Minnesota State Fair
Saint Paul, MN«archive page
TR: A dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets, but on the twelfth floor of the Acme Building, one man is still trying to find the answers to life’s persistent questions……Guy Noir, Private Eye.
GK: It was the end of August and I was working the State Fair. School had started so there weren’t so many kids at the Fair and the Midway was packed with old people on the rides (GEEZER WHEEEE as FERRIS WHEEL TURNS) and old people in the beer gardens (SFX) -----
SS (OLD): One more cold one and then back to the Tilt-A-Whirl and blow our minds----
TR (OLD): Remember hallucinogens? Remember Grateful Dead concerts?
SS (OLD): Sure do, Pops.
TR (OLD): Bob Dylan’s performing tonight at the Hippodrome.
SS (OLD): Remember Bob Dylan, sonny?
FN (TEEN): Wasn’t he in the Sixties?
SS (OLD): Oh boy. Old age. It’ll happen to you too.
FN (TEEN): U2 is performing tonight?
SS (OLD): No, Bob Dylan.
FN (TEEN): Who?
TR (OLD): The Who is performing tonight? Wow. Far out. (STING, BRIDGE)
GK: I work the Fair every year, some years looking for overage 4-Hers, or nabbing bogus Veg-E-Matics that don’t mince and chop as advertised, and this year I was doing surveillance of Fair contests, on the lookout for dishonest judges. There had been a lot of controversy.
TR (P.A.): Will the contestants for the final round of judging in the rooster category please take the ring-----
TK: ROOSTER CROW
FN: ROOSTER CROW
TR (P.A.): And the purple ribbon goes to----
TK: What???? You’ve gotta be kidding!!!!
FN: Get over it.
TK: This puny low down egg-sucking two-bit, bush-league, bird-brained rooster beat out my bird Buckdancer’s Triumph???? Yer blind!!!! (ANGRY SHOUTS, BOOING) (BRIDGE)
GK: Contests that used to be calm and orderly turned into slugfests---- bitter recriminations-----
SS: My blueberry pie takes second place to THIS??? This piece of garbage??? Flies are coming to this pie to commit suicide! You wouldn’t know a champion pie if it hit you in the face!!!! (SHE THROWS, SPLAT. SPLORTS. SHOUTS)
FN: This is what you call crocheting???? This isn’t crocheting, this is ------ look at the cross-stitching!!!!!! It’s a mess!!!!! A three-year-old child could’ve done better!!! (STING, BRIDGE)
SS (FLEXNER): I’m Joanne Flexner, Mr. Noir, I’m the head of State Fair competitions, and we’re having very serious problems this year. People are simply not accepting the decisions of the judges the way they used to. We never used to have this much turmoil at our contests.
GK: Yes, I see that----
TK: The yellow ribbon for third-place in the log-cutting contest goes to Yogi Yorgeson of Biwabik----
TR: ME???? THIRD PLACE???? THAT’S RIDICULOUS!!!! AND THAT MEANS THAT THIS CLOWN HERE GETS FIRST???
FN: Just settle down, fellow.
TR: How about I settle YOU down---- (HE WINDS UP, PUNCH. FN ARGHHHH.)
TK: Please. Gentlemen-----
FN: Only one way to settle this. And that’s with chainsaws. (CHAINSAW, THEN SECOND CHAINSAW. THEY DUEL, FADE UNDER BRIDGE)
SS (FLEXNER): Something is terribly wrong with our judging, Mr. Noir. Can you help?
GK: Well, are you using the same judges as last year?
SS (FLEXNER): No, the judges’ union asked for a pay increase and we said no and so we’re using temp workers.
GK: Uh huh. So how did you find them?
SS (FLEXNER): Well, it was at the last minute and we had to find people in a big hurry and there was a big Lutheran convention in town ----
GK: You didn’t----
SS (FLEXNER): We did. They’re good people. Honest, hard-working-----
GK: Lutherans are honest and hard-working. But they’re no good at judging.
SS (FLEXNER): Why not?
GK: It’s in Scripture. “The last shall be first and the first last”----- Lutherans are not a judging people. -----
SS (FLEXNER): I don’t understand. (STING, BRIDGE)
GK: It was easy to spot them. Hefty, pleasant people---- (TR: Hey there. How’s it goin?) ---- and they were happy to be judges, and trying to correct the injustices of the world through gifts of God’s grace. In other words, penalizing the gifted, and giving to the needy.
SS (MINN): Okay then. Our first prize in the piano competition to Ricky Borman. (CLUMSY RENDITION OF BACH TWO-PART INVENTION) Very nice, Ricky. And second prize to Randy Rickets. (VERY HESITANT CHOPIN ETUDE). Good for you, Randy. And an honorable mention to Doris Richards. (FAST VIRTUOSIC).
GK: I went to the animal barns. Same thing. Elderly chickens (SFX) winning against younger stronger healthier ones (SFX). A field of blue-ribbon Holsteins lost the Cow of the Year contest to a cow with a bad limp and the hiccups (SFX). The winning goose had no right wing (HONK). ----- Sir? Mr. Evenson?
TR (MINN): Yah?
GK: We have some concerns about your judging, sir.
TR (MINN): Oh? What’s that?
GK: You’re giving prizes to losers. That’s not right.
TR (MINN): Well----- “losers” ----- that’s a pretty harsh thing to say.
GK: Okay, but look at these chickens-----
TR (MINN): There are no “losers” here.
GK: This champion chicken is a loser. (CROAKING)
TR (MINN): God loves this chicken just as much as He loves those bigger chickens.
GK: This is a poor excuse for a chicken.
TR (MINN): This chicken never won a prize before in its life. This was its last chance. And I looked at those other chickens and there was this Look At Me Show-Offy attitude ----- high-stepping around, beaks up in the air ----- no way I’m going to reward that kind of attitude.
GK: I talked to judges all around the Fair and they all felt that they were there to make the world right for the under-privileged.
SS: Okay, so maybe she’s not the best bagpiper, but I just liked the way she went at it (BAGPIPE PLAYING “A MIGHTY FORTRESS”) ----- such a cheerful person ----- and you should’ve seen her face when she won first prize. It was such a blessing.
GK: There was no point in trying to argue with these people. Lutherans don’t change their minds. So I just relaxed and enjoyed the Fair and entered the cheese-curd eating contest and did pretty well and then worked Security at the Grandstand show. I stood down front to keep people from rushing the stage and they looked too old to cause trouble, the only rush was for the toilets at intermission. Mr. Dylan was trying to appeal to a younger crowd, but I don’t know----
TR (DYLAN): (SINGS) The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round, the wheels on the bus go round and round……
GK: I sort of like his old songs better, but who am I to judge? I’m no better than anybody else.
TR (DYLAN): (SINGS) The old gray mare she ain’t what she used to be, ain’t what she used to be ain’t what she used to be----- (CONTINUE UNDER) the old gray mare she ain’t what she used to be, many long years ago.
GK: And that’s the Fair. The words change but the melody stays the same. Old people come because it’s the one constant in their lives.
SS (OLD): Remember when we used to come to the Horticulture Building and look at the flower show?
FN (OLD): Right----
SS (OLD): Don’t have so many flowers this year because the beetles are so bad.
FN (OLD): The Beatles? Here at the Fair?
SS (OLD): The beetles are worse now than ever----
FN (OLD): Well, we’re none of us getting younger.
SS (OLD): What???
TR: A dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets but on the 12th floor of the Acme Building, one man is still trying to find the answers to life’s persistent questions……Guy Noir, Private Eye. (THEME OUT)
Lovingly selected from the earliest archives of A Prairie Home Companion, this heirloom collection represents the music from earliest years of the now legendary show: 1974–1976. With songs and tunes from jazz pianist Butch Thompson, mandolin maestro Peter Ostroushko, Dakota Dave Hull and the first house band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band (Adam Granger, Bob Douglas and Mary DuShane).