So is it possible to set an all-time one-day record for fairgrounds sightings and still have a pretty lousy day of fetishing? Apparently because both things happened this Saturday. All day long I was well ahead of my sightings baseline and, even though I figured my 200-sightings days at the Minnesota State Fair were over forever, I managed 220 sightings yesterday, surpassing my previous record of 212 sightings set in 2010. Had I known the sightings figure in advance minus the context, I’d have figured this would have been one of the greatest fair sightings days of all-time, perhaps the greatest, but there was vanishingly little to get excited about among those 220. All five of last week’s MNSF homerun sightings exceeded anything I saw yesterday and while I stitched together a few sightings nominally poised for the middling and lower reaches of this year’s top-25 year-end list, it was mostly another example of would-be superstars burning out or having a shortened sighting. There was one very crazy and amazing moment but it was a three-second moment that satisfied but didn’t live up to its potential. It was mostly just a collection of unmemorable bloop singles cobbled together at a fast pace throughout the day that will be soon forgotten. The vast majority of them have already been forgotten!
So what happened? So much of a day’s sightings success can be connected to the evening musical entertainment. Even though last Sunday’s concert by the Dixie Chicks featured a has-been act, it was a has-been act that still had a following by nostalgic 20-somethings and brought out an attractive cowgirl demographic in droves. This week’s grandstand act was punk rock band Weezer, which brought more of an alternative demographic reflected by the fairgoers that was less attractive. It was also an extremely crowded day at the fair, as the Saturday of Labor Day weekend usually is, which collaborated to bring about a lot of general smoking but a smaller demographic of hotties. There’s another day in my fair orbit that most closely parallels this day and that was Day 1 of the 2009 Minnesota State Fair, my first day to stitch together more than 200 sightings yet it produced few stars. But that 2009 trip still stands out as a success story compared to yesterday.
The day got off to an encouraging start as we pulled into the fairgrounds parking lot just before 9 a.m. It was still cool and cloudy but the sun was poised to come out with highs in the upper 70s with low humidity, about the perfect weather for fair fetishing. A late 20s brunette pulled into the parking lot with cigarette in hand, becoming Sighting #1 before I officially entered the gate. That’s a good way to start a day! I entered the gate and followed my usual route of exploration, killing some time in the dead morning hours by grabbing a bite to eat and riding the Space Tower, which gives you a vantage point of the entire fairgrounds as well as the Minneapolis and St. Paul skylines from hundreds of feet in the air.
I thought I had found my first superstar of the day as I approached the grandstand’s east side smoking area and saw this smolderingly sexy body in tight white shorts with her boyfriend/husband but when I got there I was struck by her advanced age. She was probably late 30s and looked every year of it. The body was still awesome enough to qualify her as Sighting #3 but she was the first of what would be many disappointments on the day.
More to my liking was Sighting #5, this early 20s long-haired redhead in sunglasses, a black tanktop, and jean shorts who reminded me a lot of last week’s Sighting #21 even though I’m 90% sure it was a different girl. The beer gardens area repurposed these old Tilt-a-Whirl cars as outdoor seating and this redhead and a middle-aged gal I presumed were her mom climbing inside. The nature of this beer gardens block is that I have to double back after my first pass and doing so yesterday I saw the redhead had lit a cigarette in the interim while mom did not. I got off on mom choking on her daughter’s cigarette fumes sitting there in that semi-enclosed car. She spotted me right away so I dared not take a pic, but hovered in the general area watching her take a few drags before moving on. A couple of hours later, I saw mom and daughter walking in the same area, and the daughter was smoking again!
One trend that just isn’t going away even though it hasn’t grown to the degree I feared is vaping. I only got screwed out of a few would-be great sightings because of “vape tanks” yesterday but one in particular hurt. Right away in the morning I saw a middle-aged smoking couple with two hot blond teen daughters in leggings sitting next to them. Neither was smoking so I didn’t give it any further thought until I returned to the same spot about a half hour later and saw the two girls sitting alone, and the older girl was vaping. Ugh!
I was putting sightings on the board quite a bit faster than the previous week and around 11:00 while encircling the horticulture building I saw this sexy and attractive mid-20s dark blond in sunglasses, a navy T-shirt and dark jeans illegally exploring the fairgrounds with cigarette in hand. Most strikingly she was in the presence of this bearded, middle-aged blue collar guy who had to have been her father because I can’t imagine a girl like this going out romantically with a guy of this pedigree who is a generation older than her. I snapped a pic that nailed her pretty good with cigarette in hand and then hovered to her side as she walked and watched the show. It was a nice performance that included a couple dangling drags for posterity. You could tell she was a serious smoker and the most adorable part is that the blue-collar dad wasn’t smoking. And lo and behold an hour or so later I’d see the same likely father-daughter duo again and the daughter was once again smoking while dad wasn’t, and once again walking through the fairgrounds with a cigarette in an illegal spot. Definitely my favorite sighting of the morning hour.
Another winner came with Sighting #15 which is in the wooded, park-like designated smoking area on the east side of the fair grounds near the Leinie Lodge where I first saw last week’s family of smoker hotties. Occupying a bench in this area yesterday was a wholesome early-to-mid 20s long-haired blond who looked like your stereotypical Minnesota girl of Scandinavian descent and didn’t look at all like a smoker. Yet there she sat, opening up a pack of cigarettes while sitting all by herself in her black and white striped shirt and conservative medium-blue jeans and lighting up. It was a great show too and I had a bench adjacent to hers to both watch the show and snap some pics. Her drags were very well-timed and her exhales cloudy and three-pronged emerging from both mouth and nose. I stuck around and watched her smoke the whole cigarette and was waiting around for a butt ID when she finished. Instead, she made a point of crushing it out on the pavement and walking towards a far-away ashtray, denying me the butt ID and also revealing that her ass was larger than I had hoped. It was still a great sighting though and I saw her later in the day in the company of a boyfriend and they were sharing a cigarette.
The berm area east of the grandstand came through quite a few times yesterday including in the late morning when yet another sighting I expect to have been a nonsmoking father with a smoking daughter. I took a seat next to them to watch what I could of the show as Sighting #16, the long-haired blond daughter in a white top and jeans was sort of smoking but very distracted fidgeting around for something in her purse. I was eating a chocolate dessert and wasn’t able to score any pics, which would have been awkward anyway given where we both were sitting. And while this was going on, a young family was following the messages on the cobblestone ground in front of the berm while the 30ish brunette mother lit up a cigarette to be Sighting #17 and she and the nonsmoking husband were helping the children figure out whatever puzzle was on the bricks. Between the two of them, it made for a pretty good show as I ate my chocolate cream puff.
I was at 23 sightings at noon which is above my recent baseline and a good indication of an active day. I kept waiting for the first inevitable grand slam sighting but I would be waiting and waiting and waiting for that sighting. There were quite a few extra base hits along the way though and another pleasing development in the early afternoon came when I walked through the midway….and got a sighting! In recent years the midway has been a bust from a sightings standpoint but I actually did okay there yesterday, including with Sighting #30. I saw this family that included two young guys, a mother, and an early 20s brunette daughter in a black top and sexy white shorts. I was bummed to see the two guys smoking and not the girl but still stuck around thinking there might be some cigarette sharing action going on. And sure enough, one of the two young guys began to walk off and play a carnival game but before doing so handed the girl his cigarette. She proceeded to finish off the cigarette and I was ecstatic seeing this sexy hottie smoking, and doing so pretty well with solid drags and cloudy exhales. There were only about four drags left on the cigarette but I got to see them all, and managed a few photos but had to take them on a bench a few yards away with a trash barrel in front of me so the pics aren’t as great as I hoped. It was a solid extra-base hit though and I was still feeling good about the trajectory of the day.
The south side designated smoking area on Judson Avenue was probably the most productive smoking area on Sunday, at least when I was able to push and shove my way through the insane crowds and find an opening to get to it. A wholesome blond in a T-shirt and jeans was standing by herself smoking and talking on the phone. While Sighting #32 was distracted, I struggled to snap some pics from awkward vantage points hoping something would stick, but most of them just caught random people crossing in front of her. I managed one that caught her face in the corner of the pic but didn’t do justice to her smoking show which impressed, especially her cloudy exhales which scattered to the fairly considerable breeze yesterday.
And speaking of hot blonds, they didn’t come much hotter yesterday than Sighting #38 at the designated smoking area north of the beer gardens block where I approached her in her sunglasses, black tanktop, and jeans in mid-dangle of an all-white. She looked mid-to-late 20s and with her platinum blond, shoulder-length hair just oozed badass sex appeal. Distracted by her phone, it was reasonably easy for me to take pics and I got a few good ones although nothing right up close that fully captures her hotness frontally. She was a great smoker, and all by herself in the smoking area which helps, taking deep drags that included a couple more drags of the dangling variety with some cloudy exhales to follow it up. It was a good five minute show as I watched her smoke the whole cigarette, but once again deposited it in the ashtray preventing me from a butt ID, an unfortunate recurring them both days at the Minnesota State Fair. My best sighting so far of the day….
….until the next one, at the same smoking area about five minutes later when I doubled back. While the previous blond looked completely like a smoker, the next duo of blonds looked less like smokers than any girls I would see all day. It was actually a quasi-family setting with two sets of young couples in their mid-20s and a middle-aged mom. I’m guessing the blonds were sisters because they sure looked like it. Sightings #40 and #41 and their boyfriends were smoking and mom was not. It’s so rare these days to see young women in their 20s who look like they’d probably be young professionals who are nonetheless smokers, but I got that vibe from both of these two who just struck me as intelligent and upper middle class. The girl I saw the most of was wearing a neon yellow top and black slacks but the likely sister is the one who intrigued me most, petite and decked out in a green top and similar black slacks. How do girls like this become smokers this day and age, I thought to myself as I furiously snapped pics from various angles, although the circle the group was standing in prevented me from getting anything outstanding. As I watched them smoke, they were looking my direction but distracted by the extreme Slingshot ride on the same block that has been the source of amusement for many a nicotine-addicted female fairgoer over the years. I was really settling in for an extended smoking show destined to be my first classic of the day but halfway through their cigarettes, the entire group decided half a cigarette was enough and were bending down to stub out the remainder of the cigarettes to save for later. I was temporarily heartbroken but as I began to walk away, I noticed the blond in the neon yellow top was opening up a cigarette case to put the second half of her cigarette in for later. The case was filled with a pack’s worth of Marlboro Reds and as I directed my eyes to the sister I saw she had a cigarette case of her own. I suppose I’d still have preferred a full sighting from these hotties, but discovering their dedication to nicotine dependency extends to the usage of cigarette cases was particularly impressive and also reinforced my original impression they were likely upscale young professionals as I doubt too many convenience store clerks or nurse’s aides use cigarette cases. The novelty of the sighting’s ending combined with the hotness of the girls made it my best sighting of the daytime hours. But I would never have imagined how many hours I’d have to wait to get a sighting better than this one.
I continued to tick off sightings at a fast clip and a half hour after that last sighting I was already up to Sighting #52 on the steps leading up to the grandstand on its east side, where a middle-aged woman and a guy and gal in their 20s were all sitting with the two youngsters smoking. The gal was a ponytailed blond in a very utilitarian gray sweatshirt and torn blue jeans smoking an all-white. I watched her take a few drags from the bottom of the stairs and was especially taken by the fact that she held her cigarette hand on the stair railing above her head as if trying to keep her smoke away from the mom. Knowing I couldn’t take a pic from the bottom of the stairs without being spotted, I ascended the steps and then descended them again taking a very challenging and high-risk photo on the way down. But I’ll be damned if the photo didn’t turn out, capturing the girl holding the cigarette above her head on the railing. As I got back down the steps I watched the rest of the sighting and when she took her final drag she crushed the cigarette out on the step above her…and let it sit there. I took a quick jaunt to the nearest designated smoking area but returned a couple of minutes later to find the steps vacant and climbed up to where she sat to ID her butt as a Camel Crush.
Disastrous timing continued to be a problem for me and deny me extended sightings of would-be superstars. The latest came at the designated smoking area east of the grandstand, far and away the smoking area I’ve had the most success with over the years including two of last week’s classic five. I had no such luck at this site yesterday though as every time I approached it, it felt like I was entering a leper colony full of unattractive 40 and 50-somethings. The lone exception came just before 3:00 when I briefly spotted Sighting #71, one of the day’s most wholesome and youthful faces. I’d guess she was 19 or 20, had her long light brown hair in a ponytail, was in the presence of an equally wholesome boyfriend, and was decked out in a white and black sweatshirt with blue jeans, an outfit every bit as girl-next-door as her face. And her cigarette was nearly a stub when I saw her, meaning the first drag I’d see from her would be her last. Beautiful as it was to see smoke exhaling from her respiratory system, it would be the only time I’d see it. I was devastated. The couple drug their feet before leaving so I was able to get a couple of photos to document her profile, but it would have obviously been preferable to get either a smoking pic or a sighting of a full smoking performance.
The crowds were positively suffocating so I cut through a slightly less traveled grassy area that runs along the walkway to the grandstand’s entrance. If I’m lucky I get this way once a year but with the crowds yesterday I cut through here on a few occasions just to get some relief. But doing so yesterday I spotted Sighting #73, two generations of attractive women sitting on a bench smoking. Now it may well have been a mother-daughter sighting but since both women were wearing matching white T-shirts it made me wonder if it was two co-workers at the same fair vendor merely out on a smoke break together since they didn’t really look that much alike. The younger woman looked mid-20s and had long light brown hair with a memorably attractive face. I was attempting numerous pics trying to capture her in mid-drag but only two turned out, neither of which featured her dragging. She was a fairly slow smoker and didn’t offer any style points so I didn’t stick around for the whole smoking show, but the three minutes or so I observed gave me a very nice mental image of an older and younger woman who were both attractive and both indulging their servitude to nicotine in an illegal location.
I’d get another tail-end sighting of a hottie at the park-like smoking area on the east side of the grounds with Sighting #76, a petite light brunette in a black tanktop and tan shorts finishing off a cigarette with her boyfriend. This wasn’t likely poised to be a top sighting of the day or anything but it was still frustrating to be missing the vast majority of so many sightings from some of the few memorably pretty faces I was running into yesterday.
And it was after that that the “moment” happened that I alluded to at the writeup’s opening. It was almost 4:00 when I was exploring the smoking area next to the beer gardens block and its adjoining bathroom. Sitting on the steps was a middle-aged woman, man, and a young blond girl who looked about 13. It’s almost to the point where my eyes are no longer even conditioned to explore very young teens anymore because the smoking rate amongst them is so close to zero, so I didn’t even process this girl during my first visual scan of the smoking area. Yet I spotted the mom (or possible grandma) smoking and then extended her hand past her husband and to the young girl. The first second I laid eyes on this girl she was taking the cigarette from her mother/grandmother and approaching it to her lips. She took one quick drag and then crushed it out on the step next to her. Sighting #85 happened so quickly and took me by such surprise that I was scrambling to process what I had just seen, taking a closer look at this girl thinking my first impression of her face must have been wrong and she was really 21. But I looked again….and she was definitely middle-school aged! And she was absolutely adorable to boot. It happened again! This is the third time the Minnesota State Fair has produced a sighting where a permissive parent or grandparent has allowed their middle-school-aged blond bombshell girl to smoke publicly. And all three girls could be sisters…all adorable long-haired blonds with bubbly smiles and youthful energy to spare. At first I was in despair that I missed this, but honestly there’s no telling how much I actually missed. The plan all along may have been to give this girl one or two on-the-sly drags from mom’s cigarette, and even that was a crazy move given the stigma surrounding letting children smoke in today’s America, let alone in perhaps the most public place in all of America in late August and early September given the size of the crowds. The family got up to leave shortly after, in good spirits, and the young girl was wearing a black T-shirt and gray leggings. I was still kind of in shock and didn’t know what else to do in response, choosing to check out the butt the daughter crushed out but seeing there were three different butts on the same corner of the same step and not knowing which was hers….
While I wouldn’t see any more smoking from this family, I did run into them on the grounds in another half hour or so, walking through an intensely crowded part of the grounds with the parents/grandparents razzing the girl in a way that parents and grandparents often do to girls that age. I didn’t hear the context of the razzing but I heard the girl say in a classic early teen girl voice “I’m not totally clueless!” The mother laughed and repeated the “not totally clueless” line to the father who didn’t hear it. I was gaming for another risky photo as the girl briefly broke in front of her elders and I snapped a rear photo of her in the tanktop and leggings. You can’t tell much from the photo since you don’t see her face but she’s clearly a very young girl based on her body frame. I still don’t know what to make of this sighting. The shocking novelty of that three-second moment was enough to make this my second favorite sighting of the day and am grateful for what I did see, but also disappointed that this sighting, and sightings like it, have become such an endangered species even compared to 2000 when I saw my first sighting of its kind at the MNSF. I suppose out of 260,000 attendees at the Minnesota State Fair, the odds are probably decent that there’s a single cute 13-year-old blond girl who smokes among them, but I’m still rather shocked I was actual there to see it when I needed to be.
There was a really odd vibe the entire afternoon as I was getting enough sightings generally to keep from getting demoralized but I just never felt a sense of momentum or satisfaction with what I was seeing, and even that stunning early teen sighting didn’t completely erase that feeling since I only saw one drag, but onward I pressed and decided to take my second and final trip up to the north side of the fair grounds after 4:00. Last week, the designated smoking area heading up to the north side produced a flurry of solid sightings but Sighting #90 was about all I got out of it yesterday. It was yet another example of my instincts working out when it came to shared cigarette sightings. A young couple in their 20s sat on the curb and the guy was smoking. The attractive brunette girlfriend in sexy, skin-tight black leggings sat next to him patiently and after about a minute he handed her the cigarette which she took a couple of nice drags from before handing it back to him. While I certainly like to see my instincts confirmed with male smokers handing their cigarettes to their girlfriends, it would be much better if the girls smoked their own cigarettes, but I’m sure this is more than anything else a product of the higher cost of cigarettes.
I hit the sightings century threshold around 5:00, about an hour earlier than I’d ever hit it before. It was just crazy to be getting this many sightings with so few memorable ones among them. Most sightings were just blips on the radar, single-base hits of modestly attractive young women mostly in the 25-35 range. One of the few to stand out in the 5:00 hour came at the south side designated smoking area near the dairy building where two above-average attractive early-to-mid 20s brunettes in blouses and jeans were smoking. Sightings #106 and #107 didn’t exude any kind of IT factor but their youthful smoking as they spoke was a sight for sore eyes and I got a couple of decent pics. I watched a few of their drags and a modest smoking performance played out. Not much more to say about this one.
Moving westward towards the grandstand on Dan Patch Avenue, a young mother who normally wouldn’t have been my type stood out in the crowd a little as she illegally strutted through the densely populated grounds with cigarette in hand in the company of her own nonsmoking mother and a young child about four. Sighting #115 was in her mid-to-late 20s with a vaguely alternative look, blond hair extending to her shoulders from a patch of unnatural red hair up top and dressed in a white T-shirt and jeans. She was a good smoker though taking nice drags as she walked with cloudy exhales that she didn’t seem to care how many people had to choke on. I caught just a portion of her head and upper body in a snapshot but it’s nothing worth saving. I did get pretty close as I walked to her side though and could tell her brand was a Camel Light Menthol.
I went back down the midway right around the 6:00 hour as I haven’t fully given up on that place yet. And as it did in the early afternoon, it came through with something memorable as in the remote designated smoking area at the far end next to the port-a-potties. Sighting #124 was an attractive young black woman in a pink tanktop and skimpy cutoffs who was taking a smoke break while her young daughter hovered nearby. It’s so rare to see attractive young black women smoking these days that it brought a smile to my face. It was challenging to even observe her smoking let alone take an undetected snapshot but I managed a modest one. Her style was decent if unmemorable. I also took advantage of those remote midway port-a-potties to empty my bladder rather than wait in a long line for the bathrooms on the overcrowded central bathroom locations on the grounds.
Before leaving the midway I spotted an attractive 20-something blond in white shorts with a braid hanging over her shoulder rummaging through her purse. Sure enough, there was a pack of Camel Menthols in there. She continued rummaging and I was hoping she’d fire up one of those Camels before closing her purse, but alas she didn’t as whatever she was looking for in her purse were not her cigarettes. Since she was in possession of tobacco that I was certain was hers, I still counted her as Sighting #126.
But it was when I returned to the smoking area next to the beer gardens block when I finally thought I had hit my first major homerun of the day, even though it would end up being yet another disappointment in the end. As I approached the crowded area where the smoking area and the line for the bathroom collided, I spotted a geyser of smoke exhaled from the face of an attractive female and hustled to get a closer look. Sighting #130 was a pretty “valley girl” type smoking a Black ‘N’ Mild cigar. I really needed a good cigar sighting this year as my last good cigar sighting at a fair was two years ago. This girl was very attractive, about 22 with a camouflage ball cap and long grayish-blond salt-and-pepper hair that seems to be popular with girls these days even though I’m not a huge fan. She had a nice chest under her white tanktop but unfortunately had a sweatshirt wrapped around her waist and hiding whatever shorts she was wearing. Her Kim Kardashian-esque voice was rather annoying as well, but none of this mattered when I watched her taking drags from that cigar. Her third drag was the best as she pursed her lips and exhaled a really giant cloud of dirty cigar smoke into the sky while standing only a couple of feet away from a long line of women waiting for the bathroom who were undoubtedly repulsed by the stench she was breathing into the sky. I was readying my camera for photos and an outstanding, colorful sighting, but by the time my camera was ready to take pics, the cigar was no longer in her hand. She was with a mixed-gender group of about six and I was scanning them with the sun in my eyes obstructing my line of vision some, and simply couldn’t find a cigar. A good minute passed until I saw one of the guys in the group was now in possession of it. I stuck around desperately waiting for her to get the cigar back but not knowing if she would. Before long, the whole group began to walk away. I followed for a while in case she got the cigar back, but as the distance grew between her and the guy who walked off with it, I knew it was a lost cause. About an hour later she got a chance to redeem herself as I spotted her with her friends at the designated smoking area west of the grandstand and most of the friends were smoking cigarettes, including two of the fairly nondescript but modestly attractive girls in the group (Sightings #155 and #156). But my cigar-experimenting beauty wasn’t even smoking a cigarette! The guy with the cigar quickly joined the group but they were only together for about three minutes before the girl and one of her friends walked off. There would be no more smoking from her. It was just so frustrating that I couldn’t seem to get traction anywhere and I really felt like I got screwed out of a great cigar sighting here.
Back to the 6:00 hour, one thing I couldn’t complain about were the sightings numbers as I was well ahead of my baseline as I approached the south side smoking area on Judson Avenue for one of my better sightings of the day. An attractive early 20s brunette was sitting on the cement stump at the center of the smoking area attending to her nicotine needs. She was a brunette in a tie-dye top and black shorts sitting with her smooth, bare legs exposed. And while she was in the book as Sighting #135, her friend next to her was also readying a cigarette of her own for consumption. The friend was less immediately attractive but still struck an impressive pose with her long dark blond hair wearing her white T-shirt and leggings. I was readying my camera phone and got some very nice pics of the two of them. The friend officially became Sighting #136 as she lit up in the same shot as the original brunette was taking a drag in one of my pics. The brunette in the black shorts was still my favorite of the two as she had the most striking girl-next-door beauty so when a seat opened up next to her on the cement slab, I jumped at the opportunity to sit there and watch her show up close, enjoying her nicely paced drags and solid exhales–and her stinky tobacco odor–while snapping a couple of stealth pics from very close range. I was sitting close enough to tell that her cigarette was a Marlboro Red Special Blend and watched her take her final drag and drop it to the ground, ignoring the ashtray only a few feet away from her. At this point I got up to get a closer look at the friend who was to her right and it was only then that I realized there was a third girl in this mix. I had taken note of a decently attractive brunette in a white top with pale blue jean shorts and black pantyhose below the belt who was standing in front of the other two smoking and had already counted her as Sighting #137, but I didn’t realize she was the third addicted girl of this trio until I noticed she was conversing with the other two smokers. I thought I snapped a pic of the three of them but it looks like the new girl was mostly cut out of it. Either way, it was nice to see the two of them continue smoking. The dark blond second girl was next to drop her cigarette to the grass and crush it out. Hers was a Camel Light Menthol. The third girl spent another 30 seconds or so finishing hers off and also polluting her butt before the three of them rose to their feet to leave. None of these three individually had overflowing IT factor but I liked how the sighting started with one girl and then escalated to three, all attractive, all polluters, and all giving me farrow-to-finish sightings. It was good enough to make this my third favorite sighting of the day.
I maintained a bit of this momentum as I moved east past the haunted mansion and horticulture building moments later and took note of this mid-20s attractive blond going the other direction wielding a freshly lit cigarette wearing a pink T-shirt and white pants. Sighting #139 cut an interesting profile but rather than follow her the opposite direction through difficult-to-navigate crowds, I made the judgment call to just watch her from the rear and take a single drag before moving on. I had greener pastures to attend to as the clock approached 7:00 and I wanted to be by the grandstand to see the nicotine-addicted fairgoers smoking a final cigarette before heading into the Weezer concert.
But I’d run into one more impressive distraction before I got there. A group of three young people was walking southward past the Leinie Lodge as I headed northward. The trio included a guy and two girls, and one of the girls was wielding a cigarette. Sighting #140 was a strikingly pretty dark blond in this amazingly colorful tie-dye minidress. The presentation was incredible and for this one, I did decide to turn around and follow as they headed south, taking a couple of pics along the way and fearing the show would be short-lived since there wasn’t much left on her cigarette. I caught a break though as the two girls decided to pose for photos and the guy took hold of the camera to snap pics of them posing together. It was particularly adorable to see the tie-dye girl posing with cigarette in hand and exposing the nonsmoking friend to her cancerous secondhand smoke at pretty close range. I got several pics but will have to blow them up on my computer to see if her cigarette is visible in any of them. After picture taking they pressed forward and the smoker babe took two final drags from her cigarette before dropping it to the pavement and crushing it out. The downside of a girl smoking her cigarette so close to the filter is that I was unable to ID the cork filter butt.
I finally made it to the grandstand area to check out the crowd in advance of the Weezer concert. While I pieced together a few more sightings, the crowd wasn’t as attractive as the crowd in advance of the Dixie Chicks concert a week earlier when I had that sensory overload of nicotine hotties before meeting my parents at 7:00. But when I went to the information booth for the brief downtime respite with the folks at 7:00, I was at 148 sightings for the day. 148!!! My baseline for 7:00 is 110-125 sightings, and I don’t ever once recall being above 125. Yet today I exceeded it by 23 sightings! I’d have figured I would be overjoyed, yet the quality just hadn’t been there yet. I wasn’t discouraged though because on two occasions where I had a weak daytime haul–2010, Day 2, and 2013, Day 2–the evening came through massively and I salvaged the entire day. Still, in the last few MNSF outings, the evening hours haven’t proven to be as useful as they used to be. The verdict for last evening…..the most productive haul of extra-base hits of the day but still not many classics. At around 7:15, I headed off for my final three hours of fetishing.
And all I had to do was cross the street from the information area where I met my parents to the smoking area north of the food building when I stumbled into a sighting that lit up my world only to let me down again. There were two sets of couples in their early 20s, the first of which included Sighting #149, this blond in a hot pink tanktop and jean shorts who was decently attractive and had an unlit cigarette in her hand. The boyfriend had a lit cigarette and the blond was attempting to beckon him to use his cigarette to light her up, but he faked her out as she kept her all-white cigarette in her mouth waiting and he pulled back. While this was semi-amusing to behold, my attention was diverted to the girl from the other couple, this brunette with major star power potential wearing a medium-blue tanktop and white shorts with very tanned legs coming out of them. She dominated this group in terms of visual appeal and even with the other couple goofing off with the lighting of the cigarette, my eyes were fixated on this brunette’s bemused facial expression as she observed. Even without her smoking, I just had to get a photo and managed to nail a frontal shot that captures her face and her crotch in those white shorts. This is another smoking area where I venture one way and then double back to get to the next one so I drifted away for about 30 seconds and then returned, being sure to get another look at that brunette just in case. And guess what….she now had a cigarette in her hand and just that quickly became Sighting #150. I was elated as this was the first girl with bona fide star power to be smoking for hours. I got a few pics of her with cigarette in hand but the masses of people coming and going made it next to impossible to get a great shot in mid-drag. She was a very solid smoker though and the visual of her dragging from that all-white and exhaling dense plumes of smoke straight in front of her was one of the best of the day. Unfortunately it lasted only about three drags before the blond girl beckoned the cigarette back. I hadn’t been paying enough attention to the blond to even realize she hadn’t been smoking and was sharing this cigarette with the brunette but that’s what was going on. I waited a couple of minutes for the blond to give the brunette back the cigarette but this story would have an unhappy ending. At the very moment the brunette was holding her hand out to get the cigarette back, the blond was inexplicably snuffing it out even though there was nearly half of it left. She had to break the brunette’s heart (and mine) by showing her the stubbed-out remains and then began walking to the trash can to dispose of it. I knew that blond was trouble the second I laid eyes on her and now she had robbed me of a full sighting from one of the best girls of the day.
The theme of potential squandered continued in the 7:00 hour as I stumbled into another foursome of early-to-mid 20s hotties about 15 minutes later. Two of the four were in possession of smoldering cigarettes. None had the star power of that last brunette in white shorts but all were attractive young hotties who didn’t really look like smokers. Sighting #157 was a long-haired blond in a green top and tight jeans but the other girl intrigued me more. Sighting #158 was a light brunette in a plaid top and jean shorts with the most memorably cute face. She would briefly relent the cigarette to a third girl, Sighting #159, another light brunette dressed almost identically in a plaid blouse and jean shorts who took two quick drags and then handed it to the other girl. The smoking style was just average and I scrambled to get photos, but it’s hard enough to get in-motion walking photos in the middle of the day but when sunset is approaching they’re more likely than ever to be blurry as was the case with this batch. Worse yet, the trio was migrating north and westward towards the biggest bottleneck on the fairgrounds where I’d be certain to lose them. My favorite girl of the group all too quickly finished off the cigarette and crushed it out on the pavement before they took on the immense crowds near the pork-chop-on-a-stick stand. It seemed likely from the markings that she was smoking a Parliament and I was able to confirm that. Once again, a sighting that should have been much more kind of fell flat.
But arguably the most painful sighting of the day came next when I went to the alleyway between the beer gardens block and the sheep building which has produced a significant number of stealth sightings in recent years. I make a special point of checking it out because it’s an excellent place for naughty underage smokers to sneak a smoke drawing as little attention to themselves as possible. And as I turned the corner, I could see that exactly that was going on about 20 yards in front of me as two pairs of 17-18ish boys and girls were sitting together smoking cigarettes. Excited as I was to spot Sightings #161 and #162, I could tell right away it was gonna be a logistical nightmare to watch this. I did a slow walk past them to immediately see the girl on the left had the most colorful presentation, a long-haired dark brunette in a hot pink tanktop and tan shorts. But it was the girl to her right that made my heart melt, an extremely wholesome 17ish dark blond in a maroon top and jeans who didn’t look at all like a smoker. The two guys were sitting to their right smoking. I was highly exposed anywhere I went in attempt to observe this so I had to settle for hovering to the brunette’s left. She was the better smoker of the two taking more frequent drags and producing some nice cloudy exhales that seemed to be giving her some significant pleasure based on her body language when exhaling. I didn’t get to see much of the blond to her right but could tell her style was more average. And since I was sitting immediately to their left I had to turn my head very obviously to see anything and the brunette was beginning to notice me. In retrospect my best option would have been to get behind them and lean against the sheep building, but I’d have been pretty obvious stalking them from there too. The best I could do was slowly walk away and snap a distant blurry pic that mainly captures the brunette’s hot pink top. I stood from a distance and watched what I could of the smoking which was nice but not nearly close-up enough to appreciate. It’s a shame because a solid sighting of this duo would have easily been one of my best of the day, but it just wasn’t coming together in a way worthy of that level of reward. I looped around the beer gardens block and got lucky when I came out the other side to find the group of four having just finished their cigarettes and walking back into the main part of the grounds. I was again struck by the brunette’s presentation but her face was at best a 7. But that blond…..what a cutie. It was so hard to believe that she was a teen smoker this day and age. I captured both of them in awkward walking pics that are too blurry to fully appreciate. By this point I was feeling serious doubts about whether I’d be able to salvage anything at all from this day that genuinely impressed and gave me enough smoking material to legitimately reward.
It was right about the time of dusk when I ran into another younger couple smoking in the seating area west of the grandstand. Sighting #171 was a cute girl-next-door brunette in a utilitarian sweatshirt and jeans sitting next to a boyfriend while breaking out a pack of Camel Blues from her purse. I’d guess she was about 18 and was cute but had an awkward nose that prevented her from being worthy of any serious acclaim. I was able to stand along the railing behind her and watch the show. Unfortunately she was a slow smoker and was preoccupied with taking selfies of herself and the boyfriend on the camera phone, so they posed for multiple shots as she held her cigarette in her left hand by the phone. When the shots were over, I stuck around and watched a couple of her drags and it was cute to see such an obvious teenage face drawing in smoke from a cigarette. As slow as she was consuming it I chose to walk away before the show was over but it was nice to at least be able to relax and watch a sighting rather than struggle with the logistics as had been my problem so much in the past hour.
Moments later I drifted further westward towards the giant huddle of teens that always forms on the edge of the midway, but before I got there I stumbled into another teen-ish sighting that impressed. Sighting #172 was a blond 18ish hottie with a memorably cute face wearing a shoulderless black top and jean shorts sitting on the curb smoking with her boyfriend, a pack of Marlboro Menthols in her purse in front of her. I had a decent vantage point to hover from above and to their side to watch to, but I got greedy and blew it. It was post-sunset now so photos were all gonna be blurry and not worth the risk, but that didn’t stop me from trying. I captured a moderately successful side shot of her from close range….but a girl from the teen cluster totally busted me and then pointed to her friend to tell her I was taking pictures. So now I had to walk away, screwing myself even out of watching this sighting play out. Or mostly anyway. I returned gingerly from a different angle and watched the sighting from afar, but I wasn’t close enough to fully appreciate blondie’s smoking style or to extract any sort of storyline from it. The good news is I learned my lesson and avoided further picture-taking for the remaining 2 1/2 hours, but obviously the lesson came at a price. The other good news is I’d have a string of extra-base hits and the best sighting of the day yet to come.
It was about 8:45 now and I continued to be well ahead of my baseline. I decided to head into the food building and get my final order of cheese curds for the 2016 fair season. I walked out of there and as I was leaving the area I spotted what I figured was a mother-daughter duo standing in front of a stroller both smoking cigarettes. The mother was middle-aged, overweight, and unattractive but the Sighting #180 daughter was the real deal looking about 21 years old with long dark brown hair, a pink top, and skinny jeans covering her slender body. I encircled them for a moment in time to see the daughter take a drag and produce a rich, dense exhale out of her mouth and nose that demanded my long-term attention. I noticed a bench on the other side of them with a great vantage point and took it. And the sighting was about to get some additional players as a couple of women about 40 years old approached the mother and daughter smokers who clearly knew the daughter from work. “I won’t tell them you’re here if you don’t tell them we’re here!” both women told the smoker girl, as if they were all playing hooky from work to come to the fair. It was such an odd context, particularly with the backdrop of this petite and slender young brunette mommy smoking away at her cigarette with intense drags and even more intense exhales blasting out of her pretty face. The women then changed the subject to the kid and more specifically the kid’s baby daddy. It was hard to tell if the smoker girl was just quiet or if she was a little bashful getting interrogated about the baby daddy and “whether she likes his parents” in front of her mother. As if there wasn’t enough going on already in this sighting, one of this girl’s dense exhales was whipped by the wind and blew the direction of my bench. A Mexican-American family sharing a bench with me took this girl’s exhale straight in the face. They had a child in a stroller too and immediately after the exhale hit them, they seemed annoyed. They were speaking in Spanish so I didn’t know exactly what they were grumbling about, but suffice it to say they got up and left in a huff and I’ll just bet my cute little brunette nicotine mommy was the source of their aggravation. In retrospect, this would have been the sighting I should have gone for a photo of as I was perfectly positioned to do so without arousing suspicion sitting there eating my cheese curds, but I was too gun-shy after getting caught a bit earlier. It was nice to just relax and enjoy a good show and she wrapped the sighting up with a final fantastic drag and heavy exhale before dropping it to the pavement and crushing it out. Since they weren’t moving away from the conversation I didn’t hold up to try to ID the butt beyond seeing it was a cork filter. If I had known all it took to get a great sighting was to buy some cheese curds I’d have done so 10 hours earlier!
From there I drifted to the beer gardens block and was putting some decent numbers on the board, albeit mostly with single-base hits of varying degrees of impressiveness. But it was when I was crossing the street towards the smoking area north of the beer gardens block when the girl of the day crossed in front of me. There were actually two girls, both about 17 or 18, one blond and one brunette, identically dressed in sexy white bare midriff tops with skin-tight black pants on their bottoms. They weren’t leggings but they were slacks just about as tight as leggings. Both girls were gorgeous but the brunette was hotter…and she happened to be the one wielding a freshly lit cigarette to become Sighting #189. The crowd was dense on this block and they were heading in the direction of the teen huddle at the edge of the midway where the crowd was about to get much, much denser. The brunette was attending to her cigarette quite regularly with fantastic drags and exhales. But the challenge of the day was about to emerge as they were about to penetrate this mass of teenage humanity. The girls grasped each other’s hands, not because they were lesbian lovers, but so they wouldn’t lose each other amidst this outrageously dense crowd. My difficult task was to follow directly behind her without having a part of her anatomy to hold on to the way the blond friend did, tempting as it was to grab hold of that killer ass in those tight pants and have her lead me through the crowd that way……
Exciting as this sighting was already, it got that much more exciting as the three of us broke through the crowd. If I broke my concentration even for a second and let someone else get in front of me, I’d lose her in this huddle and I wasn’t gonna let that happen because her performance was incredible. In the past when I’ve seen smokers try to break though this huddle, they held their cigarette cupped in their hand to avoid burning anyone, but this girl wasn’t gonna allow this dense crowd to alter her nicotine consumption in any way, taking copious drags with head-spinning frequency and exhaling with reckless abandon. I doubt there was any smoker in all of America last night who was forcing more nonsmokers to choke on their secondhand smoke than this girl as her exhales were expelled from her facial orifices into whoever happened to be in their way. My God it was sexy! And for as many people getting some degree of direct or indirect exposure to her secondhand smoke, nobody else was getting violated nearly to the degree that I was as there was always some blowback from her exhales into my face, only a second or two removed from being inside her lungs. It took about three minutes to break through this crowd and we surfaced on the northern edge of the huddle near the bathrooms where more friends met the two I followed. They were all girls and all in the 17 range. None were smokers and while all were cuties, none were as hot or as sexily dressed as the blond or especially the brunette who immersed themselves in their group. The brunette continued to smoke her cigarette and I welcomed the opportunity for a sedentary closing to this sighting as I watched her continue to puff away and exhale nicely in the company of these nonsmoking friends. The smoker got on her phone to make a quick call amidst the final couple of drags from her cigarette. Much as I wanted a photo, it was too dark and the lighting was too bad to make it worth the risk so I just enjoyed the rest of the show before she tossed the remains of her cork filter cigarette to the ground. The crowd was way too dense to try to score a butt ID so I walked away, content to have finally gotten a comprehensive sighting of a young hottie with a great storyline. As “sightings of the day” at the Minnesota State Fair go, this wasn’t top-tier per my standard, but it was a relief to have gotten at least one electric moment on this generally disappointing day.
It was well after 9:00 now and while I was still hopeful for more great finds, I would at this point be content to simply break my all-time sightings record for the day and kept that as an objective. I was well on my way and would get closer to that mark with the help of Sighting #195 on Dan Patch Avenue east of the grandstand, a young couple about 21 both standing on the grass smoking apparently waiting for one of their mothers to get out of the line for food. The girl wasn’t a stunning beauty but she was a petite dark blond in a black hoodie whose tiny body was concealed in a form-fitting pair of black and pink leggings. Her profile from afar made her look like a teenager but up close it was obvious she was a young adult with a very mature habit as she consumed her cigarette drag by drag. Nothing out of the ordinary style-wise but it was a cute image given her size and wardrobe.
It was a short trip from there to the berm seating area east of the grandstand. The Weezer concert was ongoing at this point so the crowds around here were thinning, but there was a lookalike duo of attractive young females I figured were probably sisters. The younger sister was blond and looked about 18, not smoking. But the older sister looked more like 21 or 22, was a light brunette wearing a jean jacket and black leggings with holes in the knees, drinking a beer and smoking a freshly lit cork filter cigarette. I had to sit to the left of the duo on the berm with the nonsmoking sister closest to me, which I figured would obstruct my view completely, but by leaning forward just a little I’d get a pretty good show from Sighting #197. It’s a very dark spot so when that cigarette approached her mouth, the cherry lit bright as she took a drag. From there, I always awaited the exhale to follow….but I never saw it. After the first drag I thought I just missed it. After the second drag I figured I must not be looking at the right place as she was possibly turning her mouth the other direction. But then it just kept happening, with her intense drags never seeming to produce any smoke. My guess is she was a thin exhaler and I couldn’t see her exhaust in these dark conditions but I don’t ever recall watching a smoker produce absolutely zero smoke from the back end like this one. I would eventually walk to another location across from them where I could look straight at her pretty face as she smoked. I was able to see two more drags….again with no follow-up exhale. Not sure if this girl’s respiratory system is only capable of breathing in and not breathing out but it was one of the oddest shows I’ve ever seen….and another extra-base hit needed to give this evening some life at the end of a long and mostly dull day.
And I’d reach the double-century threshold with another solid extra base hit….and did so on the midway which actually turned out to be an above-average venue for me yesterday. I was only doing a half loop as the 10:00 hour approached and checked out the largely abandoned designated smoking area in the center while this early-to-mid-20s super-wholesome light brunette approached with her boyfriend. I had her in mind as a possible smoker even as unlikely as she looked with her shoulder length light brown hair, a white blouse, and jeans, and sure enough, she was reaching into her purse and extracting a pack of Camel Menthols. She went to an unfortunately placed bench where she would become Sighting #200, removing the cigarette from the pack and frantically searching her purse for a lighter. I was sitting in nearby bench that would theoretically be a decent vantage point but her Adam Sandler-lookalike boyfriend was sitting to her right and obstructing my view. And for a good minute there was nothing to see as she just couldn’t find her lighter in her purse, but thankfully an unlikely guardian angel came to her rescue and produced a lighter….a middle-aged woman working the carnival. The smoker girl was thankful and welcomed the light to bring her cigarette to life. After that, however, the carnival woman continued to talk to her and my sense was that she was kind of annoyed by it, hoping to enjoy a cigarette in peace with her nonsmoking boyfriend. Either way, the context was beautiful as this carnival worker gal recognized this distressed damsel was struggling to get her cigarette lit and came to her rescue, and that a smoker girl this wholesome was in a relationship with a guy who didn’t smoke. I had to abandon this bench I was sitting on because I couldn’t see the girl at all, but doing so exposed me in an awkward position. I still was able to stand around for about three drags before my presence was arousing suspicion and I had to leave, disappointed I didn’t get a full sighting or a photo. It was another sighting that on a different day in a different setting with additional context may have had epic potential, but the best I could settle for here as I walked away halfway through her cigarette was an extra-base hit.
It was almost 10:00 now and I had a little over a half hour left before meeting my parents. I was close to giving up on the truly electric sighting I’d been hoping for all day but hadn’t gotten and at this point simply wanted to break my previous record of 212 sightings, and I was chipping away at it pretty good. I was making a final pass of the International Bazaar area for the evening as I approached the tipping point. An attractive mid-20s girl-next-door brunette was smoking with her boyfriend to become Sighting #210. A group of four mid-20s women sitting on a bench across from the International Bazaar included two of them who were smoking to become Sightings #211 and #212, tying my previous record with nearly 20 minutes to go.
It would be the block in the center of the fairgrounds right in front of Ye Old Mill, a part of the grounds I tend not to get to often because it’s never been a sightings hotspot, where a new record would be reached. A couple in their mid-to-late 20s was standing up in front of a bench where a group of four sat that included three women. The blond standing up was extracting a pack of Marlboro Smooths from her purse and lit one up to become Sighting #213. She wasn’t a bombshell but was pretty attractive in her tanktop and jean shorts, taking a single drag off the light-up from the cigarette and then handing it to an overweight 30-something blond on the bench. The heavyset blond didn’t seem too eager to give the Marlboro Smooth back from the girl who gave it to her, even when she held her out her hand. But the generous cigarette provider said, “You know what…why don’t you guys share that one” to the heavyset woman and the more attractive younger blond sitting next to her as she dug out her purse to extract another cigarette and fired up her second in the last minute. Meanwhile, the heavyset blond handed the cigarette she was bequeathed to the younger and more attractive girl next to her who took a drag and became Sighting #214. The best smoker and most interesting girl of the three was still the girl with the pack of Marlboro Smooths in her purse though, particularly since her boyfriend/husband standing next to her was not a smoker. The evening hours have not been what they used to be in the last couple of years so even with 148 sightings by 7:00, there was no guarantee I’d break my all-time one-day record at the Minnesota State Fair, but I just did so with 10 minutes left to walk past the beer gardens block one last time.
And on top of stitching together a handful more sightings to pad my record one-day harvest, my takeaway image in those fleeting minutes at the 2016 Minnesota State Fair was not a new sighting or even an encore from earlier in the day…..it was a girl from last Sunday! I said last Sunday that Sighting #131, the tall, beautiful brunette in the yellow flower-print dress with wavy hair going all the way down her back looked familiar and wondered if I had seen her at the Minnesota State Fair in the past. That hypothesis got some further vindication last night as I saw the same girl earlier on the grounds, wearing a sexy white top and short black shorts with her extremely long legs extending into a pair of those new “gladiator boots” for women with a skeletal frame of laces that look like they’d be a devil to get on. Seeing her in that outfit before dark made me wish I could get an encore sighting from her last night, and as I was making that final pass around the beer gardens block, I saw her with a group of friends settling near a bench with beers in their hands. I was running out of time but I knew there was a good chance I’d soon get a reward. And sure enough, her purse opened and out came a fresh pack of Camel Menthols which she sexily began to pack against her knee before opening up. It was like 10:28 and her slow moving was annoying me but she came through when she opened the pack and inserted a cigarette into her mouth, the only one in the group smoking, before firing up. I stuck around for a couple of the nice, deep drags I remembered she had taken the prior week. I’d have loved to stick around for the whole show but leaving my parents waiting at 10:30 would be hazardous to my health so I abandoned ship after the first two drags, satisfied with that final image even though the day was a disappointment.
Oddly, the sightings count still wasn’t over as we crossed the street en route to the parking lot as there was a young couple waiting outside their car, both smoking. I didn’t get a great look at the brunette early 20s girl in a tanktop and jean shorts but she looked sexy as hell and easy to count as Sighting #220. It was a weird way to end the night as the next thing I know the boyfriend is moving towards me with this barking, out of control dog on a leash. I didn’t know what to make of it until they got close enough to realize this wasn’t a dog but some toy operating on battery power that sounds and moves like a dog and must be hard to control since he was really struggling with it. Hard to imagine my last sighting of a 220-sighting day would be the weirdest but this one definitely was.
The last thing I ever figured was that I’d climb into the car after a 220-sighting day disappointed, but I was. With all those sightings, the odds were so against the idea of none of them being incredible sightings. I don’t think I really set the expectations bar too high either because I’ve been doing this for years and the patterns are pretty predictable. Not once in the last decade have I spent so long at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds and not walked away with at least one borderline epic moment. I scored a decent assortment of extra-base hits but was below average even with them. I’m so glad I had a great Day 1 at this year’s MNSF or I’d have been distraught about my lack of incredible moments throughout the 2016 fair season. It didn’t help that there were a good 10 sightings this fair season that had genuine star power but either fizzled out too quickly or never happened at all, a far higher failure rate than most years when I usually only get two or three logistical misfires. As for the explanation for why in an era of plummeting smoking rates I managed to break a six-year-old record for most sightings in one day, that answer is pretty easy. There were 260,000+ people at the Minnesota State Fair on Saturday, a one-day attendance record and 83,000 more people than were there the previous Sunday when I was there.
Labor Day and the week that follows is always my least favorite time of year, but some years I take it more in stride than others. This year, with a little bit of disappointment towards the fair season that just ended for 11 months and some highs and lows in my personal life having just turned 39 years old last week, I’m feeling pretty down as I wrap up this writeup. I have to put it in perspective though and appreciate that thanks to the huge numbers on Saturday, September 3, 2016, I wrapped up the 2016 fair season with 756 overall sightings, 20 more than last season. I won’t see smoking by females to this degree again anytime soon, but I can also rest easy that the habit is not yet in full-scale collapse and there will assuredly be more hotties out smoking next year.