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FALCON HEIGHTS, MN - AUGUST 22: A corndog fan posed with a meal that matched her shirt during the fi...
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Time To Log Off

The biggest political controversy right now is state fair season

Time to Log Off is a weekly series documenting the many ways our political figures show their whole asses online.

Today marks the opening of the Minnesota State Fair — a momentous annual occasion for adventurous gormandizers and barnyard enthusiasts and dairy addicts alike. For those of you who know what I’m talking about, a hearty “ope, didn’t see ya there!” to you. And for those of you who are baffled over all the excitement, allow me to explain.

Unlike just about every other state fair in the country, the “Great Minnesota Get-Together” is genuinely a big deal, with hundreds of thousands of visitors crowding into the St. Paul suburb of Falcon Heights each day, dumping tens of millions of dollars into a week and a half of excessively greasy food (often on a stick), big name concerts, and other assorted novelties. If your concept of a state fair is just a bunch of run down Midway rides clanking away in a parking lot, experiencing the Minnesota version is like that bit in The Wizard of Oz where things go from black and white to technicolor. (Incidentally, today is the anniversary of that movie’s premiere too.) As someone whose childhood memories are inextricably tied to going to the state fair every summer, I take its honor very seriously.

I mention all this because one of the best ancillary(ish) parts of state fair season is how absolutely swollen-head huffy people (myself included) get about the whole thing. Forget your sports rivalries and petty culinary squabbles; if you really want to see folks get extremely worked up over a matter of mildly important civic pride, look no further than state fairs, and specifically, high-profile Minnesotans talking absolute shit about their regional neighbors.

Take it away, Gov. Tim Walz:

I always appreciate Iowa kind of doing a little warm up, like the minor league state fair, so Minnesota can bring in the major leagues.

On an objective, data-driven level, this is 100% true. Numbers for both fairs in 2019 — their last normal, pre-COVID years of operation — show Minnesota doubling Iowa’s “record crushing” attendance rate. And in a purely spiteful, “neener neener neener” sort of way, Walz’s dig is even better because it embodies the classic, and frequently misunderstood, ethos of “Minnesota nice,” which is actually just being incredibly mean, but with a smile. Does Iowa even know it’s being made fun of here? Unclear.

The shit-talking didn’t end with Walz. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar got in on the action too, returning once more to her all-time-favorite bullying muse, Pete Buttigieg, a man she seems to sincerely and genuinely despise.

Telling local news outlet WCCO that the transportation secretary will be visiting the fair, Klobuchar explained, “He’s from Indiana, he thinks he’s seen everything, but he hasn’t seen the Minnesota State Fair, which is the biggest state fair in the country.”

“I will be bringing him to the butter carving,” she added. (Other state fairs have butter carvings too, but to the best of my knowledge, nowhere else does the carve-ee then bring their dairy doppelganger home with them to eat.)

Now, there are a few significant caveats to Klobuchar’s apparent love for browbeating Mayor Pete. First and foremost, she herself is hardly the Minnesota State Fair champion she would have you believe, having cowardly refused to state the objective fact that the Minnesota fair is by every practical measure better than its Iowa cousin in 2019, when she was busy courting the corn state for its caucus voters. As for Indiana, there is a tragic casualty rate marring its event.

Nevertheless, when it comes to asserting Midwestern dominance, there are no holds barred. And if anyone is in a position to twist the knife, it’s well-documented mean girl Klobuchar. Mayor Pete, meanwhile, responded with this ... whole ... thing.

Well, buddy. You gave it a good try.

Which is all to say that even I’ve fallen prey to the very cycle of Midwestern one-upsmanship and state fair comparisons I originally set out to mock. It’s an inescapable, and inescapably embarrassing, fact of life in these waning days of summer. And now that I’ve acknowledged that, I think it’s time for me, Mayor Pete, and every elected official who is spending precious time arguing about who has bigger pigs and better butter instead of doing anything even marginally productive with their day to simply log off for a while.