We see that you have javascript disabled. Please enable javascript and refresh the page to continue reading local news. If you feel you have received this message in error, please contact the customer support team at 1-833-248-7801.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

It's Karen's Turn column: A fabulous time in the Twin Cities

The following is an opinion column written by an Echo Press editorial staff member. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Echo Press.

Our turn
優太丸 木戸 - stock.adobe.c
We are part of The Trust Project.

Ah, the Twin Cities! Don’t we Greater Minnesotans love to hate them! The woke activists. The riots. The homelessness. The crime. In recent years we have gaped at news reports of Minneapolis burning, of tent camps, of a long spate of carjackings. Why, half the time, doesn’t it seem like Minneapolis and St. Paul are failed cities?

As a long-time newspaper reporter, let me tell ya — there’s a lot more to a place than what makes the news.

Last weekend my husband, our 9-year-old son, and I got up early and drove a couple of hours to the County Road 72 Park & Ride in Minnetonka, where we caught a bus to the Minnesota State Fair. The bus was packed, with people standing in the aisles. It was a beautiful day. Everybody was in a great mood. They were going to the fair!

For much of the bus ride, I talked to a couple of ladies seated behind me. They were so darn nice, the kind of women you might run into at the Chatterbox Cafe in Lake Wobegon. By the time we got off the bus, they almost felt like extended family.

The fairgrounds was nearly as crowded as the bus, like 2.2 people per square meter. In such close quarters, you couldn’t help but bump into people, but everybody was so nice when you did, as long as you didn’t knock over their cheese curds. I didn't, thank heavens.

ADVERTISEMENT

People courteously let others go ahead of them, often with a pleasant look and a slight “after you, madame” gesture.

A lady overheard me lamenting that I hadn’t thought to bring sunscreen on that sunny day, and she pulled a bottle out of her purse and shared it with us.

“She’s a teacher,” explained one of her companions as we slathered it on our cheeks and necks.

There were all kinds of people at the Great Minnesota Get-Together. Skin color of all shades. Elderly in wheelchairs. Babies in strollers. Guys who’d shaved their heads except for a hank they twisted into a ponytail. People of indeterminate gender. People wearing paper animal ears from the Moo Booth or the Oink Booth. Obese people riding scooters. A painfully thin gray-bearded man with bare feet. A mom screaming at her son because he was too scared to climb all the way up the Giant Slide. A quintet of black women with fantastic long braids that swung when they walked. People wearing masks. People without masks. Muslim women in hijabs. Women from a Christian sect wearing head scarves. All of us flawed. All of us beautiful. Most of us with glee on our faces because WE WERE AT THE FAIR!

In line at Ye Olde Mill, a pair of young girls told a middle-aged man that he had dropped something. He looked down and realized it was cash, bills that could have floated away or gotten thieved away. The girls didn’t have to tell him. But they did. They were kind. Maybe they’ll grow up to be like the ladies behind me on the bus.

You can’t run a 12-day fair without having mad governance skills. And everything worked. The toilets flushed. Vendors swiftly swapped food for cash. Lines hurried along. There had been a shooting the night before at the fair — one person was injured — and security was tight, but I felt safe. I felt great. We were all Minnesotans together, on a beautiful sunny day at the fair.

OurTurn Karen.jpg
The author (wearing paper pig's ears), her husband and son at the Minnesota State Fair. (Karen Tolkkinen / Echo Press)

“It’s Our Turn” is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.

What to read next
Sept. 4 comes and goes with a blur for many. For me there are three dates: Sept. 4, 1863; Sept. 4, 2016, and Sept. 4, 2022. This is really about the Indian Wars, which continue. I think it’s time to end the Indian Wars. It’s also time to understand that forensic facts, are not “critical race theory,” they are what happened. As school begins, let us ensure that history is taught, and that we make good choices today.
Election administrators and judges are part of the community. We are your neighbors and co-workers, people you see at church on Sunday or in line at the grocery store. I believe I speak for all election officials when I say we are honest citizens who want to serve our community to the best of our ability.
"I know 125 years isn't a long time in the whole scope of human history, but it's pretty impressive for this part of the world. What's more impressive to me is that the town hasn't just stayed alive but has recently found new and interesting ways to stay lively."
“Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray.” Say thank you to those mentors who shaped who you are today.