Certainly I’ve been to our own Washington State Fair, and the last few years I’ve even joined Urban Sketchers Tacoma there. But I have to say, our fair cannot hold even a 15-hour votive candle to Minnesota. One of the oldest and biggest state fairs in the country, the Minnesota State Fair is arguably the best.
Ever since I started reading Roz Stendahl’s blog several years ago, I’ve been fascinated with her passion for sketching at the Minnesota fair – and for the fair in general. I could see that she worked very hard to organize an annual outing for sketchers in the area – bringing together not just urban sketchers but art groups of all kinds. Every year her sketches of animals at the event and the sketches of other Twin Cities Urban Sketchers inspired me, and I became more and more determined to get to the fair again someday – this time with sketchbook in hand.
This summer the stars finally aligned, and we were able to make it to the fair again – and even better, I made it to the 8th Great Minnesota State Fair Sketchout!
I spent quite a bit of time wandering slowly through all the animal barns. The chickens were so colorful, and the bunnies were adorable, but I think I had the most fun sketching a broad-breasted bronze turkey. Constantly twitching, his bluish-pinkish head had a bizarre texture that was very challenging to capture. It was fascinating to watch that thing that normally hangs down over his mouth lift up when he ate or drank. Eyeing me intensely, the tom occasionally turned around to display his rear end.
|Broad-breasted bronze turkey|
In the Dairy building, I watched a demo of the Smart Masker Pro several times. This product would be 10 times faster than using an ordinary roll of masking tape, he assured us. Although he moved quickly, the demo guy made the same motions repeatedly, which made it easier to anticipate what his next gesture would be.
|Smart Masker Pro demo|
When the occasional drizzle dried up, I wandered around outside to capture the Sky Flyer ride (I stood on a bench to get above the crowds) and Fairchild, the fair gopher mascot, who is celebrating his 50th birthday this year.
|Fairchild, the fair's gopher mascot|
My only regret for the whole day was that I missed sketching Princess Kay of the Milky Way! Crowned during Minnesota fair pageantry, the princess and each of her court members has her likeness carved in a 90-pound block of butter. At a previous fair, I had seen one of the princesses sitting for her butter sculpture (crowned and bundled in a down parka because the sculpting occurs in a refrigerated chamber with glass walls for viewing), and that image was seared in my memory. Where else on earth would I have the opportunity to sketch someone being sculpted in butter? Unfortunately, the sculpting schedule isn’t published, so by the time I got to the Dairy building, the sculptor was done for the day. Oh, well – it gives me a new life goal.
|The Fair Sketchout sketchbook sharing!|
When the sketchers got together to share sketchbooks, I was delighted to meet Roz herself! After all these years of learning from her extremely informative (not to mention entertaining) blog, it was a thrill and honor to meet her in person. I was also happy to meet Ken and Roberta Avidor, two more Twin Cities urban sketchers whose work I follow. In addition, I was happily reunited with Amber Sausen and Daniel Green, whom I last saw at the Manchester symposium only a few weeks ago.
The single-best thing about Urban Sketchers is the amazing network it offers. Whether I travel around the globe or go to Minnesota, I can find sketchers to spend the day with. The Urban Sketchers world keeps getting smaller.
Many thanks to Marty Harris for organizing a fantastic Fair Sketchout! I can’t wait to get to another one!
|If you think that making all these sketches left me no time to eat|
lots of deep-fried foods, you would be wrong!