Makers of MN

The Minnesota State Fair (August 23-September 3 Labor Day) has everything from crafts, art, music, farm animals, food, and the Midway. This year I am really excited to partner with Arc’s Value Village and The Minnesota Pollution Control agency to bring you a live edition of my podcast, The Makers of Minnesota, from the Eco Experience on Thursday, August 23rd from 5:30-7:30. We will be featuring two makers including Julia Moss from Julia Moss Designs and Patrick Stinnett from Robinwood Reclaim. Both makers create home furnishings that are spectacular looking from re-useable materials.

Robinwood Reclaim



Julia Moss Designs


I became interested in makers from interacting with food makers on my radio show at My Talk 1071 called Weekly Dish, Saturdays from 9-11am. The show is co-hosted by Minneapolis St Paul Magazine Food Editor Stephanie March, and naturally, we cover all things State Fair Foods!



I have lived in St Paul for over 25 years and visited the fair usually 4-8 times a season. The food at the fair is where it is at for me. There are the classics like cheese curds, pronto pups, Martha’s cookies and the French fry booth. And there are always the new fair foods, and I always try as many as my stomach allows. More recently there are over 27 new craft beer and ciders!


Here are some classics and new fair foods that are must-haves on my list:


The Gizmo:

West Side of Cooper Street between Murphy & Lee Avenues


What’s a gizmo you ask? The Gizmo harkens back to the 1920’s loose meat sandwich, and it is oooey, gooey and delicious. The Gizmo is made of beef and pork in a hoagie bun, topped with red sauce, mozzarella cheese, and baked. I love the Gizmo and make it one of my first fair stops every season.


Midway Men’s Club Hamburger:

East side of Underwood between Wright and Dan Patch Avenue


The Midway Men’s club has been serving the coldest beer and the cheapest hamburgers since 1963. This no-frills burger will set you back $2.50, then add cheese for an extra fifty cents, and you have a fair stalwart served by the friendliest folks on the Midway. The club has given back thousands of dollars to their community for St Paul Youth programs.


Harry Singh’s Roti and Jamaican Jerk Patties:

Food Building – Easy Wall


Each year I make it to Harry Singh’s Caribbean stall to pick up some of his wonderfully hot (in the lips burning kind of way) hot habanero sauce. If you’re brave and cook with habaneros on a semi-regular basis, check out the sauce that marries a volcanic kick with the sweetness of Caribbean fruit. Also try their Jamaican patties which are flattened, meat-filled croissants, or the Roti—a burrito made with a chickpea flour tortilla and filled with potatoes and chickpeas in curry gravy.


New foods are always what gets everyone’s attention at the Fair, and this year there are some standouts to look for:


Blue Barn – Swedish Meatball Smörgås (pronounced SMORE-gus):

West End Market, South of the History and Heritage Center


Earlier this year we had the chance to try this tasty meatball sandwich with three traditional Swedish pork and beef meatballs topped with white gravy, lingonberry sauce, and dill pickles. It sounds crazy, but it really works to bring home a taste of a Minnesota Holiday Meal but… in a sandwich. Don’t miss their second new food entry the Bacon Stuffed Tots with sour cream and candied bacon. It seems like with all these flavors it might be a bit much, but it all worked together perfectly and was one of my favorite dishes I tried.


Sara’s Tipsy Pies – Cranberry Orange Pie:

Food Building, South Wall


What’s flaky and delicious and new this year? Sara’s Tipsy Pies partnership with Minnesota Vodka Maker 5 On Ice Cranberry Orange Vodka. Last year Sara knocked it out of the park with her Brown Ale and Onion Gouda Tipsy Pie, so I expect this will be no different. This pie follows in the tradition of Sara’s other pies which are free of trans fats and hydrogenated oils and loaded with the goodness of a homemade hand pie, albeit a bit boozy. This collaboration is genuinely Minnesota Made.


Rainbow Cloud Roll at Rainbow Ice Cream:

Grandstand, Upper Level, East Section


It is not enough to have a bowl of vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce anymore. You must have that ice cream piled high with glitter, cereal and colorful sprinkles and toppings. This is three scoops of ice cream nestled on a bed of cotton candy with you guessed it cereal! This is going to be an Instagram worthy crowd pleaser!


Mama D’s BBQ Split:

Midtown Global Market in the International Bazaar


When you think of Southern food does a paper boat full of pulled pork, mac and cheese and coleslaw pop into your head? If so you will love Mama D’s pile of cheesy, creamy, spicy goodness all side by side in a modern day Foodie-Split.


Now the beer and ciders that are becoming as popular to try as the new fair foods:


The Ballpark Café’s Craft Beers:

Ball Park Café, east side of Underwood Street between Dan Patch and Carnes Avenues


This fun little spot—a place to see and be seen—is becoming a mecca for craft beers lovers on the fairgrounds. Each year they form partnerships with local breweries to bring us new and tasty beers filled with their fair share of PT Barnum “stunt-worthiness.” This year look for:


Lift Bridge Mini Donut Beer.

This beer is reminiscent of a fresh State Fair mini donut and is back for another year due to its tremendous popularity. Sweet, rich and malty, each glass is served rimmed with cinnamon sugar to enhance the aroma as you lift this beauty to your lips.


Sweet land Orchard Minnesota Mule Cider.

A play on the “Moscow Mule” cocktail, this gluten-free cider starts with fresh, Minnesota-grown apples and is transformed by adding shand squeezed lime and ginger. The result is a little spicy, appley, and citrusy which adds up to a real thirst quencher.


Excelsior Brewing Company “S’Mores Beer.”

This chocolate-infused beer at Giggles Campfire Grill uses an old English recipe with a hint of chocolate, smoke, and rye. Each glass is rimmed with chocolate, dipped in crushed graham crackers and topped off with a fluffy marshmallow.




Stephanie Hansen is the host of Makers of MN Podcast and The Weekly Dish and can be contacted through her website