In recent years I’ve tried to downplay expectations some at the Minnesota State Fair because of the hostile smoking culture and ridiculously high prices of Minnesota cigarettes. Yet just about every year those expectations get exceeded. Part of it is attendance as with more than 200,000 attendees at the Minnesota State Fair pretty much every decent-weather weekend day, there is just a greater likelihood that a number of them will be smokers. Still, I can’t explain the explosive day of sightings I pulled off on August 24, 2019, a day that started good, stayed great, and ended with a flourish reflective of what I used to expect from nights at the MNSF a decade ago. It wasn’t as though there was a ton of sightings that will be first-ballot Hall of Famers…it was just a steady litany of extra-base hits. And defying all conventional wisdom to keep myself out of trouble, I took big risks with my camera and got big rewards, scoring decent-to-great pics of just about all of the worthwhile girls, even those I saw at night. I ended up with 181 sightings, which isn’t that much above the recent average, but it’s reasonable to believe that number could have hit 200 if I wasn’t sidelined by so much quality, which is the best reason to fall short of numerical benchmarks!
The day got off to a rocky start. Once again, I rode in with my parents as has been the family tradition going back to 1986. The forecasted sunny and 77 was being stymied by a wave of early clouds, which for me always affects morale. Furthermore, the fairgrounds parking lot filled up two cars before we were able to pull in….at 8:35 a.m.! We then had to forage for private parking and ended up in someone’s driveway, walking even further than usual and going in a different gate, which was a wet blanket on my decadeslong traditions and a bit of a buzzkill. I’d walk past one of the designated smoking areas and get my first sighting of the day within about a minute of arrival, but it was still gonna take a little while before I could shake the early disruption to my cherished routine.
But only about 20 minutes after arrival, I got my first indication that yesterday was gonna be something special when I walked up to the designated smoking area east of the grandstand and spotted a young hottie with a cigarette. A trio of two guys a girl in their mid-20s were all standing near the community ashtray and the long-haired light brunette became Sighting #3 the second I laid eyes on her, decked out in this black mini-dress with some kind of stockings underneath. She had serious potential for greatness but her show was brief as the cigarette was half-smoked when I arrived and I only saw three drags. I readied my camera and scored a couple of quality dragging shots, but once I settled in to see her performance she was tossing the butt into the ashtray. I admired her beauty one final time as she prepared to walk away, and even though I’d have preferred to have gotten more from her, I was still feeling great to have put my first major point on the board with such an impressive girl.
My good fortunes would continue as I proceeded to the smoking area in front of the dairy building on the fairgrounds’ south side. Some years this smoking area doesn’t produce much of anything worth mentioning but it certainly had a couple of marquee moments this year. At pretty much the same time, I spotted Sighting #4 with my left eye and Sighting #5 with my right eye. Sighting #4 was a late 20s blond smoking with her mother. Her long blond hair was in a ponytail and she was wearing a conservative flannel shirt and dark jeans. It would have been harder for anyone to give off a more girl next door image and she definitely didn’t look like a smoker, but there she was puffing away with mom and I took a couple of dragging photos to prove it. Her style was nice if not distinctive in any way and I got to see her smoke most of the cigarette before putting it out in the community ashtray. This left me to Sighting #5, which started with a long-haired early-to-mid 20s light brunette holding an unlit cigarette in one hand and a platter of fair food in the other, approaching her boyfriend who was leaning against the dairy building wall smoking. She simply couldn’t wait till she finished eating to smoke her cigarette and I’d get a yummy smoking while eating sighting as she lit up, alternating from a bite of her food to a drag from her cigarette, although to be fair it did seem like the food was the higher priority as she smoked pretty slowly. She looked pretty badass with a pair of sunglasses coupled with a gray tanktop and dark jeans, and when she did take a drag it was delicious watching messy blobs of smoke exhaled into the airspace from which she was eating her food only seconds later. I got a couple of holding pics from different directions but this was one of the sightings where I had an inexplicable camera fail and most of my pics didn’t take. With as slowly as she was smoking I left before the show ended, but I continued to feel good about a time of day at the MNSF where that’s not always the case, scoring extra-base hit sightings before 10 a.m.!
One spot that’s been a gold mine in recent years is the alley separating the beer gardens block with the sheep building. There’s a row of port-a-johns there which makes it an optimal place for a smoke break for fairgoers. It was there I’d get a sighting of a duo of couples who looked early 30s and wore matching blue T-shirts, and at least one of whom were parents as there were two young boys and another baby in a stroller. But for now the priority was nicotine as three of the four, including both women, were smoking. The first to light up was a short-haired blond with a nice body, the lower half of which was draped in tight black leggings. She became Sighting #10 when she lit up an all-white, and I got the light-up on camera. Bending down beside her was a chubbier friend who looked and sounded Hispanic, digging through her bag and fetching a pack of Camels, requesting the blond’s lighter to become Sighting #11. The Hispanic gal was more of a character and while I didn’t get the context, she muttered, “It’s still early!” through a talking dangle off the light-up, with smoke spraying from her face. I only got one holding pic of her. She was the better smoker of the two but the blond was more my type so I spent more time watching her as they both attended to their cigarettes till their completion.
But honestly I was a bit sidelined by both of their shows when I saw a familiar face sit to my right on the curb. I recognized this girl as the younger of the two blond smokers who worked the Tom Thumb donut stand at my county fair earlier in the month. The girl is blond and probably mid-20s but only moderately attractive, but from what I could see at the county fair I remembered her being a pretty good smoker. She certainly lived up to that reputation and then some when she took out her pack of Camel Turkish Royals and lit up. Sighting #12 tended to her phone and dangled that cigarette off the light-up for a good 90 seconds, taking multiple dangling drags from it before it ever left her mouth. Unfortunately there were two people sitting between me and her on the curb so a photo was out of the question. Still, it was a remarkable show and while she wouldn’t live up to that extended dangle again for the rest of the cigarette, it was still nice to be able to see her quality smoking performance from upclose compared to the challenging logistics behind the Tom Thumb truck where I’d seen her earlier in the month.
Heading back to the east of the grandstand, I saw a large mixed-gender group of mostly 20-somethings settling in on the pavement, and noticed that the middle-aged woman who I presumed was one of their mothers and a couple of the guys were lighting up cigarettes. But how about the cute light brunette in the black tanktop and jean shorts with her back to me? I didn’t have much time to ponder before I spotted a cigarette get inserted into her mouth and lit up to make her Sighting #16. The girl was probably early-to-mid 20s and struck a downscale resemblance to an early 2000s-era Avril Lavigne, and it didn’t surprise me a bit that she was a smoker. I couldn’t tell if the young boy roaming around in her presence was hers or not, but the boy was surely getting subjected to his fair share of secondhand smoke both from the brunette and the others in the group. A modestly attractive auburn-haired gal in the same general age range would soon light up to become Sighting #17, but my attention was still primarily on the original girl and I struggled to get a decent photo in from a variety of awkward angles as she took her impressive and timely drags, always turning her head skyward to exhale a generous snootful of smoke. Finally I was able to get one even if it wasn’t too upclose. Lastly, a mid-20s blond entered the group having just purchased some fair food….and then she lit up too becoming Sighting #18. She was modestly attractive and most of my attention was centered on #16 so I didn’t even notice until a couple of minutes into her cigarette that she was very pregnant. I think I’ve seen more heavily pregnant smokers this fair season than in the last five combined…and this wouldn’t even be the only one yesterday. When the light brunette finished hers off, it was time for me to split, but I was very satisfied with what would be the largest group of smokers I’d see of the day, which spanned at least two generations with the middle-aged woman in the mix.
Heading back to the beer gardens block I’d score one of my better finds of the day as I came across what I suspect was a father and daughter pairing where only the daughter was smoking. Sighting #21 was in mid-cigarette, a cute early 20s blond wearing a cowgirl hat, a black blouse, dark jean shorts, and boots with an orange sweater covering up her arms on the cool morning. It was quite an image, especially when coupled with the cigarette she was aggressively dragging near the curb, her middle-aged father waiting as his daughter destroyed her lungs. I got a few quality dragging shots and a holding shot, but unfortunately the show was short-lived as I only got to see three drags before she leaned down and crushed out the cigarette on the curb, denying me the butt ID and walking away with dad. This girl was more than worthy of year-end honors but I needed to see more from her, which unfortunately I wouldn’t get. However, all I had to do was turn the corner into the aforementioned alley behind the beer gardens block and I’d get another sighting that when coupled together with this one just might have the chops to make my top-25….
Lighting up a fresh cigarette was Sighting #22, a cute and wholesome-looking dark blond in her mid 20s sporting a red flower-print top and tight-fitting medium blue jeans with two young boys in tow that looked like twins. She was kind of hidden on a barrier in the alley where she sat to smoke, but there’s a convenient set of steps closeby to sit and observe while pretending to be texting, and that’s where I went. The dark blond knew how to make a good first impression as she put the cigarette in her lips for an extended no-handlebars dangling drag, letting it hang there for a good 15 seconds and allowing me to score a sweet pic. From there, a new player emerged in what I suspect was her overweight 50-something mother, announcing aloud that she was “stopping for a cigarette”, the chemistry between the two very clearly that of mother and daughter. I continued to observe this cute daughter taking down her cigarette drag by glorious drag, and while she wouldn’t duplicate that epic dangling drag, her continued body of work still impressed with deep drags and cloudy exhales, an awesome example for a couple of young boys who just might grow up with the fetish. She squashed the cigarette on the cement barrier she sat on and dropped it to the ground. I could see it was a cork filter but never got an ID. Securing her stature as among this year’s premier class of nicotine hotties, I’d see this girl again a full 12 hours later, smoking in the company of a guy in front of the beer gardens block. She was one of the first girls I saw smoking during the day and the very last as I was heading to the fairgrounds exit when I saw her, and it was great getting two separate contexts for her smoking show. I’d probably say the first girl smoking with dad was my favorite of the two I’m coupling together here since I saw them so close together, but I certainly saw the most from the second girl and the two of them complemented each other enough that I suspect there’s a good chance they’ll make my year-end top-25.
Along Judson Avenue and in front of the DNR building is a set of water fountains that I regularly walk toward for a drink over the course of the day. When I did so just after noon yesterday, I spotted a young couple sitting in a shaded, wooded area behind the drinking fountain, and noticed the woman was smoking. When I finished my drink, I walked their way to see Sighting #26 was a late 20s or early 30s long-haired light brunette in a black tanktop and leggings, having a cigarette while her nonsmoking boyfriend or husband waited. I got a holding pic but it’s not that great and stuck around for a few drags. I’ve seen sightings are just about every location imaginable over the last quarter century at the Minnesota State Fair, but I can safely say this was the first time I saw a woman smoking at this spot behind the drinking fountains.
Heading to the area around the Space Tower on the east side of the fairgrounds, I got my kind of sighting in Sighting #27, even though the woman was a bit of a plain jane. She was a mid-30s brunette in a black tanktop and jean shorts standing by herself and smoking a decent-sized cigar. There was an open set of bleachers near her and I took a seat, watching as she puffed away on her cigar in a way that seemed habitual and not just some gimmick for the day at the fair. I was too far away to get great pics but I snapped several decent ones that might turn out when I crop and edit them. I stayed for a good five minutes and watched her drag from this cigar, recognizing it was taking her away from activities at the fair since it would take a while to smoke and she was gonna stand here the whole time she smoked it. Amazingly, I walked down the midway a little over an hour later and when I wandered into the midway’s smoking area, there she was chatting away with a middle-aged cigarette smoker with another freshly lit cigar. We’re not talking some Swisher or Black ‘N’ Mild here. This was a decent-sized cigar that she had just lit. She and the woman stepped behind a carnival stand to smoke, making it hard to keep tabs on her, so I left after a couple of minutes, but this is the first time since my iconic 2008 cigar-smoking babe that I’ve seen a state fair gal smoke more than two cigars on the same day. Considering they were only about an hour apart, who knows how many total she smoked yesterday. She wasn’t really my type but it was still very sexy.
One of my briefest sightings of the day that nonetheless satisfied was Sighting #30, a mid-20s brunette in a black tanktop and flower-print shorts sitting on the berm east of the grandstand smoking. She was smiling as she looked onward to a woman with a child in a stroller and I originally thought they were at the fair together, but would later find out they weren’t and it was likely the smoker’s biological clock at work. Anyway, I was readying my camera for a pic when I noticed my dad was calling to let me know about something he thought I should look for at the fair. The conversation was brief, but still long enough that by the time I was off the phone, the brunette was crushing out her cigarette on the cinder block and walking away by herself. This would be one of the few “D’oh!” moments of the day where I mostly missed a sighting that had tremendous potential, but I was still very happy to see she was a smoker.
I’d been having great success with sightings of girl-next-door types, but the next sighting of note would give me a needed fix of smoking glamour as I approached the always-crowded smoking area near the main bathroom area east of the beer gardens. A presumed family of fairgoers was hanging out together but the two smoking cigarettes were the ones who most interested me, a presumed mother-daughter sighting with a middle-aged mother and a smoking hot blond daughter in her early-to-mid 20s who were both smoking cigarettes. Sighting #36’s golden blond hair hung over her shoulders onto a lavender top expanded in the chest by her ample breasts, with a pair of pale blue jean shorts on the bottom and some of the smoothest and tannest legs I’d seen all day coming out of the shorts. I got a holding pic with her legs uncrossed right away and then took advantage of the open spot next to her on the berm. With her legs now crossed, I just loved being so close to such a sexy female body, but since her head was turned to mom I wasn’t gonna get to see any smoking from this angle, so I stood back up to my original location and hit the jackpot, scoring great photos of the cigarette approaching her mouth and then wrapping her sexy lips around it for a drag. With photos out the way, I was then able to just observe mom and daughter bond over cigarettes for the final few drags, the chemistry between the two of them enhancing an already delicious visual with a haze of smoke filling the airspace around them. The daughter crushed her all-white out below her feet, which I was later able to identify as a Marlboro Light, before the group of four got up to leave. And while this sighting was solid enough to be among my top-seven or so of the day, it was still a little heartbreaking to see the gorgeous 21ish light brunette in the group, possibly a sister, who didn’t smoke. She was just as hot if not a tick more so than the blond smoker, but when getting sightings of blonds this hot, you can’t get too damn greedy!
I was maintaining a brisk pace of sightings all day, and on the other side of the beer gardens block at some point in the 1:00 hour, I got a sighting of a cluster of country-looking young adults in a cluster where only one was smoking, an early 20s light brunette in a blouse and jeans that look like they came straight off of a hog farm. Sighting #46 was cute though and I spotted her in the midst of her group, attempting and scoring a photo of her in one of the final drags from the cigarette, exhaling amidst the crowd. Eventually she dropped the cigarette to the pavement and crushed it out before publicly dropping a lugie from her mouth which landed perfectly on the cork filter cigarette she just polluted. It was a cute showing, and when she turned back around, I noticed the pack of Camels tucked into the back pocket of her jeans. Unfortunately this sighting had an unhappy ending as the dragging pic I got from it just disappeared. The only thing I can think of is I erased it via pocket dial, which has happened to a couple of my photos before. I try to take a snapshot of the ground after every great pic to protect against that but it doesn’t appear to have helped here. There were other pics that would have been harder to see get erased than this one, but it still sucked.
It was just about 2:00 and I was hustling past the haunted house to try to get in front of the daily fairgrounds parade at 2:00 before it headed the same direction I was going….and I just did with the horses and marching bands literally following me a few yards behind. But the best-laid plans never work out, and in this case, as I was walking past the International Bazaar, here stood this 20-something blond smoker in a familial cluster who I just had to get a better look at. Sighting #48 was the only one smoking in her group which consisted of a black or mixed race boyfriend and a white older couple which were probably her parents. She had shoulder-length blond hair with some cool-looking sunglasses, a bright orange tube top showing off her bare shoulders, and a pair of black pants. But her main attraction was the cigarette she held in the opposite hand of her beer and attended to regularly. I thought I had gotten at least one dragging pic but perhaps it was erased with the #46 pic because the three shots I have are all holding pics, but they’re all very nice as was her smoking show, with solidly timed drags and skyward-directed exhales that she spared her family and boyfriend from as much as possible. I stayed for a half dozen or so drags and then took off, having to make up some ground to get ahead of that parade as it migrated further into the east side of the grounds. It would take a couple of blocks but I pulled it off.
I mentioned before that I’ve gotten more pregnant smoker sightings this fair season than in the last five fair seasons combined, and the marquee pregnant smoker sighting yesterday was Sighting #50 at the Heritage Square smoking area on the northwest side of the grounds. It was a young couple who already had two kids, one young enough to be in a stroller, and both were smoking upon arrival, the late 20s woman in the final weeks of her presumed third pregnancy but still smoking a cigarette publicly with her husband. The couple was pretty downscale and there was nothing glamorous about the sighting, but the light brunette woman was still pretty cute and the brazen inappropriateness of her performance was a cheap thrill. She was sitting down, like the other four pregnant smoker sightings I got this season, and partially behind a tree in one direction and a stroller in the other so pics were a huge challenge. I’d never get a dragging pic but got a good frontal shot and some nice holding shots. The way she smoked it was obvious that she’d consumed nicotine slavishly through her previous two pregnancies as well as this one.
I’ve mentioned before that I see a lot more Asian women smoking than the statistics would suggest likely and with an abundant Asian population in Minnesota, I scored several yesterday. The first to really impress was Sighting #57, an early-to-mid 20s girl who may have been mixed race as her features were not as ethnic as most, but she clearly had some Asian lineage and had an Asian boyfriend. She also had a cigarette and a killer presentation in a white and black sweatshirt and a pair of sexy white shorts with a button fly that really accentuated her curves and showed off her smooth legs. A pair of studious glasses really complemented the image as the girl stood there adorned in virginal white in front of a filthy community ashtray smoking an all-white cigarette. I could tell from the rings of her cigarette that she was smoking a Marlboro Light Menthol and while she didn’t necessarily show any distinctive smoking features, the show was spectacular as she glammed up what is otherwise the most disgusting designated smoking area on the grounds. I got a number of pics, including holding pics, dragging pics, and when she finished her cigarette and tossed it into the ashtray, I got a couple of nonsmoking frontal pics for good measure to make sure I had a full body shot of such a sexy girl in such nice-fitting white shorts. And I had some time to do so because she finished off her cigarette a couple of minutes sooner than her boyfriend.
Another sighting with some distinctive personality was Sighting #61 in the smoking area east of the grandstand where a couple in their late 20s or early 30s was crouched down against a tree trunk and the brunette girl was preparing cigarettes for the two of them. Far as I could tell, she broke it in half, keeping the unfiltered part for herself and handing the boyfriend the filter and the rest of the cigarette. She had a slender body draped in a jean jacket and very tight leggings on the bottom, with a baseball cap covering her long brown hair. The pic is partially cut off but I mostly scored a pic where she was lighting up. After lighting up, she was pretty hard core about the smoking of the makeshift unfiltered cigarette, placing it in her mouth for an extended dangle and dangle-dragging from it with the cigarette centered between her lips. This image was particularly delicious seeing her crouched down in those skin-tight leggings, her curves on full display. She seemed to be aware of me by the time I got my last pic in of her in mid-dangle, so I decided I should split a couple of minutes earlier than I’d have preferred to.
The smoking area by the main bathroom area would deliver again next as I came across a cluster of friends where a curly-haired redhead emerged from the women’s bathroom eager to get in on the cigarette smoking of the guys in the group who were waiting for her. One of the guys opened a pack of American Spirits and handed one to her, which she would soon light to become Sighting #66. Her presentation was very sexy, with some badass sunglasses, that long mane of red hair flowing onto her right shoulder and onto the low-fitting white tube top barely concealing her breasts with a pair of medium-blue daisy dukes on the bottom showing off her legs and the curves of her hips, ass, and crotch. Her smoking performance was without bells and whistles beyond her overall top-shelf presentation, but the presentation made it and I documented the sighting with pics of her being handed the cigarette by the guy friend, and a trio of dragging shots from different angles, my favorite being the one where you can see her body in that outfit as she sits down near the ashtray.
Next would come one of my top-five sightings of the day and it was quite unusual in a few different ways. As I approached the smoking area near the dairy building, I spotted two ponytailed young Asian women, both quite attractive, with freshly lit cigarettes. The first my eyes would land on was Sighting #70, who was in her mid-20s and sporting a black tanktop and jean shorts. But as I took a few steps closer, I noticed Sighting #71, the even hotter early-to-mid 20s girl in pink-rimmed sunglasses, a bare midriff black top and this impossibly sexy pair of white shorts that had a fish scale pattern on the crotch that was just gorgeous in drawing attention to her shapely lower body. My first instinct was naturally that they were friends smoking together, but I’d soon find out otherwise. And as luck would have it, there was an open seat on the bench right next to them where I could watch the show and snap pics from a seated position with minimal risk. The early part of the show was great, with both women visibly great smokers with well-timed drags and producing some deep exhales. Most of my attention was directed to the flashier-looking girl in the pink sunglasses with the white shorts, but if this sighting had one drawback it’s that she had some sweatshirt tied around her waist. Now it was quite cool yesterday morning so I get it, but those white shorts she was wearing were so sexy that it’s a shame they weren’t fully advertised. Whatever the case, worlds were about to collide in this sighting in the sexiest possible way….
The girl in the white shorts was dragging from her cigarette but suddenly not appearing to get any smoke. It was at that point she made eye contact with the jean-shorted girl and asked if she could borrow her lighter. The jean-shorted girl happily obliged and the white-shorted counterpart lightheartedly kept the interaction alive saying “I don’t know what went wrong here” in reference to the cigarette that went out on her, adding “Maybe I’m just scared off from the flicking or something” as if she didn’t apply the flame to the cigarette forcefully enough the first time. I was snapping great pics left and right, with smoke rising from one girl’s cigarette at the same time as it was blasting out of the face of another. They didn’t interact again after the lender got her lighter back, but the show went on and it was delicious, the bulk of my attention directed toward that sexy girl in the white shorts. But if there was any risk of the jean-shorted girl getting overshadowed, she made sure to keep relevant when, in the final throes of her cigarette, some middle-aged nonsmoking white guy standing behind her gestured her way nonverbally. In response, the jean-shorted smoker girl started communicating with him in sign language! Apparently she was a chaperone for a group of deaf people and she made them stop so she could indulge in a cigarette break! Now I’ve seen smoker girls doing a lot of things with cigarette in hand….but this is the first time I’ve ever seen one engaging in sign language!
The jean-shorted girl stubbed her cork-filter cigarette out into the community ashtray first and headed off with a couple guys, who I presumed were both deaf. The white-shorted girl stubbed her own cork-filter cigarette out a moment later in the exact same spot and started walking off the other direction by herself. That’s the beauty part of fetishing at these fairgrounds. You know you’re gonna find some sexy smoker girls filling up their lungs with carcinogens, but you never know what kind of side story you might run into, and this was one of the coolest. Again, one of my top-five sightings of an impressive day and probably my best sighting ever that involved smoker girls of color.
The hits kept coming as I walked down the block past the International Bazaar and stumbled upon what I assumed was a mother and daughter even though they didn’t look at all alike. The mother, middle-aged and gray-haired, was the only one smoking as I approached, and for some reason I assumed since the mother was already lit that the daughter wouldn’t follow suit even though she was digging through her purse. I nonetheless kept my eye on them and was a bit surprised when a pack of Marlboro Reds came out of the daughter’s purse. Before I had time to get my camera ready to take a pic of the light-up, she’d already become Sighting #73. The daughter was mid-20s with a very Irish look, her long red hair in a ponytail and her fair-skinned shoulders on full display with a green tube top and a pair of dark jeans below. I got a few holding pics and a pic of the Reds pack going back into her purse but didn’t get a dragging pic for this one. I stood by and watched the show and the women were definitely quality smokers, even if their jabbering slowed their pace longer than I’d prefer. When the daughter did drag though, she produced a very impressive amount of smoke. They definitely noticed me so I moved across the street hoping to watch the rest of the show, but when they still noticed me there it was time to split. Luckily, I’d see them a couple of blocks to the north only an hour or so later breaking out their packs of cigarettes for another round. They were on to me so I could only watch so much, but I zigged and zagged a little and made eyes their way at integral times to catch a couple more drags. Gotta love when mother and daughter smoke together this day and age.
It was the second half of the afternoon now which is typically when the sightings numbers really hit their stride at the Minnesota State Fair and such would be the case yesterday. Looping all the way back around to the south side on Judson Avenue, I was walking near the entryway for the go-karts when I spotted a group of four 20-somethings where the only one smoking was a decently attractive blond girl. Now I’ve seen people smoking here in other recent years but it’s not a designated smoking area, but Sighting #81 sure treated it like it was. After another minute or so, her group just took off, and she brought the cigarette with her. The blond friend asked for a drag and got one to become Sighting #82. Even the starting point of this sighting was an area where smoking was not allowed, but now these two were progressing onto the busiest street of the grounds and filling the airspace with cigarette smoke for the hordes of innocent fairgoers to choke on.
Usually two times per day on the average trip to the Minnesota State Fair, once in the morning and once in the late afternoon, I explore the sparser north side of the grounds, which has a legacy of being “Machinery Hill” even though there’s not much machinery there anymore. It was time for a north side run yesterday around 4:45. I’ve gotten a number of iconic sightings here over the years and there’s four designated smoking areas up there, but it’s not without risk because it’s a 20-minute round-trip walk and sometimes you get nothing at all. I was just beginning to embark on my afternoon north side tour when I’d get my best sighting of the stretch outside of the bathroom complex where I saw a hot blond standing by herself smoking. Sighting #85 was mid-to-late 20s with long blond hair, badass sunglasses, a gray tanktop, and pale pink shorts covering a fantastic ass. This was gonna be a treat, I thought to myself as I approached watching her take a drag, and then responding with horror as she prematurely dropped the cigarette to the pavement and crushed it out. She began to walk back toward the bathroom when I approached her discarded butt and identified it as a Marlboro Red. Even seeing only one drag was better than nothing but it was a real shame such a glamorous girl finished her show so quickly. I got a couple quick post-cigarette profile pics afterward just to capture her image, and moments later her boyfriend came and they walked off. I guess this should have been my clue that the north side would not be kind to me yesterday afternoon. I’d get three more sightings on the walk up and down the long blocks, but all mediocres.
The grandstand act for the evening was country star Dierks Bentley and I figured he’d draw a demographically favorable crowd. There weren’t a ton of girls I can directly attribute to coming to his show but one that I could was Sighting #96 standing on the west side of the grandstand near the designated smoking area there. A big cluster of family and/or friends were hovering there, a cluster that didn’t make much since to be connected when looking at them. There were a couple of really hot early 20s girls in the group but none of them smoked. One of the guys and one of the gals smoked, and while Sighting #96 wasn’t one of my favorites of the gals in the group, she wasn’t bad, appearing to be late 20s with long light brown hair and wearing a gray blouse and blue jeans. What caught my eye was her dangling-heavy style, standing there with the cigarette hanging from her mouth as she talked with the group, particularly the guy I assumed to be her boyfriend or husband. The cigarette stayed in her mouth for pretty close to the majority of the cigarette and I managed a couple of photos where she’s talking with the group with the cigarette hanging from her lips as she spoke and rummaged through her money for probable fair concessions.
Next I would return to that beautiful alleyway behind the beer gardens block to find another winner in Sighting #97, one of the most wholesome-looking smoker girls of the day. She was a petite, long-haired light brunette who could have passed for 18 if not for the older guys she was sitting next to who both looked mid-20s, and I assumed one of them was her boyfriend. She wore a banana yellow blouse and jean shorts, a combination that really served her image well as she smoked with the boys looking very much unlike the conventional stereotype of a smoker. I sat on the same set of stairs where I was able to get pics of Sighting #22 earlier in the day, again scoring some dragging shots of this girl. There wasn’t much of a storyline but I watched her smoke the cigarette to its completion, drop the butt behind her, and then walk off with the guys. Definitely one of the sweeter faces of the day with a cigarette hanging out of it.
Fair warning in advance that my next big sighting won’t be everybody’s cup of tea…but for me it was the sighting of the day. Nothing jumped out at me as being too exceptional as I approached the designated smoking area east of the grandstand right after 6:00, but there was a bench in the middle of the smoking area occupied by two redheads. I’m leaning toward them being mother and daughter but I can’t say for sure as the older gal still looked really good and if she was the mother of the younger girl who was definitely in her early 20s, then way to go, mom, because you’re holding up great. Their body language certainly suggested mother and daughter though and I’ll operate under the assumption that they were. Mom was smoking a cigarette and the daughter was smoking a tipped Black ‘N’ Mild cigar, making them Sightings #110 and #111. Now I’m partial to cigars of any kind and to see a young gal smoking one publicly in the presence of her cigarette-smoking mom was always a treat, even if the daughter wasn’t entirely my type, with long red hair held up in a ponytail with a blue bandana tying the hair together on her head. She was very obviously of Irish lineage with very fair complexion that was fully on display in her black tube top showing off several inches of bare shoulders and bare midriff above a pair of tight dark blue jeans on the bottom. The ginger look isn’t necessarily my style, but she was pretty and was hard to look away from. Mom had long reddish hair as well but I’m guessing she was even more conventionally attractive in her heyday than her daughter was now. Mom could pass for 32 even now though I suspect she was probably at least 40 given that her daughter was old enough to be sitting there with a beer….and of course a cigar. This sighting was always poised to be an extra-base hit as the dynamic was sexy as hell and I was taking a number of photos, primarily capturing the daughter as she took semiregular drags from her smelly cigar but also getting mom in mid-drag on one occasion. I figured I’d stand there and watch about three or four minutes of the daughter’s cigar smoking and then move on, but the sighting just kept getting wilder and more impossible to break away from….
At one point a couple of minutes into the sighting, a middle-aged female fairgrounds worker stepped into the area for a cigarette and stood near the mother and daughter, striking up a conversation that I couldn’t hear. They seemed to be enjoying each other’s company, but for whatever reason in the middle of this conversation the daughter placed the plastic tip of her cigar in her mouth and just let it hang there, no-handlebars dangle-dragging the cigar while in conversation. It was a decidedly unfeminine showing…and it almost seemed like performance art for the benefit of this middle-aged fairgrounds worker gal talking to them. This went on a good two minutes, with the cigar remaining planted in the daughter’s mouth and semiregular drags belching out of her face and filling up the whole area with smoke right around the time mom finished her cigarette. I took a few more pics of this and most are decent, but the sun angle was such that there’s some interference. But that same sun that took a little away from photos lent itself to a gonzo closing act of the sighting. My redheaded cigar smoker in the tube top with the fully exposed shoulders was already showing some signs of sunburn but her mom was about to play the role of good mother hen and take care of her little girl. Mom handed the daughter a squeeze bottle of sunblock and the daughter was starting to spread it over her own arms, but then mom got up and stood behind the daughter, spreading the sunblock all over her daughter’s shoulders and upper back. For her part, the daughter kept that cigar parked in her mouth the whole time, dragging incessantly with one end of her mouth while belching out wave upon wave upon wave of filthy cigar smoke from the other. The entire smoking area was being overtaken by the massive haze of cigar smoke this ginger was pumping out, but nobody was getting it worse than her loving mother standing over her and applying that sunblock. Clearly no good deed goes unpunished as she was absolutely choking on her daughter’s cigar smoke to the point where I’m surprised she could ever see her shoulders enough to put the sunblock on! Meanwhile, the middle-aged fair worker lady was still talking to them!
I was scoring pics left and right of this but put the camera down to take the opportunity to walk through this wall of cigar smoke the daughter was producing and was intoxicated on the deliciously foul aroma. Now the daughter was spreading more sunblock on her own face, working around the cigar that was still clutched between her teeth and still pumping out smoke from her mouth. Sunblock typically has a pretty pungent smell, but nobody would be smelling sunblock on this girl as she was gonna reek of cigar smoke for the next couple of hours! I’m not sure I’ve ever seen cigar smoking this aggressive before and particularly given the context with the mother and the fair worker on the receiving end of this smoke assault, it was unbearably sexy. I suspect that part of the reason the daughter was supersmoking this cigar was that mom had finished her cigarette and was ready to leave the smoking area, but the daughter wanted to get as much of the cigar smoked as possible. After a good 10 minutes of this first-rate show, the pair finally got up off of their bench and the daughter approached the community ashtray with her mostly smoked cigar. Her body was pretty nice when she stood up, that bare midriff now on full display in a way it wasn’t when she was sitting down, and that fiery red hair giving her a distinctive look that I had to admit had won me over. There was plenty of good material to work with yesterday, but this one was easily my favorite. The wacky storyline and emerging background players coupled with the novelty of a daughter smoking a cigar in front of a cigarette-smoking mother was just the cherry on top of what was already a delicious sundae.
It would be awhile before I found anything else of that caliber but the 6:00 hour is typically primetime for Minnesota State Fair smoker girls and yesterday was no exception, particularly in the grandstand area where I suspect many of these smokers were having final smokes before the Dierks Bentley concert. The next gal to impress was Sighting #121, a brunette who looked about 30 who I caught a glance at walking by and thought I saw something white and cylindrical in her hand as she talked to a large social group that included some young children. I approached to see if my hunch was right and it was, an unlit cigarette cupped in her hand along with a lighter. But it was clear she was not gonna light this thing until she was away from the family with children, so then it became a question of how long was I gonna wait for her. It was hard to define her appeal as she wasn’t that much of a standout in beauty or appearance with long brown hair, a black tanktop, and blue jeans, but she had the look of a hard-core smoker girl so I figured she’d be worth my while. The family with kids separated from her after about a minute, and even then she didn’t light up, but she and a female friend were walking toward the smoking area east of the grandstand so I figured she’d make her stand there. And I was right as she was a few steps from the smoking area when she lit up, her body clearly bursting at the seams with a nicotine craving that had to be quickly fed. She moved around a lot making it hard to get photos but I got a couple that aren’t too bad, including of her in mid-drag with a large plume of smoke spilling from her face. My instinct was right based on her attractive but slightly ragged appearance that she was a pretty hard-core smoker as she laid into that cigarette and never let up with well-timed drags and cloudy, messy exhales, at one point taking a bite of fair food offered to her by her overweight and nonsmoking friend. Within about three minutes, she finished the cigarette off and walked off with the friend, and I was pleased with the show and with my instinct for keeping tabs on her and recognizing she’d be worth a little bit of time investment.
Also in the vicinity of the grandstand area, the next sighting came quite a bit easier as walking by an area not designated for smoking, a cluster that mostly consisted of attractive young women had one smoker amongst them. Sighting #124 was a cute mid-20s dark brunette with long hair flowing onto a pale pink blouse and form-fitting leggings on the bottom. Because of her location, photos would be a cinch as all I had to do was lean against a tree overlooking her and snap a few shots in isolation with virtually no chance of being seen. I caught her in mid-drag twice. She was a very attractive smoker with a decent smoking style, but I didn’t have as much time to linger as I’d have preferred as it was approaching 7:00 and I needed to meet my parents, so I watched a couple more drags and then headed toward the primary information booth area where we meet every week for some chocolate chip cookies and to touch base.
My goal is to have between 110 and 125 sightings on a given day at the Minnesota State Fair when I meet my parents and I was at 127 last night, which was impressive considering that baseline I set was from more than a decade ago when there were a lot more young females smoking generally. Did it portend a massive haul of evening sightings on the horizon? Probably not, I told myself, as in recent years the pace of sightings declined after dark at the Minnesota State Fair, a sharp reversal from a decade ago when the sightings started to skyrocket after dark. I have a theory as to why evening sightings aren’t what they used to be, largely due to the fact that Minnesota’s smokers are disproportionately from the state’s rural areas who are more likely to be at the fair during the day and be heading home in the late afternoon or early evening, while those staying till midnight are more likely from the Twin Cities where smoking has been in freefall in recent years. But right when you think you have things all figured out, life throws you a curveball, and in this case that curveball would come in the form of my best evening sightings haul at the Minnesota State Fair in several years, probably at least since 2013. And it started before I even broke away from my parents….
The information booth area near where I typically meet my parents has been known to be a refuge for smokers seeking a nicotine fix even though it’s not part of a designated smoking area, meaning I always keep my head turning to make sure I’m not missing a smoker hanging out there. In this case, on a cement slab adjacent to where my parents sat was a light brunette who looked very classy and professional lighting up a cigarette to become Sighting #128. I quickly made an excuse to separate from the folks and did some fancy footwork to circle behind them hoping to get a better look at this brunette while hoping I’d avoid detection by my parents. Complicating things further, I had a half full glass of Dr. Pepper in my hand making picture-taking a one-handed affair. Anyway, the girl appeared late 20s and had a more upscale aura about her than most of the other smoker girls I’d been observing yesterday, decked out in a blue tanktop with a pair of tannish-white pants below. She was smoking an all-white cigarette and looked like a time warp going back two decades or more when a girl as classy-looking as her would still smoke publicly, and in an illegal area no less. Her smoking style was solid, with a nice litany of well-timed drags and exhales, but I could see the show was nearing its end as her cigarette got smaller and smaller, and I wanted a photo. It was getting to be the time of the evening just before sunset where photos are blurrier, so two of the three pics I took weren’t great, but the third one is an okay holding shot, albeit partially obstructed by the glass of Dr. Pepper I was holding. I should mostly be able to crop that out. Whatever the case, with better timing, this one could have been among the day’s best as this girl was certainly capable of it. For now, she’ll just have to settle for being among the top extra-base hit sightings over the years that were sabotaged by my presence in the company of my parents for our 7:00 touching of bases. Still, it was only 7:15 and I had more than three hours of fetishing left to make up for it…and boy would I.
The Dierks Bentley crowd was now starting to pour into the grandstand so I ticked off a few mediocre sightings walking near the grandstand gates, but my next memorable sighting came when I walked the block south from the grandstand to the beer gardens block and saw an early 20-something friends group of at least eight sitting on the curb next to one another. Two in the group were smoking cigarettes. One was a guy in the middle of the cluster and the other was a sexy blond sitting on the far left. Sighting #132 had a pretty face and was wearing a black tanktop and a medium blue miniskirt. I wished I could have seen more but could tell when I sat down that the majority of her cigarette was already consumed. I only caught the last two drags but they were fun while they lasted…and I got one dragging pic out of it. She squashed the cigarette on the curb and it was obviously a Camel Turkish Royal based on the blond filter. After finishing the cigarette, she stood up and sidled herself toward one of the female friends sitting in the middle of the lineup. It was sexy seeing her vertical in that miniskirt and sexier yet that she approached the nonsmoking friend with her fresh cigarette breath.
As I moved next closer to the block of beer gardens, I came upon another cluster of early-to-mid 20s friends walking down the block where once again, the only one smoking was a cute blond. Despite the silly tattoo she had on her upper arm, Sighting #133 was a great find and struck me by how wholesome she looked decked out in a red T-shirt and jean shorts and carrying a schoolgirl-like backpack, illegally walking the streets of the fairgrounds with cigarette in hand and smoking it amidst this dense crowd of friends who had no choice but to smell the foul odor of her tobacco consumption. A mixed race guy in the friends’ group held out his hand for a drag. She smiled as she handed it to him and watched him take a single amateur hour puff before handing it back to her at which point she showed him how it was done by laying into it for two fierce final drags, one of which I got on camera, belching out the last clouds of air pollution onto the very busy block and crushing the cork filter cigarette out onto the pavement. The simplicity of this sighting and the wholesomeness of the girl made this one a sentimental favorite.
The hits kept coming as I walked next to the east side of the beer gardens block and found two mid-20s gals standing in front of one of the blocks. Both were smoking, and one of them was so wholesome she made the girl from the previous sighting seem like a badass by comparison. Unfortunately it’s generous to say Sighting #135 was “smoking” as she stood there jabbering on and on and on to the huskier and less attractive friend. Still, I stood to her side with my camera in wait anyway because she was such an impossibly wholesome sweetheart, her long hair a mix of red and dark brown flowing onto a jean jacket with a fringy pink skirt and brown boots below the waist, her smooth and tanned legs on full display. This girl absolutely did not look like a smoker so I was thrilled when I saw the cigarette in her hand. I became progressively less thrilled as I kept standing there and watched her not smoke it, eventually figuring the damn thing might go out before she finally put it back to her lips. I stood there at least three minutes with camera ready because I knew it’d be worth it when she finally took a drag. And finally it happened with a very solid drag that I perfectly captured. It seemed likely she was a social smoker just out having a smoke while drinking a beer, but I was fine with that given how hot she was. I’d have normally been tempted to watch the whole show but with this girl I figured I’d be standing there till 10:30 before she finished the cigarette if I tried, and time was of the essence so I moved on.
It was not yet 8:00 and Dierks Bentley had not yet taken the stage at the grandstand, so I tried to stay close in case a final wave of nicotine slaves was feeding their habits before the show started and I’d hit pay dirt with that proposition approaching the smoking area at the west side of the grandstand as an early 30s brunette trio stood in front of the berm area with two of them smoking cigarettes and an open seat for me on the berm facing them. All three were brunettes and neither Sighting #140 or #141 did much for me as they stood there smoking, but the third girl of the group who didn’t have a cigarette was really hot and was standing right in front of me, and I just had a feeling she might get her hands on the cigarette if I was patient…..and then she did. The duo became a trio as Sighting #142 took a nice deep drag from the all-white and then exhaled a jet at a 45-degree upward angle. Unlike the two friends, the new girl of the smoking trio had a nice, slender body, her long dark brown hair flowing onto a black sweater with a pair of tight-fitting medium blue jeans. It was a sort of fall-like presentation but it was a cool night so I was digging it. Her face was never fully in any of my shots but I got a couple of nice profile pics when she was dragging. The sighting really got some personality when the heaviest gal in the trio who did most of the talking started pointed to the hot girl and began recalling “when the two of us went on Chantix and tried to quit smoking”. Obviously it didn’t end well and I was only able to catch bits and pieces of what she said after that, but as if trying to retroactively quit smoking a second time, she then handed the all-white to the hot friend for the last several drags. The hot brunette didn’t have any hesitation taking hold of it and finished off the last four drags while the heavier girl kept jabbering, each of those drags executed with the same nice style, the escalating darkness of the night causing that cigarette cherry to glow brighter when she dragged and then followed up by the upward 45-degree angle exhale. It was a great presentation wrapped up when she dropped the Camel Light Menthol to the pavement and stomped it out. I walked away pleased with how well the night had been going so far, but the real test was coming now as the sun was about to set. I couldn’t have imagined just how great things would continue to be.
The smoking area just east of the beer gardens block and just south of the bathroom area always has life in it later in the evening than some others and was still heavily populated as I approached during the 8:00 hour to spot a young couple in their early-to-mid 20s sitting down for a smoke. Sighting #149 was an extremely wholesome and petite light brunette dressed conservatively in a T-shirt and dark jeans. I knew from past experience that the lighting situation at this spot isn’t great for sightings after dark but I tried one anyway and even though it’s darker than I’d prefer, it’s in focus and captures her in mid-drag. She was one of several girls yesterday who I found really surprising to see smoking a cigarette given her wholesome pedigree. I’m not sure if the boyfriend was responsible for corrupting her or not. Maybe she corrupted him! I stuck around for a couple of drags before moving toward the midway for my traditional evening midway run.
Before I even made it to the midway, I came upon a trio of two guys and an early 20s redheaded girl smoking across the street. This one may have not even been 21 and Sighting #150 struck a particularly impressive presentation with her long ponytailed red hair, black sweatshirt, and jean shorts, and most importantly, her height. She was standing on the street and was just as tall as the two guys who were standing on the curb. The pics are a bit blurry but the respective holding and dragging pics I got of her were still quite nice, but the sighting really got interesting next when it became mobile. The trio began walking across the extremely crowded street going into the midway with my redhead continuing to drag from her cigarette, able to spare the crowd from her exhales because of her height and her upward-tilted exhales which filled the sky above her with cigarette smoke. She weaved her way through the dense huddle of humanity, smoking at her regular pace the whole time before settling in with another group of mostly female friends, who she greeted with cigarette in hand even though they weren’t smoking. I hovered nearby and watched her take her last couple of drags and then litter her cork-filter cigarette butt on the pavement with one final skyward-directed exhale well above everybody else’s head. It was yet another solid extra-base hit that occurred right at the threshold of the midway entrance. In recent years I’ve wondered if the evening midway journey was even worth it anymore with as much as smoking rates have fallen about the teen demographic most likely to populate it. Suffice it to say I made the right call to keep the tradition alive as I was about to embark on my most successful march through the Minnesota State Fair midway….possibly ever.
I was planning to stop at the bathroom which also had a designated smoking area near it about 50 yards into the midway but was sidelined before I even got there when I spotted a mixed-gender cluster of 20-somethings standing in between two rides. Everybody in the cluster seemed very wholesome and none of them seemed like a smoker, but the one person who did have a freshly lit cigarette in hand was the ridiculously wholesome blond who looked least like a smoker of anybody. Sighting #151 couldn’t have possibly looked more Minnesota, with long blond hair flowing over her shoulders onto a conservative white T-shirt that appeared to have Minnesota folk legend Paul Bunyan on it, along with an equally conservative pair of jean shorts. Her face was just mind-blowing to see with a cigarette approaching it, but she did just that and she dragged hard with intense follow-up exhales and residual smoke spilling out on the second breath after each exhale. A bearded early 20s guy standing closest to her appeared to be her boyfriend and he had no choice but to bear the consequences of her fierce exhales, sometimes leaning into him with smoke sputtering into his face as she spoke. I snapped several pics and while the dark skies and carnival lighting blurred most of them, there’s one holding shot that’s completely in focus and you can really admire her wholesome face. There are a couple of dragging pics that turned out pretty well also. It was a great show all around when it was primarily her and the boyfriend communicating with one another, with him on the receiving end of her filthy exhales, but as the cigarette approached the final third she moved closer to the rest of the group…..
She dragged hard from the cigarette and exhaled right into the crowd seconds before one guy and girl in the group began to walk off and, remarkably, my smoker girl bid them adieu by saying “it was really nice to meet you!” with residual smoke still bursting from her mouth and nose. This was just the best little narrative spin for the sighting, knowing that a couple people in this group had just met my smoker and the first impression she left on them was to exhale smoke into their faces. The remaining emissaries of the group seemed to want to get back to the midway, but there was one person who was holding them up and it was the adorable blond still smoking her cigarette. I stuck around to its completion, enjoying every drag and messy exhale before she dropped it to the pavement and walked off without crushing it out. The discarded butt was a cork-filter Marlboro No. 27 and the group progressed into the midway in the company of a very smelly blond girl. Partly because of her wholesomeness, partly because of her smoking style, and partly because this was going on right in the middle of the midway, I’d rate this as my second-best sighting of the day.
Well that was a pleasant surprise, I thought to myself before wandering further down the midway, figuring that would certainly be the extent of my findings. Instead, I walked another 20 yards or so down the corridor of midway games to find a sweet-faced young brunette standing directly in front of one of the games with cigarette in hand. Sighting #152 was just adorable, a petite ponytailed brunette who may not have even been 21 wearing a gray sweatshirt and a black miniskirt. I think she may have been partially Hispanic which made the sighting even more surreal. She took a drag from the cigarette moments before the carny handed her two baseballs to throw at the target. It’s been years since I’ve seen a young girl playing a carnival game with smoldering cigarette in hand, the carny playing along and ignoring the midway smoking ban outside of the designated areas. I got four pics and two of them turned out, one holding and one dragging, and they’re just adorable. Unfortunately I got here a minute or so too late as she only had one final drag from the cigarette before she started tossing baseballs at game targets. It was a sweet drag though, the smoke flowing from her mouth as she dropped the Camel Turkish Royal cigarette to the pavement, stomped it out, and then prepared to toss the baseballs.
As I got to the far end of the midway, there’s a designated smoking area near a line of port-a-johns and even there I got a few decent sightings even if none where writeup-worthy. Now it was time to circle back on the other side and go to the bathroom near the midway’s other designated smoking area. No girls were smoking when I arrived so I did my business and then came back out to find there now was a girl smoking on one of the benches. Sighting #156 was another marvel, a wholesome long-haired brunette who looked early-to-mid 20s and bore some resemblance to actress Amber Tamblyn from about 15 years ago in her prime. The girl was wearing a light blue sweatshirt and conservative jeans and didn’t look at all like a smoker yet there she was consuming a cigarette….while sitting next to her nonsmoking middle-aged mother. The cigarette was just lit and I got a nearly complete sighting as I took an adjacent bench, enjoying a very relaxing and casual sighting as she tended to the cigarette at a leisurely pace while chatting with mom. I took two photos, one a dragging pic. It looks like it’s in focus but it’s kind of far away so we’ll see how well it turned out. The show went on at least five minutes and it was a good rest for my feet waiting for her before she finally discarded the spent cigarette to the side of the bench she was sitting on. Mom and daughter remained on the bench for a while, but right before I left the fairgrounds later in the evening, I’d see this girl again and while she wasn’t smoking, she was with a middle-aged guy I assumed to be her father who was. It was great to see the familial context of this girl with two parents, realizing it was probably her dad who she picked up the habit from.
As I sat in the midway smoking area admiring this sighting, the thought nonetheless rolled through my mind that I’d taken note of all day….that despite my good luck with sightings that day I couldn’t definitively say that I’d seen a single girl under 21–and certainly none 18 or younger–smoking the entire day. It was a sobering reality check that was reinforced as an attractive 17ish light brunette in a black bare-midriff top and jeans came walking into the area dragging from a Juul pod. Seconds later, three more 17-18ish girls followed, all very attractive and all headed toward the bench I was sitting on. The last of the four girls was using crutches and had some boot on her leg, most likely from some type of injury. She sweetly asked if I’d mind sliding over so she could sit next to her friends to which I obliged, continuing to watch the final moments of the ongoing performance of the last sighting. A couple of minutes passed before I noticed the first girl to arrive–the light brunette with the Juul pod–began approaching a middle-aged black woman on an adjacent bench who was smoking a cigarette and right away I suspected my light brunette was gonna ask to bum a smoke. I got my camera ready and successfully storyboarded the transaction as the black woman smiled and offered the girl a cigarette from her pack of Newports. With a beaming smile on her face, the teen brunette got lit up by the generous cigarette donee and she became Sighting #157, walking back to the bench with lit cigarette in hand. The only problem now was that she was sitting furthest from me on the bench, but it wasn’t a problem for long as I successfully made the move to an open bench with a direct vantage point of her. And what a show it would be….
Perhaps the one upside of these Juul pods is that they require deep inhales for maximal nicotine ingestion, because this girl was dragging from that cigarette like a mad woman, the cherry glowing bright red between her teenage lips amidst the backdrop of the evening sky. After a couple of drags, she held the cigarette up to the hot blond sitting next to her, who became Sighting #158 when she took a drag, albeit one I couldn’t see very well. The blond got another drag later in the cigarette, and the hot dark brunette seated to the left of her also got a drag to become Sighting #159, but beyond that the cigarette belonged to this light brunette who continued to devour it with insanely intense drags, a few of which I got on camera. She also had an odd habit in that after her monster drags, she held the cherry of the cigarette of her face and started blowing toward it, causing a few stray embers of smoldering ash to fly off. She did this three times on the cigarette as she smoked it, and I got one of them on camera too. It was a wonderful show and I managed to watch the show and take snapshots completely undetected, even though another oddball player emerged in the middle of the show to make the sighting even more interactive. This early 20s dude walked up to my teen smoker and asked if he could bum a smoke from her. She accurately responded that she didn’t have any and that she had in fact bummed this smoke, to which the guy didn’t seem to believe her, responding, “Dude….are you serious?” and then asking her again as if she was putting him on. The guy then turned to me and asked if he could bum a smoke from me, and of course I had nothing for him either. The middle-aged black gal sitting near me was the only one around who could have helped him and she was the only one he didn’t ask. As soon as this clown wandered off in disappointment, my full attention was back on the light brunette continuing to put away that Newport, a haze of smelly smoke constantly wafting in front of her face…..
She eventually crushed out the cigarette moments before her group of four stood up. She tossed the cigarette in the trash can and the four of them walked into the midway, at which point I finally got to admire the entire group, including the blond and brunette who got a couple of drags from her cigarette, both dressed similarly to the main smoker decked out in sexy bare-midriff tops with black jeans. I got a couple of closeup ass shots of both of them as they walked out of the midway and found myself really wishing these girls had gotten cigarettes of their own. Even if they did, however, it’s hard to imagine they’d have put on a show as memorable as the ringleader of their posse who found the courage to approach the stranger for the cigarette she so richly desired. She was the only confirmed teen smoker sighting of the day and ended up as my third favorite sighting yesterday.
I was officially out of the midway, my brain rattled that this declining source of sightings had delivered for me like it was 1999. But I didn’t have much time to process it as when I walked across the street from the midway to the corner of the beer gardens block, another young hottie with a cigarette was front and center. Sighting #160 was an adorable ponytailed blond wearing a plaid shirt with a green T-shirt underneath and a sexy pair of white shorts. She was the only smoker in a mixed-gender group of four but was primarily talking to a guy who seemed like a boyfriend or at least a romantic interest who probably got to bed her down by night’s end. I got a few solid pics in as she made eyes with him and dragged from her cigarette. The guy requested a drag and she gave him this “you think you can handle my cigarette?” look before handing him the cigarette and watching him take the shallowest imaginable drag and then handed it back to her. She showed him how it was done as she reclaimed the cigarette and took a powerful final drag before dropping it to the pavement and crushing it out. I only got to see three drags on this one which sucked because this girl had some serious IT factor and the potential to contend with some of my favorites on the midway had I seen her smoke more.
I continued to wander around the square block of bars on the beer gardens, where a live band was playing inside and produced a gathering of beer-sipping listeners that included some additional cigarette smokers. Among them was Sighting #164, an attractive mid-20s blond chatting with a guy who may or may not have been a boyfriend. She was smoking and he wasn’t, and she dragged copiously as they chatted, her body language giving off the energy of sexual interest in a way that made me think they might just be flirting. The encounter seemed like an old-fashioned scenario of a nonsmoking guy courting the hot girl at the bar with a cigarette and I got a couple of modest pics to document it, albeit neither dragging pics. One thing I gotta admit about this new camera phone….it does much better after dark than my old phone. Even if the pics aren’t in focus, I rarely get the massively blurred lines that made evening shots with the old phone almost completely useless.
I’d get one more great sighting last night and it came when I headed toward the Leinie Lodge where old-time rockers Herman’s Hermits were playing the free stage. A decent-size crowd always hovers near the Leinie Lodge and there’s usually a pretty good horde of people near the bathroom area on its west side. A long-haired early-to-mid 20s light brunette in a windbreaker jacket with white shorts stood alone fishing around in her purse. I got a good vibe something to my liking was about to happen and, sure enough, out came a pack of Camels from her purse. She lit up and became Sighting #166 in seconds and took a deep drag off the light-up, vindicating my instinct that this girl was smoking royalty. I tried to score a photo but the lighting was bad and she was constantly in motion making my job impossible. It was a struggle to even continue watching her smoke with as much as she was moving around. At one point she wandered closer to the stage where Herman’s Hermits were performing and I moved toward her. As she took a drag she gave off an annoyed sigh and started walking back in the direction she came from. Yikes…had I been that thoroughly busted, I wondered to myself. I slowly worked my way out of the area to see that it wasn’t me she was reacting to, but the guy who must have been her boyfriend who presumably just got out of the bathroom. The guy was a tall drink of water, well over six feet tall and a full head taller than her, and despite the grunt when she spotted him earlier, she seemed genuinely happy to see him as they were snuggling together. And that’s when the sighting got really playful…..
I walked a few yards away to try to get a less challenging vantage point for her smoking show, but by the time I had turned around, the couple was posing for a selfie in a most unusual position. The shorter girlfriend buried her head in the boyfriend’s chest while holding the camera up as the boyfriend was now holding her cigarette over her head in his hand since her hand was holding the camera. I figured the boyfriend was probably gonna take a drag from the cigarette, but he never did. He just held it for her while she took the selfie. I got a few pics of my own, but from too far away to be worth much. She worked her own camera a good 30 seconds before putting the camera down, reclaiming the cigarette and dragging from it intensely while looking over the photos she took of the two of them together. Either what she saw on camera or their closeness posing for the pics must have made her horny because she proceeded to snuggle her ashtray mouth up to his for a kiss, standing on her tiptoes to reach his face as he bent down. She then proceeded to lean over and start nibbling on her ear, the warm scent of fresh tobacco on her breath undoubtedly sending his body into sensory overload. This sexy show lasted a few moments and I did my damndest to score a photo but nothing was working out. When the adorable makeout session ended, the couple started walking off hand in hand, the brunette’s free hand clutching her cigarette which she continued to drag from aggressively. The couple stopped at the end of the line for the Space Tower where they must have been planning to take a romantic evening ride overlooking the lights of the fairgrounds in the evening. But she still wasn’t finished with her cigarette and stood there in line dragging from it for the next couple of moments before dropping it to the pavement and crushing it out. If I’d been faster on my feet, I would have gotten behind the couple in line and possibly rode the Space Tower seated next to her. Even so, I’d rate this amongst my five best sightings of the day and I continued to be in disbelief about how good the day and especially the evening were going for me.
I had kind of wanted to be near the grandstand during some of Dierks Bentley’s concert as he’s had a few songs I’ve really liked, but the show was on its final third and I was only now getting around to walking past the grandstand as I had too many smoker girl distractions elsewhere on the grounds up until now, an issue I hadn’t really anticipated based on the soft evening sightings of the last couple of years at the Minnesota State Fair. Since there wasn’t much smoking going on outside the grandstand, I headed back to the beer gardens block and the bathroom area next to it, where I’d score a couple more great sightings. Sitting at a table in front of the bathroom was a trio of 20-something girls who all looked three sheets to the wind, one of them with a cigarette in her hand and a pack of generic Pyramid cigarettes on the table. Sighting #171 was a mid-20s brunette who was giggling in conversation with the other two blond friends, both gorgeous but apparently nonsmokers, and at one point drunkenly knocked the pack of Pyramids to the ground. The girl finished her cigarette and then got some help going to the bathroom, her friend helping her pick up the cigarette pack off the ground. Less than a half hour later, on my way out of the grounds, the same trio of girls was sitting on the same table and the brunette’s pack of Pyramids was out again and she was smoking another one.
And while the first act of that sighting was going on, another sexy smoker was diverting my attention in the other direction. Sighting #172 was a mid-20s blond in a plaid shirt and white shorts who was standing in the designated smoking area near the ashtrays with cigarette in hand in the company of two guys, only one of whom was smoking. There wasn’t much of a story to her sighting but she was attractive and I’m sucker for white shorts. I claimed an open table and was able to look one way and see the brunette star of #171 and then look the other direction to see #172 puffing away. I got my final photo of the night of the blond in white shorts in mid-drag, and while it’s not as detailed as a photo during the mid-afternoon would have been, it was still a much better pic than I expected at that hour, the cherry on the end of her cigarette glowing bright red near her mouth.
I was making a final run up to the grandstand in hopes of hearing Dierks Bentley’s encore and then see the final wave of concertgoers spill out when the show ended. I was too late for the end of the show though as I was still about 100 yards away when the fireworks started going off, signifying the concert had concluded. It was a little after 10:00 so I had a half hour of fetish time left, not sure if wading through the hordes of fairgoers exiting the grandstand would be the best use of my time or not. It was unclear even of the course of the next 15 minutes as I wandered around near the departing crowds as I scored a handful of sightings but nothing too memorable. The best of the bunch would be as I was walking southward to see a middle-aged couple with their presumed early 20s daughters, one of whom had a cigarette in her hand. But Sighting #178, the cute dark blond smoker, and her presumed sister were heading for the bathroom, but trying to decide which one to go to recognizing that the after-concert crowd would probably make for long lines. It was cute seeing this girl who was the only smoker in her family discussing bathroom options with them with cigarette in hand.
I made one more lap around the beer gardens where I had the aforementioned brief encore of the Sighting #22 girl and also saw the Sighting #156 girl with her smoking father, along with a trio of new mediocres, and then it was time to take off. I’d been on pace for a possible 200-sighting day but was more than happy to peak at 181 because I found so many who were worth sticking around for an extended show from. It felt a little strange to be riding so high on the long walk back to the car with my parents, the day and especially the night having exceeded my expectations by leaps and bounds. Perhaps with as many people as were there I just wasn’t noticing the hordes of vapers and Juulers the way I did at my county fair and in Iowa and Missouri, but it just didn’t seem like it was as big of an issue here. There is still major cause for concern at the complete dearth of girls under 21 smoking, but there seems to be some indication based on what I saw yesterday that smoking initiation may simply be getting deferred a couple of years down the road given how many girls in their 20s I still saw smoking. I continue to marvel at the track record at the Minnesota State Fair where I’ve never had a genuinely “bad day” of sightings in the 20 years I’ve been pursuing them despite the state’s muscularly antismoking culture and shrinking overall smoking rates. I don’t want to jinx it since I have another day of sightings coming ahead there on Labor Day weekend this year, but based on this week’s precedent it’s really hard to imagine the 2019 fair season ending with as big of a whimper as it started with.