For the first time since I was a young child, I will be going to the Wisconsin State Fair this weekend. I've always considered the Fair to be the second-rate cousin to SummerFest in terms of Milwaukee-based attractions, as SummerFest usually had a bunch of really cool bands to see and the Fair usually had the Beach Boys and the Turtles.
What's more, the Fairgrounds struck me as being rather worn down and kind of dumpy. Old, hot wooden building that didn't smell very good and made you feel kind of uncomfortable going into them. And then, of course, you had the security concerns. Who can forget Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett being attacked by hooligans that had just been thrown out of the Midway area a few years ago? It's not exactly the best advertising for your event when a guy making appearances around the state as a candidate for Governor has a big cast on his hand along with cuts and bruises on his face.
But this spring, I had the opportunity to check out the State Fair grounds again when I attended the Milwaukee Golf Show--and you could tell that the Fair organizers have put a great deal of money and effort into modernizing and upgrading the facilities. The buildings look much cleaner and the food stands are more presentable. New attendance and behavior policies have been put into place to take back the Midway area from the hoods that would take over after dark--and security has been ramped up to protect fairgoers.
The State Fair will never be a haven for big name entertainment on the Main Stage--tonight its a collection of 80's one-hit wonders that will each do short sets--but there is still enough acts to make a day there worthwhile. I'm looking forward to the "Beatles Sing Along" on one of the stages. And my wife wants to catch pig racing. Yes, we are getting old.
Interestingly, it is now SummerFest that we have not attended in a long time--as the last time we were there, I had beer spilled on me just four steps onto the grounds and a guy was stabbed near the stage where we were watching the DropKick Murphys. Add to that the increasingly terrible traffic patterns to get to downtown Milwaukee and a shorter trip to West Allis becomes more attractive.
I'm putting the over/under on cream puffs consumed this weekend at 3.5.