Along with myriad new foods, a sprawling midway filled with rides and opportunities galore to pet farm critters, the Minnesota State Fair offers visitors the chance to have meet-and-greets with both state and national politicians. This year is no different.

As the gates of the 2019 edition of the Minnesota State Fair opened, the state’s two Democratic U.S. Senators – Amy Klobuchar, who is running for President, and Tina Smith, whose bid for reelection will face a challenge from former Republican Congressman Jason Lewis – greeted fairgoers.

At the Republican Party’s booth, Lewis declared, “The U.S. Senate is the last firewall for freedom.” So he’s running again after Democratic Congresswoman Angie Craig beat him in the 2nd Congressional District, which has a mix of suburban, exurban and rural residents. Lewis is also a former radio talk show host with a significant following and name recognition.

Gov. Tim Walz also welcomed fairgoers waiting in line for the gates to open just before daybreak. “Look at this – a liberal and conservative getting along,” announced one man who posed for a photo with the DFL governor while waiting in line. With the promise of food and fun awaiting eager attendees, everyone seemed to push partisanship aside in a spirit of “let’s just get along.”

The Governor’s first stop was the Minnesota Farmers Union Cafe, which is famous for its local food offerings. “I understand the BLT has a twist to it this year?” Walz inquired to Farmers Union President Gary Wertich, who informed the state’s top elected official that a fresh, runny egg now sits atop what was the hot new fair food item last year.

Star Tribune food critic Rick Nelson wrote, “The only three words more powerful than ‘I love you’ are ‘Add an egg’ right? How do you improve this seemingly unimproveable, Hall of Fame-bound BLT? By inserting a fried egg into the proceedings, and letting its runny yolk spread across all of that bacon, tomato and sweet corn goodness.”

Gov. Walz declared that the sandwich was, indeed, that good. Between messy bites of gooey goodness, we got to talk about the former member of Congress’s first State Fair holding the highest office in the state. “It is a transition, [and a] real sense of pride goes with it. Welcoming folks coming through the line is part of what my job is,” he says. “Last year, it was ‘Hi I’m Tim from Mankato, I’m running for Governor.’ This year, it’s ‘Welcome to the fair.’ It feels a little different, it’s that transition to the job.”

Want more coverage of politics at the “Great Minnesota Get-Together”? If you’re at the State Fair on Friday, August 30, stop by the Twin Cities PBS booth at the corner of Underwood and Lee at 11 am to watch a live taping of Almanac. The show will also air on TPT2 at 7 pm.

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On Friday, August 23, Almanac was filmed live at the MPR booth – and you can stream the show, which featured a political discussion, a crowd sing-along, a story from Kevin Kling, a conversation about Minnesota weather and a lamb named Coconut.

You can never, ever have too much Minnesota State Fair in your life, so why not step back to the year 1992 and meet some memorable “State Fair People.”

In recent years, the Black Lives Movement has had a strong presence at the Minnesota State Fair – and yet, the “get-together” hasn’t always been “great” to African Americans throughout history. Discover more about “A Short History of African Americans at the Minnesota State Fair.”

For the past few years, Minnesota storyteller Kevin Kling has joined the Almanac crew to share a monologue about some of his favorite State Fair traditions. Find out why he and his brother still refer to one Midway ride as “The Return of the Corn Dog.”