her own, though, which is super smart thinking. You must be proud of that girl!

      But I’ll bet you’re extra tired on New Year’s Day when you’ve hosted a slumber party AND rung in the new year. You must be an awesome mom!

  • Helen says:

    Happy Birthday Susan sounds like you are having a ball 🙂

    We usually have a family bbq with lots of cake for our birthdays nothing huge but I do love having all of the family together

    Have Fun

    • Susan Sey says:

      You nailed it, Helen! Have the family together, & eating a bunch of delicious food. That’s the magic formula. Really, going to the State Fair is just the vehicle for the tradition.

  • Shannon says:

    Ah, the 4-H projects. You see the dress, the photographs, the plants, the jam, the sheep, or the cow. What I remember is filling out the book for the judges. On livestock, we had to start with the price of the animal, cost of feed, vet bills, etc. So the week before the fair, it was an exercise in creative fiction to get the books done. Hint: that sheep or dress, I now think of annual performance reviews the same way–procrastinate and then make stuff up. Unless something extraordinary happens, you’ll end up with a red ribbon. Except for my butterhorns as a bread entry. Those are so good, I usually got first or second grand prize. Thank you Grandma!

    My birthday falls in September, so there’s no competition. But I like it low key. My favorite thing is to take the day off, sleep in, have a good breakfast, get together with someone for lunch who has promised not to tell the wait staff to sing their stupid song, and have lunch AND desert. Or to do lunch, go shopping, and pop in on say the Cheesecake Factory for just cheese cake. And sometimes, it has pumpkin cheese cake that early in the season.

    BTW, for some reason I’m craving funnel cake.

    • Susan Sey says:

      Ooooh, I like how you roll, Shannon! Making your friends swear on their lives not to breathe a word to the waitstaff about your birthay? Genius!

      Also, I want a funnel cake, too.

      I think I’ll go find one! Pardon me….

  • Susan…Can I just say my mind went a different place for a minute with your title. Yes. Yes, it did. ;D

    Have fun at the fair. In fact, have twice as much fun, because you can have my share. I don’t do fairs anymore. Why? Because as a teen, I worked four summers there…everyday. UGH.

    My birthday is in November and only 5 days before my mom’s. So, I fly home every year to see her. I also buy a slice of Dulce de Leche cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory. And I eat a few bites all week long. I get my treat and don’t feel guilty about it at all!!

    • Susan Sey says:

      You mind went where??

      Ha. Just kidding. Mine did, too. That’s why I love you.

      As for your share of fair fun, I can see why you’d give it up. But I’ll take it, & happily. 🙂

      Your bday tradition with your mom sounds devine, btw. Though I have to admit, I couldn’t restrain myself to a single bite or two. I’d gobble. I wouldn’t be able to help myself. Because…cheesecake.

  • Susan Sey says:

    Okay, folks, this birthday girl is off to the fair! I’ll report back in a few hours. Meanwhile, have fun & don’t burn the place down!

  • Happy Birthday Susan!
    Hope you had a great time at the fair. How lucky you are that the MN State Fair falls on your birthday! It’s a sign, I say. An omen. 🙂

    We go out to dinner on my birthday, the whole family, then come home to cake and ice cream and presents. However, if I had my way, we’d celebrate the day on a warm beach and toast the passing of years with an umbrella drink. One of these days…..

  • Jo Robertson says:

    Such a delightful post, Susan. Only you can put such a spin on a fair! Or a birthday! I agree that the best part of a fair is the food! And where else in the world can you discover butter carvings?

    I like quiet celebrations. Even when I was 42, I didn’t want a lot of falderol! But I do like the luxury of a quiet day with no obligations and everyone treating me like a queen :-))

  • Jeanne Adams says:

    Susan, I LOVE this post!!! Grins. I also love county fairs, state fairs, and virtually any kind of carnival or festival. I’m so with you on the turkey legs too. Me and Miss Fussy Pants, we’re allllll about the turkey legs. Slurp!!!

    Happy, happy birthday, btw!!! Hope you’re having a superb day at the MN State Fair. Yay! Pet a cow or sheep for me. I didn’t make it to our county fair this year, though I usually do. I’m hoping to go to the state fair.

    As to birthdays, I love them. I love to celebrate anything, but esp my birthday. I love cards and notes and I love that people say happy birthday on facebook and twitter and all that. Total extrovert that I am, I’m in love with all that. Grins.

    Since my birthday falls in December, there’s always a snowy fest, or a light show or play to go see and I have trained them all (my family, that is) to NOT combine Christmas with my birthday. So it’s alllll good. Grins.

    Have a great day!!

    • Susan Sey says:

      It does take time to train your family to properly recognize your special days, doesn’t it? It was years before my family understood that, while I’m not fussy about what sort of cake is provided for my birthday, that a cake SHOULD BE PROVIDED.

      I think it’s a violation of natural laws to provide your own birthday cake.

  • Becke says:

    Happy Day to you. Mine is tomorrow, however, I have some years on you. The bad thing about a birthday at this time is many years school started on my bd. One would think they wouldn’t do that with the holiday quickly following. Of course if there’s no logic, we must jump on the idea.

    In the south the state farm is later in the fall so it’s not so beastly hot. For my big day, we are heading for the zip line.

    Enjoy yours.

    • Becke says:

      That would be fair not farm!

      I love to watch the pig races. Do you have those?

      • Susan Sey says:

        Oh my goodness, a PIG RACE?

        No, our state fair does not provide this fabulous option.

        We do dress up llamas though. Does that count?

        Also, happy birthday!

    • Cassondra says:

      Happy birthday Becke!

      Happy BIRthday to you
      Happy BIRRRRTHday to you
      Happy Birthday tooooooooooo…

  • I should have known Smoov would have an ultra cool birthday! It has been a while since I’ve attended the Alabama State Fair or any state fair for that matter, but I do have fond memories. The last time I went I attended with some former students of mine. One of them had just been awarded full custody of his two young sons . (They do that when they find the kids filthy and hungry in a crack house with Mom as high as the Goodyear Blimp over the Super Bowl.) It was a tough time and he was trying to help the kids adjust. We went to the fair and I rode every ride with those kids. We had a blast!! Those kids are in their twenties now and their Dad did a great job. They still remember that state fair and the “aunt” who rode all of the rides and let them eat all of that food. LOL

    My birthday is four days after Christmas. No party for me and I always got the “We’ll hold this one back for your birthday.” gift routine. Sigh.

    I was in 4-H and state fair time was always fun. I did the cooking and sewing stuff. I never raised the animals because they made you sell them for slaughter. I don’t eat animals whose names I have known. Just saying.

    I know you are having a FABULOUS birthday!

    • Cassondra says:

      Louisa, that’s been my rule too. About the animals.

      I was a farm girl, and my daddy was a hunter. Steve used to hunt too, so I hold no illusions about meat coming from “The Store.”

      But I can’t even eat it if I know I’ve seen it standing in a field. I’ve turned into such a big fat wuss.

      It’s why I don’t have a few goats or sheep right now. I’d be running a home for geriatric animals at some point. I do that for chickens already.
      Cassondra’s home for geriatric chickens.


      • LOL, Me too, Cassondra! I was running a home for geriatric chickens! My last one died several years ago at the ripe old age of 14. My brothers called her Zombie Chicken because she refused to die!

  • Patricia Cochran says:

    I usually share a birthday gathering with all the other
    August b-days in the family. There’s 10, counting
    immediate family, cousins, uncles. Eighteen of us went out to lunch. Then the “baby girls” ( the youngest of the granddaughters) simply had to have their own party, attended by the immediate family. Now this weekend, my SIL is hosting a party for my brother, so that makes three week- ends in a row sharing cakes of all kinds! If you don’t hear from me on Monday, it will be because I ‘ve gone into sugar shock!

    Birthday greetings to you and my birthday buddy Anna Campbell. We share a birthday on August 24.

  • Mozette says:

    I have my birthday coming up in October. I’ll be 41 years old (I don’t shy away from my birthday as I don’t look 40… I look around 5 years younger).

    Well, I never had a 40th birthday party and my family don’t know any of my friends since my abusive ex-bf got rid of a good percentage of them on me. So, I thought it would be a good idea if I got my family and friends together at my birthday this year. There is another reason too… a couple of my friends aren’t going to be around in the next few years. One of them is moving to Tasmania and the other one has skin cancer (to the point where the doctors can’t do much about it) and so does her daughter. And my friend with skin cancer might not be around next year, so I want her and her family to be at my party at my place.

    It’ll be a nice day at my place to kick back, enjoy some good food, good music and good company… nothing bad should go wrong. I don’t want anyone to feel stressed out… and if they do feel inclined, they can come in costume – seeing my birthday is in the month of Halloween 😀

    I love birthdays 😀

  • Deb says:

    I haven’t been to our state fair in years. It is reputed to be the best in the nation and has had over a million visitors in the last decade or so. Attendance was down this year….rained a couple of times.
    My mother always made fried chicken and mashed potatoes for my birthday. I love chocolate, but always request carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.
    Now, my husband, daughter and I may go out to eat, or just stay home. This year, though, my daughter has a volleyball game the afternoon of my birthday, so we will attend the game and probably eat a hamburger from the concession stand. 🙂
    Happy, Happy Birthday, Susan!!!!

    • Deb says:

      Not that I want to announce it, but everyone looks at me funny when I give my birth date….It is
      9-11. That was a very sad and depressing day many years ago. But, it is my birthday, and I do like those numbers. 😉

      • Susan Sey says:

        One of my sisters has a 9/11 birthday. It was a rough go for a few years there, but I think it’s getting better. It’s still tough to be celebratory on that date but she sort of picks a day near her actual birthday to celebrate instead of the real thing. Hopefully you’ve also found ways to sneak in some joy on a pretty somber day.

    • Susan Sey says:

      I just want to go on record as saying that I *love* carrot cake. It’s the absolute best cake in the world, hands down.

  • catslady says:

    Happy Birthday! The fair sounds like a fun way to celebrate. Going out to dinner is my favorite – it’s one of the few days I refuse to cook lol. (that and Mother’s Day). Sometimes we do a movie too since we don’t go to too many.

  • Marcy Shuler says:

    Happy Birthday, Susan!

    I’m a bit jealous. I’ve never been to a huge state fair, but I’ve heard the MN one is a fabulous one to go to. My b-day is mid November. We just do the stay at home, cake and ice cream and see who can sing the strangest thing. LOL I do have a wonderful MIL who always gives me a large bookstore gift card, so I’m happy. 😉

    • Susan Sey says:

      Who can sing the strangest thing? I’m intrigued! Give me an example–who won the “strangest song” contest last year, & what was their offering?

      Because this sounds like a Sey Family Tradition in the making. My kids are going to be so happy…

  • flchen1 says:

    Happy birthday, Susan! Hope the fair was delicious today also! I think eating my way through a birthday would be great fun 🙂 Along with a lot of good reading!

    • Susan Sey says:

      You’re my kind of girl, Fedora! Eating, reading, maybe a movie or a nap…yeah, I’m just *that* wild & crazy. But I’ve found my people & we’re happy. 🙂