The Great Minnesota Get-Together a.k.a. The Minnesota State Fair is a colossal cheese curd-spewing, bacon-binging, All-American behemoth unlike anything you’ve ever seen. It’s the country’s largest state fair by daily attendance: In 2014, 1.8 million tickets were sold in a state where only 5.47 million people reside. It is massive. Held on the same grounds since 1885, traditions at the Minnesota State Fair run deep and are often passed down through generations. One such tradition is breakfast. “It’s … specific to the start of the day, connecting with [the ones you love] before you go off to do your own thing," says St. Paul native and fair veteran Alicia Hinze. Hinze is somewhat of a breakfast evangelist. After winning Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, she opened The Buttered Tin in St. Paul, a pastry-filled confectionary with a full breakfast menu. “Breakfast is very different in Minnesota than it is … around the world. We come from a very agricultural society, so you have a lot of meat,” she says. “That’s what makes breakfast so much heartier in Minnesota, and by hearty I mean large.”
Over the years, the nature of the fair shifted to be less about its agrarian roots and more about the fair’s off-the-wall food concoctions. This year’s menu includes Spam sushi, fried chicken and gravy in a waffle cone, and a breakfast-inspired Juicy Lucy, made by cooking cheese inside a hunk of breakfast sausage. Of course, if these offerings prove too ambitious you can always swing by fair stalwart Big Fat Bacon and grab the tried-and-true bacon on a stick, smothered in chocolate sauce.