"It's fun in general to be at the fair, but visiting with the alums is always a neat experience."
Mankato eateries haven't taken the plunge and set up at the fair. No Pagliai's Pizza or Wagon Wheel Cafe stands.
There are, however, a couple of opportunities to imbibe some southern Minnesota flavor.
The August Schell Brewery in New Ulm has a presence and the Kemp's state fair booth will be offering visitors an ice cream flavor inspired by a Mankatoan. Amy Jordan's suggestion — "Funnel Cake A-Fair" — was among more than 260 flavors submitted in the Hometown Favorites contest, but one of just three finalists.
Fairgoers can taste "Funnel Cake A-Fair" and the other finalists and then vote. Kemps will mass produce the winning flavor for sale in supermarkets.
High school marching bands from New Ulm and Waseca are slated to march in the State Fair parade this year. Mankato-based old-time band Kris and the Riverbend Dutchmen will be performing at the International Bazaar. And fairgoers will also be able to hear a North Mankato voice in this year's MSF Amateur Talent Contest.
Joey Booker, a West High School graduate, will perform Michael Buble's "Home" at the Leinie Lodge Bandshell on Sunday night.
"This is my second time," said Booker, who needed a top finish at a local fair to advance to the semifinals in St. Paul, which he also did in 2011.
While the show is for amateurs, the competition is impressive, the sound equipment and technicians are top notch and the crowds are big, said Booker.
"There's so many talented people there," he said. "I'd love to win, but that's not my main goal ... . I love to sing and hopefully be able to touch people's hearts when I do sing. That's why I do it every time."