2009 Minnesota State Fair, Day 1

The Great Minnesota Get-Together of 2009 was a decidedly mixed bag. The good news: I continued my streak of breaking the previous year’s record in number of sightings. Last year’s 192 was bested by this year’s 206 sightings. I finally crashed the double-century threshold, even though it almost killed me getting there. My mom insisted on getting to the grounds even earlier than usual, so we arrived about 45 minutes earlier ahead of schedule. The additional morning time on my feet took its toll worse than usual by the time the late evening hours rolled around, leaving me hobbling around the grounds like a one-legged pirate for the last couple hours of the night. So my 206 sightings came with an hour more fair time than usual, but since that first hour was as marginal as usual, I would have broken the record anyway.

Now for the bad news….the sightings were the definition of bland for long stretches of the day. Clearly I’ve been spoiled by my last three visits to the Minnesota State Fair, which were my three best sightings days of all time. I scored SEVEN epic sightings on those three visits and scores of blockbusters. In 2009, there were zero epics, only a couple bona fide blockbusters, and a litany of frustrating missed opportunities. I would have preferred 106 sightings with genuinely memorable sightings moments than 206 sightings with only a handful worth getting excited about.

Also defining the “mixed bag” day was the weather. It was very cool in the morning and the forecast was sketchy and indeterminant. My worst fears didn’t play out, but things got miserable mid-afternoon and stayed that way. Until about 2:30 the bright sunshine made the cool conditions tolerable and downright comfortable. I was relieved to see a fair amount of tanktops and shorts on the female fairgoers despite the cool conditions. But the clouds came in and the wind picked up mid-afternoon and suddenly that 63-degree weather felt alot more real. Around 6 p.m. it was really starting to feel cold and I felt sorry for the shivering tanktop and shorts girls. Attendance was nonetheless strong but it was either my worst or second-worst weather day in my 24 visits to the Minnesota State Fair.

Anyway, let’s get onto the sightings….

As I said, we got there at 8:45 a.m., the time when the only smokers on the grounds are typically the parents and grandparents of families visiting. Some years these morning hours can be absolutely useless for sightings, but I did have my first memorable sighting of the day during the first half hour near the food building. Sighting #3 started out with my observing a rugged-looking 40ish couple both wielding cigarettes, but then I took note of the kids with them, including a 16ish brunette daughter. She had a somewhat alternative look with a lip ring (normally a total turnoff for me) but she was nonetheless cute with long dark hair flowing down her back. Lo and behold, she was carrying on the family tradition of smoking, publicly dragging from her cigarette in the early morning hours before crushing it out beneath her feet, which I would detect in passing was a Newport. Not a common cigarette brand here in the Midwest, so it was a joy to see a girl her age settling for only the highest nicotine and tar content in her smoke.

The sightings trickled in for the morning and the next one to impress was Sighting #7, a pretty girl that appeared to be of mixed Asian and white race sitting near the front gate smoking while waiting for a friend to leave the bathroom. She was very attractive and looked about 18 or 19 as she smoked her cork filter, and I found myself curious about her ethnic heritage as her features were only mildly Asian but she was clearly not 100% caucasian.

I think I stalled out at eight sightings for close to an hour before finally scoring Sighting #9 by the haunted mansion, a 21ish dark blonde in a tanktop walking the grounds with her boyfriend. She was modestly attractive but what set her apart was the cross tattoo on her upper back. Hot to ponder a young woman religious enough to get a cross tattoo yet still smokes.

Only a couple moments after this would come Sighting #10, my best sighting of the day. Walking towards busy Judson Avenue from the north was a cluster of two 19-20ish couples. Immediately drawing my attention was the attractive, sunglasses-donning brunette chick in the cluster, the only one smoking. And boy was she smoking. Rather than holding her cigarette at her side, she held it next to her face with a bent elbow as if she was sitting at the bar. She wore a green top and tight blue jeans that showcased her form nicely accentuated by the elbow-bent style with which she proudly held the all-white next to her pretty face. She was jubilant and bubbly as she talked to her nonsmoking friends (two guys and two girls) and when she took a drag, the windy air scattered it directly into the faces of the friends group who never complained when they got splashed in the face by their attractive friend’s pollution. Things really got hot when the foursome approached the entrance of the “International Bazaar”, a gathering that features live music and a cluster of international souvenir shops. Now there is no official smoking ban to my knowledge in this open air venue, but it’s just assumed that nobody would be obnoxious enough to smoke there in the sensitive, prima donna culture of 2009. But this girl was obnoxious and myopic enough to do just that, marching right past the entry gate with cigarette in hand.

The highlight of the sighting came when she stood behind the seating area and was followed in by a mother and her early teen daughter who stood behind her. My girl took a nice drag from her cigarette and thoughtlessly exhaled, allowing the strong north wind to splash smoke straight directly into the faces of mother and daughter. Both of them were waving the smoke out of their faces and then walked away with disgusted looks on their faces, while my girl stood there clueless the entire time about how badly she repulsed her fellow fairgoers. She and the nonsmoking female friend would then converse with one another for the duration of her cigarette before she dropped it to the pavement and crushed it out and then got in line for a beverage. I could tell even from my relatively distant vantage point that it was a Marlboro Light Menthol. Finally, a sighting worth feeling good about.

I left the International Bazaar and within seconds stumbled into Sighting #11, a modest late 20s blonde who was also part of two couples. I didn’t think much of it but when I saw the other modestly attractive plain jane late 20s gal in her cluster fishing around in her purse, I decided to stick around. I was definitely pleased that I did when instead of retrieving a cigarette she took out a Swisher Sweet little cigar. She sparked it up, becoming Sighting #12, and proceeded to carry on with a dangle that must have lasted no less than 90 seconds. Granted, I would have preferred she be a hottie rather than a plain jane, but she was still attractive enough to draw my interest dangling that smelly cigar from her lips. I followed the cluster briefly as they proceeded, always welcoming the opportunity to ingest cigar smoke exhaled from a young lady.

Next I would I wander towards the Space Tower and stumbled upon a family of smokers with two young daughters. The oldest daughter (Sighting #13) was prettier, looking about 19-20, brunette with a tight white T-shirt and jeans, with a freshly lit all-white. The younger daughter (Sighting #14) was also attractive but had a little bit more of a trashy look. The family, which included the parents and what I presume was a boyfriend, looked a little on the trashy side as a whole, so this sighting comes nowhere close to my epic family of smokers sighting from 2006, but was nonetheless a welcome event on a late morning where I finally seemed to be finding my stride.

But the sightings continued to be few and far between after that cluster of sightings. I always try to convince myself not to panic when the morning hours and early afternoon hours are unproductive, but at one point I had been at the fair for nearly four hours with only 18 sightings. Things were not going as well as I would have liked.

For a change of pace, I decided to head down the midway. The midway is rarely a productive location until evening, but I was grateful I decided to make an early afternoon jaunt that direction yesterday as I stumbled into a really cute underage dark blonde leaving the bathroom and strutting across the midway in a sexy white T-shirt and jean shorts. It looked from a distance like she had a cigarette in her hand so I sped up to get a closer look. Sure enough, there was the all-white protruding from the fingers of Sighting #20. She was walking very quickly, heading sideways through the midway and taking a couple of quick drags off of the cigarette that I only got to see from behind. I watched as a middle-aged couple seated on a bench watched her walk by, taking note of the cigarette in her underage hands and then whispering to each other when she walked past, most likely excoriating her stinky, criminal habit. But that’s when things went awry. She walked between two carnival stands and ascended a hill behind them, most likely to sneak the rest of her cigarette out of sight. I couldn’t very well follow her because nobody else was in this area and it would have been obvious what I was doing. Instead, I searched for the next opening between carnival stands to see if I could observe her from a distance, but I just kept walking past all those stands and they were all joined together. Nowhere within 100 yards was there another opening, so I never got to see anything more from her. A disappointing ending, but I’d still rate her among my five favorites of the day.

Venturing from the midway to the sightings-rich beer gardens area, I found Sightings #23, #24, and #25, a trio of decently attractive early 20s brunettes all relaxing on a smoke break. Nothing mind-blowing quality-wise, but it was nice to bolster those numbers with a three-for-the-price-of-one sightings.

Heading back to the main streets of the grounds, I stumble upon Sighting #26, another moderately attractive 20-something, this one a blonde in a pink shirt with a girl-next-door look, puffing away along with her boyfriend amidst a large cluster of nonsmoking friends. What made it noteworthy was their discussing with the nonsmokers what a hardship the state smoking ban is on them, and how they avoid bars in the winter months because they can’t tolerate standing outside in the winter to smoke. The nonsmokers were indulging the conversation, primarily discussed by the girl, about her nicotine dependency, which I found modestly arousing.

Mediocrity ensued into the early afternoon hours, but I finally hit double-barrel pay dirt with Sightings #31 and #32. Two different clusters stood in the median on the main street of the fairgrounds next to each other. Catching my eye first was the cluster that included Sighting #31, a dazzling and glamorous 21-ish long-haired dark blonde in a tanktop and tight jeans who was the only smoker in the group of three guys and three girls. FINALLY, a memorably pretty girl with a cigarette, I thought to myself. But right after spotting her and positioning myself to her right, I noticed on my side Sighting #32, a cute 15-ish blonde in a cluster of mid-teens. She and one other guy were the only smokers in the group of five or six. Not long after my arrival, the teen smoker girl and her posse began to leave, meaning I had a choice to make. Follow them or stick with the older girl who was much better looking. I opted to stay with the knockout older girl, standing off to the side watching her puff on that long, freshly lit all-white….

The cluster then began walking. The one good part about yesterday’s wind was that smokers’ exhales recklessly blew about, and her case was no exception as she could not avoid spewing those toxic carcinogens that flowed from her pretty face directly towards her nonsmoking friends. It was such a joy to admire her fantastic denim-clad ass as she strutted the grounds with that cigarette extending from her fingers. Unfortunately, they would stop in front of a food stand and it became very difficult for me to watch without getting spotted. Within a couple of moments, she crushed out the all-white (looked like a Marlboro Light) but stood there for the longest time with her friends. Still, I needed this sighting at this point in the day.

About a half hour later, I would get another worthwhile sighting in Sighting #38, which also involved a family of smokers. Near the DNR building, I saw a cigarette in the hands of a blonde who looked very young from a distance. I moved their direction and could tell she was indeed in the 15-16 age range, the youngest in what I presume was a family, all brandishing cigarettes. I didn’t see specifically what the older brother did to harass his nicotine-addicted kid sister, but she playfully rebuked him and was shouting mild obscenities at him as they slapped each other around a bit while both wielding cigarettes. The family appeared working-class, but not particularly trashy. The girl was cute but not a knockout, nonetheless getting some bonus points for being one of my few underage sightings of the day.

The two seating areas outside of the grandstand on both the west and east sides are typically one of my best locations for sightings every year. This year, they were less productive than usual, but I still scored a couple of good ones, including Sighting #41, an attractive girl-next-door-ish 18-19-year-old light brunette who was in the final throes of her cigarette sitting on the cement seating area with two guy friends. What I found most adorable about this sighting was that neither of the wholesome-looking guys in her company were smoking….they were just waiting around for girly to fill her lungs with nicotine and tar. I saw the last three drags before she crushed out her cork-filter and the three of them got up to leave. I moved to fill the seat they vacated and took the opportunity to check out her cigarette butt. Amazingly, it was another Newport. I hardly ever see Newports in these parts and those I do see smoking them tend to be fairly hard-core, alternative types. This girl didn’t fit that profile at all but was nonetheless smoking the highest-tar cigarette on the market.

From there, mediocrity continued to unfold with modest sighting after modest sighting. Finally came a double-barrel college girl sighting with Sightings #53 and #54. I thought from a distance I saw a cigarette between young female fingers and headed that direction. Sure enough, two slightly above-average 19-20ish blondes were standing there with all-whites in their possession. I followed them as they proceeded for about a block or so, watching from behind as they took their drags and held their cigarettes by their side. It was a decent sighting but not blockbuster material. Still, I was happy to get it by that point in the day.

As the 4:00 hour arrived, I was slightly behind schedule but not alarmingly so. More alarming and disheartening was being mired in dark cloud cover by this point in the afternoon and even worrying about a rain storm blowing up at one point. Amazing how that cloud cover turned a once cool and comfortable afternoon into one chilly State Fair experience that would only get colder as the day pressed on. I tried to keep my morale up but it was tougher than usual given that I was having my tamest day at the Minnesota State Fair since at least 2005.

Finally, a glimmer of light emerged near the Space Tower where I spotted Sighting #61, a genuinely gorgeous 18ish blonde with long hair flowing down her back, a plaid blouse, and a pair of blue denim capris that perfectly wrapped around her tight feminine figure. I had seen her on the grounds earlier that day and remembered what a hottie I had thought she was then. She was in the company of a Hispanic family including a dad, a girl about her age, and a younger son. She was definitely not Hispanic herself so I figured she must have been a family friend. The father and the blonde were the only smokers of the four. Unfortunately, I only got to see a couple of drags before she snuffed out the end of the cigarette on the pavement below, opened up her purse to retrieve the pack of Marlboro Menthol Lights, and inserted the remainder of the cigarette in the pack for later. That’s one of the cruelest side effects of today’s high-tax cigarettes. More and more, I see girls smoking only half of their cigarettes and saving the rest for later. I don’t recall seeing that before the last few years. Either way, it was still a desperately needed ray of hotness to encounter in a drab afternoon.

A few minutes later I was checking out that area near the grandstand again and saw a duo of late teen cuties just sparking themselves up and becoming Sightings #63 and #64. They were both attractive, but the cutest one, a short-haired brunette, was already a mother pushing around a baby sitter. Mommy attended to the child in the stroller and at one point beckoned her dark blonde friend to hold her cigarette for her. For a minute or so, the blonde sat there with a cigarette in each hand before passing the nicotine baton back to Mommy who would take it on home to the finish line.

It was late afternoon at this point and time for my second run through the midway. I scored a few modest sightings here and there but finally hit pay dirt with Sighting #69, a young, wholesome-looking couple about 21 years old standing near a carnival stand watching their friends on a ride. Never would I have expected either of these two to be smokers just seeing them on the street, but the cute college-age blonde wearing a feminine pink sweatshirt and nice-fitting blue jeans and her boyfriend nonetheless stood there sucking down their cigarettes. The girl was a very impressive smoker, with deep inhales and some spectacular hold times that approached the seven-second mark. She didn’t ooze smoke with every successive breath the way last year’s fantastic brunette grandstand worker did, but copious amounts of smoke nonetheless flowed from her mouth and nose when her lungs finally released them. As a testimony to how hard she was smoking that cigarette, she dropped the cork-filter to the pavement and crushed it out a good two minutes before her lighter-smoking boyfriend finished his. The friends soon exited off the ride and the smoking couple walked off to meet them. When I got around to leaving the scene, the pink-shirted girl smoker was taking a photo of her two friends who had just gotten off the ride. Definitely among my top-10 of the day.

I wandered to the sightings-rich beer garden block as I approached the end of the afternoon and the beginning of evening, knowing that that location and that time of day is typically the time period when things start to get crazy and the act of blinking will cost one five sightings. The area didn’t disappoint, particularly as I stumbled upon a trio of college-age girls. I first saw a cigarette in the hand of a modestly attractive blonde who became Sighting #75 but the brunette in the trio was not smoking. That left one remaining girl who I had to circle around to get a better look at. Hot damn if I didn’t stumble into Sighting #76. From what I could see of her face she was very attractive, but her outfit left an air of exciting mystery to this girl. As I said, it was getting very cold at this point and this girl chose to cover up her head in her gray hoodie, with only a few stray strands of her long blonde hair flowing from out of the hood. The kicker was that she was also wearing a pair of badass-looking sunglasses even though the sun was a distant memory at this point. And to top it all off, her bottom was covered by amazingly sexy jean shorts that wrapped around her wonderfully chiseled ass beautifully with her long legs jutting out from underneath. It was quite a contrast with her top half almost completely covered and her bottom half exposed to the world….

She looked incredibly cool dragging from her cigarette with the sunglasses and hoodie hiding her face Unabomber-style. At one level I would have loved to seen how pretty she was if she had removed the hoodie and the sunglasses, but on the other hand, the mysteriousness of her look coupled with the shades of beauty that were visible made her much more memorable. As she walked away with her two friends, she dropped the cigarette to the ground and I could tell in passing it was a Marlboro Light. As a bonus I walked past the line for the bathrooms a couple minutes later and saw my girl standing there looking as cool as ever in her hoodie and sunglasses waiting in line for the john, and hoped that the stench of tobacco clung to her enough that other women in line could smell she had just smoked a cigarette.

Just a couple of minutes later, I traversed uber-busy Judson Avenue which is literally elbow-to-elbow for several hours in the afternoon and early evening. Walking down Judson at this time of the day is almost certain to yield a dozen sightings. But last night, the first one I see would be the best of the bunch. Sighting #77 was a blonde early 20s stunner, hands-down the prettiest girl I would see all day with long, straight blonde hair, a perfect face and gleaming blue eyes that grabbed you and wouldn’t let go. She and what I presumed to be a boyfriend or husband stood there smoking along the curb amidst the company of two nonsmoking young women and another male-female couple. Her drags were intense and sexy, pushing all the right buttons in terms of hold time and cloudy combination nose-and-mouth exhales. Also in the mix was a young girl about three of four years old who the smoker hottie was engaging in conversation with the two nonsmoking women. It sure seemed as though the young girl was the blonde’s daughter, hard as it was to believe that this very young-looking and perfect-bodied hottie had a child….

As I said there was another couple not far behind them including a modestly attractive light brunette who was just lighting herself up as the group became mobile. While I was mostly focused on this amazingly beautiful blonde, the brunette certainly impressed me seconds after becoming Sighting #78 as she let that just-lit cigarette dangle from her nicotine-stained lips for a good 45 seconds. There are few things sexier than a long-lasting dangle from a young hottie. Still the blonde was so beautiful that I kept my focus on her as she proceeded towards the Coliseum. Eventually, she took her final drag from the cigarette and dropped it to the pavement without crushing it. In passing I could see it was one of those Camel Crushes where you have the option of going menthol or not but squeezing the butt to bleed menthol into the cigarette. Very heartwarming to see a girl this beautiful and this seemingly normal still smoking cigarettes in the year 2009.

I was at the edge of the midway about 10 minutes later when I scored Sighting #84, a very frustrating one involving an uber-sexy 21ish long-haired brunette in tight jeans and smooth sunglasses (what’s up with all these babes wearing sunglasses on a gloomy afternoon). She proudly brandished a cigarette between her fingers in the company of her nonsmoking female friend and I saw one drag from afar as I closed in for a closer look. That’s when things got infuriating. I must have stood there for three or four minutes waiting…and waiting…and waiting. The next drag never happened. She just stood there with that smoldering cigarette between her fingers, eventually greeting a guy apparently in her cluster. Finally, I gave up and moved onto the next sighting, ideally of a girl who actually smoked her cigarette rather than just held it between her fingers all day.

The numbers continued to roll in at a blistering pace during the dinner hour but I was starting to feel the ache in my feet already by this point and, with the air feeling cooler and cooler as evening approached, I was losing some of my motivation. It’s nothing an epic sighting couldn’t fix, but those just weren’t to be found yesterday. One that started out very impressively was Sighting #95. I was walking through the seating area behind the food building and spotted that beautiful blonde who was Sighting #77 along with the boyfriend/husband and what apparently is her daughter. I sat there hoping to see more smoking, but she never lit up. While I was sitting there, however, I took note of a trio of guys in the company of a very beautiful long-haired 21ish brunette standing about 20 feet in front of me. Suddenly, the guy pulls out an all-brown tobacco unit which I originally expected was a Swisher Sweet. He struggled to work the lighter in the wind and couldn’t quit get the job done. That’s when his hot chick girlfriend came in, taking the cigarette/cigar and placing it between her lips to fire it up. The other two guys heckled the boyfriend when the girl got the thing lit in a matter of seconds. From that point, the couple proceeded together alone with the guy in possession of the tobacco. I had to follow to see if anything else exciting would happen with this pair….

In doing so, I came across Sighting #96, an adorable girl-next-door 18-ish brunette seated at the edge of the food building’s seating area smoking a cigarette in the company of a nonsmoking friend. I had to make a split second judgment call to determine which I wanted to see more. I ultimately decided I just had to follow the cigar couple to see if it really was a cigar and if the girl would actually smoke some of it or light up her own. I caught up with them in time to see the guy hand the girl the cigar. She took a puff and produced a cloudy exhale before immediately handing it right back to the boyfriend, who held onto it for the duration of its existence. This gave me the time to make two observations. First, this brunette girl was a stunner….very close to a perfect 10 on the attractiveness/sexiness scale with her long and dark brown hair flowing all the way down her back, and the ultra-skimpy tanktop she wore with only a sport bra underneath. Second, I don’t this was a Swisher Sweet he was smoking. The colors were not the same and I could not detect the unmistakable odor of cigar smoke emitting from it. Would it really be a More cigarette? That’s the best I could come up with, but I always considered that to be a feminine cigarette and am surprised any guy would ever smoke one. Whatever the case, he must have gotten sick of smoking it after a few minutes as she snuffed out the cherry and stuck the cigarette behind his ear to save for later. Needless to say, I was pretty disappointed at the way this sighting played out.

It was 6:30 on the nose when this sighting wrapped up, meaning I had a half hour before the designated meet-up time with my parents at the information booth. My feet were sore and I needed the rest, but had a fair amount of ground to pick up to compete with the last two years’ numbers. Amazingly, I did. While there was nothing particularly noteworthy, I managed 21 additional sightings to wrap up Phase I of my day with 117 sightings by 7 p.m., still behind last year’s 125 sightings but within striking distance. I was fatigued and bitterly cold sitting at the wind tunnel that is the information booth area, and definitely had less energy to press on than I had previous years. Still I was determined to have a stellar evening and make the Minnesota State Fair of 2009 more memorable than it had been up to that point. Sitting there, three sightings passed by, the best being Sighting #119, a cute 19-20ish blonde in the company of two female friends, but the blonde was the only smoker. She was very cute, but the coldness of the weather became too real when I saw the fleece collar of her jacket, which reminded me very much of a winter jacket. As cool as it was yesterday, it was still WAY too early for that.

I set off about 7:15 for Phase II of the Great Minnesota Smokefest 2009, suffering right from the get go when my feet reconnected with that unforgiving pavement. I had no idea how I was gonna be able to survive nearly three more hours of walking and was at this point gravely lamenting arriving 45 minutes earlier than usual. I was knocking back sightings left and right as I always do this at this time of the night, but was naturally hoping for a repeat performance of the epic cigar girl I saw at this point in the evening in 2008, or at least something of that caliber.

The beer gardens was hopping by this point and smokers lined the sidewalks just outside, providing me a triple-bang shot with Sightings #131, #132, and #133. The first two were attractive 21-ish blondes huddled together chatting as I sat on a bench to observe. Both were very attractive and enjoying the cigarette and alcoholic beverage, but just beyond them in another cluster was the Sighting #133 girl who quickly diverted my attention her way. She was a beautiful girl-next-door brunette who looked younger than 21 and wasn’t holding a beer like everyone else on the street suggesting she probably was a year or two under the threshold. Her long dark hair flowed seamlessly into her black University of Minnesota sweatshirt. Strangely but arousingly out of place was the cigarette she kept placing between her lips and dragging from. And she was one helluva smoker, performing two dangling drags of about 20 seconds each, holding the smoke in her lungs for a lengthy expanse and filling the chilly early evening sky with toxic clouds of carcinogens. It seemed as though she sucked down her cigarette at twice the speed of the two blondes closest to me before she and her friends headed off.

I was about to hit my best continuous stretch of sightings of the evening starting with Sighting #143 near the radio station booth where the deejay broadcasts live from the fair booth. Standing at the outer edge of the small crowd were three 18ish girls. Two of them weren’t particularly attractive, but the girl who was attractive was a girl-next-door dark blonde in a light sweatshirt and blue jeans who was wielding a freshly lit cigarette. It was a very cool dynamic because the other two girls both looked more like smokers than she did, but it was Little Miss Wholesome that was spewing fumes from her angellic face. She very much reminded me of a college girl named Breie from central Iowa who I had briefly courted online last year about this time. The trio moved slowly and were chatting amongst each other, with the smoker very much appearing to be the alpha female of the trio. As was the theme with the entire day, her exhales blew straight into her friends faces like heat-seeking missiles, but the other girls just seemed to be used to it. They headed towards the International Bazaar which had already been the location of my best sighting of the day. Unlike the girl earlier, this cutie dropped her cork-filter cigarette to the ground at the entrance of the Bazaar before proceeding inside. It was yet another Camel, a brand fast rising in popularity here in the Upper Midwest.

And no sooner did this sighting end than Sightings #144 and #145 began as two other girls, both appearing about 21 and both wielding freshly lit cigarettes, entered the Bazaar structure with cigarettes in hand. One girl was dark blonde and modestly attractive but a little chubbier than I prefer. The friend was much better looking with long dark hair flowing down her back covered by a skimpy red tanktop. The two aimlessly wandered through the Bazaar area and finally stopped at the entrance of the international souvenir shop where they continued smoking their cigarettes before heading inside. That made three young hotties in just one day who just seemed to assume they could smoke in this area. In both cases, it raised the stakes of the sightings.

I moved back towards the grandstand as evening darkness had now fully arrived and I would score another of my favorites of the day…Sighting #147. Standing just outside one of the grandstand entrances talking on her cell phone was an adorable 19-20ish brunette with long and straight brown hair. She had the face of angel and didn’t look at all like a smoker dressed in her zebra-striped top and very sexy white capris. Yet there she stood, cell phone in one hand and cigarette in the other. Another player would soon join the mix in the form of another young woman in her early 20s, a complete stranger, who stood a few feet away from the girl at the grandstand entrance apparently waiting for someone. The smoker hottie was in the process of wrapping up her phone call and my early suspicion that she was likely a grandstand worker (what is it with these hot grandstand workers at my Fair!!!) as she began walking back indoors as if heading back to work after a quick break. The sweet-looking cutie proceeded to casually and carelessly flick her still-burning cigarette to the ground only a couple feet in front of the other girl and release her final cloudy exhale when walking past her. From my vantage point, the wind did not work its magic and splash secondhand smoke into the other girl’s face this time, but not for lack of trying on the part of the smoker babe. As the smoker turned the corner to go inside the grandstand, I noticed she was getting the evil eye from the girl on the receiving end of her air pollution. This was probably my second favorite sighting of the day.

The grandstand area was overflowing with smokers by this point in the evening. Kid Rock was the grandstand performer and his music could be heard from outside. I was hoping he would bring in the target demographic, but it seemed like a slightly older crowd was waiting in line for his show. Most likely tonight’s performer Kelly Clarkson would have been a better bet for drawing a higher number of nicotine-addicted young hotties but that’s all guesswork at this point. Whatever the case, the grandstand would produce one more great double-barreled sighting just a couple minutes later with Sightings #151 and #152, two hot 18-19 dark-haired brunettes sitting on a bench ingesting carcinogens. There was an open spot on the bench and I took the opportunity to sit next to these hot young nicotine addicts. The girl closest to me was the prettier of the two but the girl to her left had the hottest outfit, with a short skirt and black leggings along with leather boots halfway up her calves. The girl closest to me, dressed more conventionally in jeans a black top, was the first to finish her cigarette, standing up to toss the butt into the garbage can, which is always a pet peeve of mine. However, the other girl kept smoking, and within a minute or so they both got up and began to walk away. In complete contrast to the more environmentally conscious first girl, the leather booted girl took a few steps and a final drag from her all-white before tossing the butt to the pavement, not even bothering to crush it out as the duo pressed forward. As I walked past, I could tell it was a Parliament.

My body was fast approaching the point where I could press forward no further before the 9:00 hour even arrived, and the cold wind added to my discomfort. Nonetheless, the sightings numbers were absolutely off the hook at this point and, if history was any indication, would continue to be for the rest of my night. I made a final run through the midway and scored a handful of modest sightings but nothing approaching the quality of #20 and #69 from my first two midway runs.

It was the beer gardens area that would deliver once again with my final stretch of truly memorable sightings of the night. Just sitting on the cluster of benches between the beer gardens and the women’s bathroom produced numerous sightings at this hour, and the next great one would be Sighting #164, a beautiful 21-ish long-haired blonde whose beauty stood out further by her sexy denim miniskirt and black cowgirl boots. In the company of another female smoker and what I assume were their respective boyfriends, she sparked up an all-white before proceeding down the block with her peeps. Unfortunately, the most annoying trait a female smoker can possess in the eyes of a stalking admirer is the “stop-and-go routine”, pressing forward a few yards and then coming to a dead stop and looking around for whatever reason…then repeating the same fetish-hostile act. They kept doing this and I finally decided to hang back at the risk of being too obvious.

And in this case, I retreated at the perfect spot, at the edge of the curb directly in front of two young couples with only one male smoker amongst them. They all looked about 18 or 19 and I took immediate note of how adorable the girls were, one a blonde in a pink T-shirt and jeans, and the other a sweetheart light brunette in a blue top and jeans with braces in her mouth. Amidst their conversation, the guy took a drag from his cigarette and my fatigued body almost buckled when the cutie with braces said “I just want one drag!” I didn’t know what to think as he handed her the cigarette, figuring she might just be a very occasional smoker in the mood for a drag at that moment in time. But as she took possession of that cigarette and became Sighting #165, she took a single impressive drag and exhaled the smoke entirely through her nose. There was no doubt in my mind that this girl was a habitual smoker after watching that show. From there, the blonde in the pink shirt who appeared to be the girlfriend of the male smoker, reached out to get her grubby paws on the cigarette and took a drag of her own, becoming Sighting #166. After that, the boyfriend got the cigarette back and regrettably was not requested to hand it over to the womenfolk again. Still, that cutie with braces made my hour with just that single nasal exhale.

While sightings continued to be very strong in that final hour, I regret to say it was mostly a blur. After dark, sightings tend to be harder to successfully evaluate, and the fire in one’s belly for sightings tends to wane a bit, particularly when one’s foot pain is approaching a crisis situation. Now last year’s day at the Minnesota State Fair was the best day of fetishing in my entire life, with an avalanche trajectory where the momentum just kept getting more intense with each passing hour of the day right up until the mind-blowing final hour of blockbusters and epics galore. There would be nothing approaching that in the final hour this year and even if there was I was in too much pain to sufficiently study them. With my overall numbers still holding up very strong, my goal now was to simply press forward as much as I could and hopefully break my all-time numbers record.

And that’s exactly what I did. For nearly 15 minutes towards the end of the evening, I sat near the grandstand listening to what I could of Kid Rock and taking in a couple modest passerby sightings. I had already broken my record and was at 195 sightings when I decided I’d press forward past the beer garden one final time on the way to the meeting place with the parents. I’d score four more sightings walking to the open bench near the meeting place, including two 18-year-old blonde hotties wielding cigarettes and who were Sightings #197 and #198, both of whom would have blown my doors off if I had seen them a few hours earlier, but who were regrettably mere numbers to add to the tally at this late hour.

Surprisingly, my parents weren’t there yet and I sat on another open bench waiting for them (turns out they were watching a horse show inside the Coliseum that ran a little past 10). This proved to be a useful place to watch people heading for the exits, including smokers. I officially reached the 200 sightings benchmark about two minutes after sitting down and would see a handful more. I even had one nonsmoking college-age brunette who I hadn’t even noticed walk past me saying “Hey cutie!” I had to look up to be sure she was talking to me and was surprised she was. Why couldn’t I have had an interaction like this a few hours earlier before I had become a zombie. A mustered a halfhearted “Hey” in response as she kept moving with her friend, realizing the situation was not such that I could take advantage of the situation in any way.

Shortly after her out-of-nowhere flirt came a duo of hotties that would end my evening in style. Standing in front of a corn dog stand (or in Minnesota we call them “pronto pups”!) as if pondering a purchase, the very attractive duo (one blonde and one brunette) instead decided to go for a smoke, becoming Sightings #203 and #204 as they lit up. They were about 50 feet in front of me so I didn’t get as close of a look as I would have liked but I could tell they were both knockouts, somewhere in the 18-21 age range. The best part of the sighting was when it became clear there was a male nonsmoker in their cluster. The smoker hotties headed to a bench to finish their cigarettes, the cherries glowing like fireflies and glowing even brighter when they took their respective drags, all while the nonsmoking guy, who apparently didn’t care to be around the girls’ stinky cigarettes stood up several feet in front of them while the girl sat and smoked.

The evening ended moments later when my parents arrived and I was only too eager to leave the grounds after a nearly 14-hour day of almost nonstop walking. I’m glad the numbers race proved so impressive in the evening because I was pretty disillusioned by the daylight hours yesterday. The closest parallel to yesterday was 2002, another year where my sightings numbers were quite good but there weren’t many barnburner sightings that I still remember fondly today. Certainly the top-20 of my all-time MNSF sightings will remain comfortably intact and only two or three of this year’s entries are likely to fall into the periphery my all-time top-40 sightings list. Nonetheless, I scored scores of solid sightings and I can’t expect to reinvent the wheel every year. It sure will be difficult waiting more than 11 months for August fair season to fire up again though.

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