Josh Duhamel was making the rounds at the Minnesota State Fair, hyping his upcoming CBS game show, when a voice stopped him in his tracks.
The actor, best known for his "Transformers" movies and once being married to Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas, spun around.
"You're from North Dakota?" he bellowed back.
"No," said the exuberant stranger. "But you are."
The fan most likely recognized the Minot native from TV commercials he's done for the North Dakota tourism agency for over a decade. Duhamel is all too happy to boast about his childhood home. He has fond memories of attending the North Dakota State Fair, where he saw his first concert, Huey Lewis and the News. The band had just released its break-through album, "Sports."
"They were the biggest thing in music at the time," Duhamel said Tuesday while cooling down in the WCCO-TV tent. "People went absolutely crazy. They had to spray people with fire hoses. Huey went on 'The Tonight Show' a couple months later and Johnny Carson asked him what his favorite place has been to play. He mentioned that show."
But the 50-year-old actor can also claim to be a Minnesotan. He's owned property near Detroit Lakes for 15 years. It's at that cabin compound where he has often welcomed childhood buddies for weekends of silly challenges that could have been cooked up at a frat party.
In fact, Duhamel had originally hoped to film "Buddy Games," the new CBS reality-competition series based on those get-togethers, somewhere in that same area. Instead, the monthlong shoot took place in the South American country of Colombia, where production costs were considerably cheaper.
"Believe it or not, once you get out a little out of Bogota, it looks just like Minnesota," said Duhamel, sporting a Twins cap and a salt-and-pepper beard.
The show, premiering at 8 p.m. Sept. 14 on CBS, features six teams of lifelong friends competing in a goofier version of "Survivor." Being able to sink a bean bag in a cornhole is more valuable than making fire in under two minutes.
Part of the new show's appeal is watching Duhamel embrace his role as camp counselor.
He rolls in the mud just like the contestants, tools around on a bicycle designed for a grade schooler and kicks off events by blasting a bugle, which he swears is a nod to the call to battle at Vikings games.
He even brought the horn to the fair and blasted a few obscene notes in the WCCO tent, amusing Erin Hassanzadeh and Mike Augustyniak as they prepared for their afternoon broadcast.
"He's the quintessential host for something like this," said Bob Schwartz, who grew up in Minot with Duhamel and now runs a software company in Lake Elmo. Schwartz came up with most of the ideas for the TV games, but it's his famous friend that brings the energy. "He's more vibrant than the people you usually see do something like this."
That boyish enthusiasm was on display as he worked the crowd, taking full advantage of his first visit to the Minnesota State Fair. He played Skee-Ball, slipped on a KS95 radio station T-shirt and shared a pickle lemonade with Fargo-born model Audra Mari, whom he married last September.
He posed for selfies with fans who recognized him from his many projects, which include "All My Children" and "Las Vegas," the 2003-08 NBC series that co-starred James Caan.
Duhamel said he learned a lot from the Oscar-nominated actor, who died last year.
"Every time I was in a scene and I wasn't as good as he thought I could have been, he would be all over me and give me notes," he said. "It was embarrassing because he'd do it in front of everyone, but it helped me tremendously. I was pretty green back then."
Duhamel seemed to enjoy his time at the fair — except for when he sampled a crispy lutefisk steam bun and concluded that there wasn't enough lutefisk. But he seemed even more excited about the fact that he'd be heading to his Minnesota cabin the following day.
"That's my happy place," he said.