James Lileks
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Every year it seems necessary to state the obvious: It's OK if you don't go to the State Fair. It's OK if you don't even like it. We recommend that you leave the state by any of its conveniently marked exits, but it's OK.

Kidding. About the leaving part, that is. It's perfectly understandable if you don't go to the fair, and even though I go to the fair multiple times each year, let me show you how ecumenical I am by making your case.

Use these guides to explore the fair

It's a lot of work to get there. Of course, you can say the same thing about Paris, or even "upstairs" if you're tired. But, yes, it's a bother. Drive to the lot, wait for the bus, bump along the route, stand in a ticket line that starts in the Rosedale parking lot.

In 100 years, people probably will arrive by "Star Trek" transporter beam, but people still will complain. "There were 10 people in line. You have to stand still. The guy at the controls took like forever to engage the dematerializing beam."

It's the people. Not everyone enjoys being around that many people. They think: "If I must share space with those ... humans, I prefer someone in my book club with whom I can discuss Proust, not a guy who's got a beer and a bucket of cookies at 10 a.m. and has a T-shirt that says 'Surprise! I'm drunk!'" (It is not, in fact, a surprise.)

That's a bit elitist, don't you think? If it was red wine and a container of madeleines, and the fellow was having an early-morning Proustian reverie, fading off as he recalled fairs long past, would you be so critical?

I like being around all sorts, because it hones our fine Minnesota instinct to silently judge. You could stay home and make up people in your head to judge, but let's be frank: You probably need some new material.

It's hot and humid. Except when it's cold and drizzly. Either problem can be fixed by ice cream or a hot cup of coffee, so this isn't really a good excuse unless you must exist within a very narrow band of temperatures, in which case you are possibly a virus and should not go to the fair at all.

I don't like rides. I'm with you. Except for the Tilt-A-Whirl, in which case, if you're with me, we're going to go around so fast our faces ripple with G-forces. But it's fun to watch the rides. If you bring a catcher's mitt, you can nab a cellphone flying at your head at 75 mph because a greasy-pawed TikToker couldn't hold on.

I'm not interested in the barns. The cows are asleep, the sheep are annoyed, the chickens are neurotic, and the enormous, inert, prizewinning hog looks like it's digesting a family of five. But there's something to be said for getting in touch with nature, and then scraping it off your shoe.

It's expensive. A ticket is $18, or $16 if you're under 13 or over 65. That's not far off from a movie ticket. A movie lasts two hours — well, four, if you include the trailers — and you cannot interact with it. Halfway through you have to use the bathroom, and you miss out on a key plot point. A visit to the fair can last all day, and no one has ever missed a plot point at the fair because they used the bathroom.

That said, it's still OK to not like the fair. You're still a Minnesotan in good standing. Also, the definition of "good standing" is "being in line for a corn dog, which you'll call a Pronto Pup."