2019 Minnesota State Fair, Day 2

I tried to outsmart a Labor Day weekend weather forecast that was changing radically every few hours and got kicked in the nuts for it, delaying at the last minute my scheduled Saturday visit to the Minnesota State Fair until Sunday.  All signs were pointing to a miserably cold Saturday with a rising chance of afternoon rain while Sunday was “trending sunny”.  It didn’t work out that way.  Saturday was chilly as predicted, but there was a break in the clouds and some early-to-mid afternoon sun rather than the rain predicted.  As for Sunday when I made it to the fair, suffice it to say by late morning it looked like the day was gonna be a bigger disaster than Chernobyl, but I salvaged it to a degree.  It was by no means a great day of Minnesota State Fair fetishing the way the previous Saturday was, but the evening came together pretty nicely.  I only got 140 sightings, a modern-era low for a full day at the Minnesota State Fair, but considering I was sidelined for more than an hour by unforecasted pouring rain, it could have been much worse…and at various points in the day seemed like it would be.

After getting to the fairgrounds at 8:30 a.m. the previous Saturday and still arriving to a full parking lot that required us to pay more for private parking further from the grounds, I arrived at the fairgrounds yesterday just before 8 a.m. with the folks and we easily got a parking space.  By now we knew the day was gonna be mostly cloudy, but at that point I had no idea that an hourlong downpour was only two hours away.  I never like arriving at the fairgrounds this early because sightings are light and it makes it hard on the feet to go till 10:30 p.m. if you’ve been walking since 8 a.m., but I made a point to go through some fair buildings, ride the Space Tower, and relax with some fair food overlooking key smoking areas near the grandstand the first hour and a half.

And it wouldn’t take long after arrival to get my first sighting.  A trio of female fair workers who presumably worked inside The Garden building were out smoking, one of them a tall and attractive 20-something brunette.  Sighting #1 seemed like a real looker, but unfortunately she disguised it with a ball cap and a frumpy rain jacket, with gray slacks underneath.  I presume at least part of this was her work outfit while the jacket was likely for the chilly morning air.  It was a nice show though as she conversed and smoked with the older women, dragging regularly and exhaling into the cool morning air.  I was seated on a nearby bench and got a few photos, including one dragging pic.  It was a good five-minute show before she squashed the cork filter out under her shoe.  A few hours later I’d briefly see the same girl in a nearby designated smoking area out smoking with a male who was likely also a fair worker.  Unfortunately her feminine beauty was again hidden underneath the ball cap and jacket.  Still a nice way to get on the board though…and very needed since it would be literally hours until I saw something else this good.

As I said above, I was by and large phoning it in early on yesterday, saving my feet for later in the day and going inside some fair buildings to check out stuff at the fair unrelated to smoker girls.  I noticed the clouds rolling in were increasingly a darker shade of gray, but never really considered they could be rain clouds since the forecasted threat for rain was effectively nonexistent for the day.  Nonetheless, I walked out of the Heritage Center building shortly after 10 a.m. and felt a few sprinkles.  A few minutes later it was becoming clear I had a real problem on my hands as the rain picked up.  There’s nothing to do at the fair in the rain.  From a fetish standpoint, I can seek shelter under any number of canopies and overhangs, huddled with thousands of people, and try to find a spot overlooking where some people might smoke.  Or I could try to go inside a fair building, but of course everybody else does that during the rain as well and they become crowded to the point of paralysis.  I was apoplectic, but checked out my phone to look at the radar, convinced it had to be a quick shower.  The radar made it look a little more ominous, but at least it wasn’t a large cell.  I figured in another 15 minutes it would go away and hopefully that would be the end of it…..

…..but the rain just kept coming, harder and harder for more than an hour.  The streets were running with water and everything was poised to be a sloppy and slippery mess for hours, with about half the fairgoers walking around covered in plastic ponchos.  Worse yet, it could seriously curtail attendance by keeping some would-be fairgoers away at such an integral time of the day and prompting others to leave early.  With every five minutes of continued rain, the situation was getting more precarious.  I’ve been to the fair in the rain in the past, and in a few instances it’s worked to my advantage by keeping me close to smokers, but I was wandering to every outpost thinkable and not finding anything worthwhile.  Finally, at around 11:15, the rain stopped, and I was at a whopping five sightings.  Despite continued cloud cover, it was poised to get to the mid-70s and I could feel it warming up immediately.  Maybe I could salvage the day, I thought to myself, seeing as the crowds began filling up the soaked streets again.  But for every step forward there was a step back, epitomized by my next sighting near The Garden building…

A trio of cute 20-somethings stood by themselves, two of them with cigarettes in hand, but they were covered in decidedly unsexy yellow ponchos!  Sightings #6 and #7 were both cute, one blond and one brunette, even though they might have been a tick chubby.  But I couldn’t really tell how chubby they were or were not because their bodies were covered in this yellow plastic.  The blond made eyes with me right away and smiled, making my job more difficult of watching them smoke and sneaking in photos.  I did both though, watching as much of their show as I could and snapping a few holding pics.  The smoking was decent and the girls looked pretty wholesome to be smokers, but those ponchos were killing me.  I guess it was an interesting novelty to have girls smoking cigarettes while draped in yellow plastic, but not the kind of novelty I care to experience again anytime soon.

The ponchos slowly started to come off the crowd of fairgoers as the 11:00 hour approached noon, and the next sighting I’d get would be a girl who wasn’t covered in plastic.  Sighting #8 looked late 20s with long reddish-brown hair in a ponytail and unnecessary sunglasses, decked out in a white sweatshirt and black pants.  She was standing by herself at the designated smoking area north of the beer gardens block and looked like a pretty hard-core smoker with solid timing and nice exhales.  I got a few decent pics as I watched the show, hoping she’d be the girl to get some momentum rolling for me.  To a limited degree she was as I’d have a desperately needed mini-burst during the noon hour.

One of the girls with the most potential for the day was Sighting #11, who I saw at the smoking area on Judson Avenue in front of the dairy building.  She was a mid-20s long-haired dark brunette in a red and white sweatshirt with jeans and a very pretty face.  She approached the ashtray in the center of the smoking area next to a boyfriend decked out in cop gear.  Not sure if he was a police officer or security, but whoever he was I’d really have to be careful with the camera.  I got a few holding shots, but the one dragging shot I got was blurry.  It was killing me because this girl was so pretty and looked so hot with a cigarette.  She was putting on a decent show, easily outclassing the otherwise downscale crowd there in the smoking area with nice drags and solid exhales.  The show didn’t seem to last too long as I think she retired the all-white cigarette into the community ashtray a little sooner than she needed to.  I finally got a good photo of her as she was walking away, which was better than nothing.  This sighting had a ton of potential and I really hoped to see more of this girl later in the day, but the rotten camera angles I’d get for her photos were emblematic of more widespread problems I’d have for much of the rest of the afternoon.

I’d work my way up to one of the smoking areas on the north side of the grounds next where I found a late 20s or early 30s couple smoking, including a bearded guy and his blond girlfriend/wife.  Sighting #12 was a tick chubby but she wore it well and had a great smoker’s face, clearly a bit weathered after years of heavy smoking but still attractive.  She was wearing a pale red top and black leggings, and I got a pic of her just as she was wrapping her lips around a cigarette.  I sat on a nearby bench and watched much of the rest of the show from the side.  She smoked a little more slowly than my preference but after the disastrous 10:00 hour seeing any attractive woman smoking at all was sweet relief.

Some days the smoking area outside of The Garden is dead and other days it’s a gold mine.  Yesterday it was closer to the latter than the former as I got another decent sighting the next time I walked past there that included what I at first presumed to be a mother and daughter but looking closer at the pic presume to more likely just be a younger friend and somewhat older friend.  Sighting #13 included a very wholesome ponytailed light brunette in a blue sweatshirt and jeans who was sitting at a table smoking while her smoking friend stood next to her.  I never got a dragging pic but got a holding pic, and while she isn’t gorgeous she still impressed me in that she really didn’t look like a smoker.  The positioning was awkward so I only stuck around for about three drags but her style was solid with some deep drags and cloudy exhales.  This last trio of sightings all came in about a 10-minute span, leading me to believe the day might be turning around nicely.  And while it certainly turned around from the cataclysm that was the 10:00 hour, I’d struggle again quickly enough.

The smoking area near the Coliseum gets crowded out by this pork promotion tent on Labor Day weekend so I didn’t make too many visits to that smoking area yesterday, but one of the few times I did yielded an interesting double-header sighting across the street from the smoking area.  I stumbled upon a very attractive mid-to-late 20s blond with a lit cigarette in hand at the front of a group.  Immediately after I saw her, a light brunette popped up following her with an unlit cigarette dangling from her lips.  The blond and her boyfriend were walking forward but the brunette was calling her back, and I got a snapshot of her calling out with the cigarette dangling from her lips.  The blond came back and the light brunette lit up as they gathered around the table with a group of assorted ages, the two young ladies being the only smokers in the group.  I was ready for a good one from Sightings #17 and #18.  And the sighting was solid, particularly the blond in her black sweatshirt and blue leggings who had pretty weathered features for a girl her age, clearly the product of years of heavy smoking.  The light brunette in her yellow top and jeans was solid too, but the blond was winning me over more.  I thought I was nailing a bunch of great pics as I sat at the adjacent bench with my camera phone, but then I’d take a quick gander and saw none of them were taking.  I’d set the phone up again and wait for the next big moment…and again no pics.  Finally I gave up and just enjoyed what I could of the rest of the show, with the blond finishing her cigarette first and the light brunette following about a minute later, the group venturing back into the grounds after the girls finished their cigarettes.  It was a solid extra-base hit sighting, but I kind of let it go to waste by being too focused on pictures that weren’t turning out, save for that first pic of the dangling light brunette I caught at the sighting’s beginning.  It was very frustrating, and I figured out what went wrong with the camera phone, writing it off as an unfortunate anomaly.  Unfortunately, phone issues plagued me for most of the afternoon and while they didn’t completely screw me out of photos quite the way they did from this sighting, the fail rate was bizarre and extremely maddening, a good reminder that I’m putting too much emphasis on photos and not enough on enjoying a good smoking show when it’s in front of me.

And whatever momentum I had going with sightings at this point was starting to slow again, with the 1:00 hour not being particularly productive.  The smoking area in front of the dairy building would be the next to deliver as I spotted Sighting #26 from several yards away.  She was a mid-20s light brunette in a red tanktop and black shorts, holding a box with a mini-six pack of beer glasses in one hand and a cigarette in the other while standing in front of a nonsmoking boyfriend.  She was moderately attractive, but pretty chubby to the point that she looked pregnant in some shots, and she had some unflattering tattoos on her arms.  While that typically doesn’t make for a quality sighting, she had an IT factor that kept me mildly interested as I watched her smoke her all-white until the point she crushed it out in the community ashtray.  From there I walked up the street and bought some lunch from a vendor and decided to double back to the dairy building smoking area, not even expecting to see the red tanktop girl there again, but she was, smoking a second cigarette while chatting up the nonsmoking boyfriend and drinking her beers.  I was eating but juggled my camera phone one-handedly and scored a few dragging pics, and was close enough to see that her cigarette was a Parliament, an increasingly rare brand that seemed to have some cache among teen girls a decade ago.  Coincidentally, I had a classic Parliament sighting at this very smoking area in front of the dairy building back in 2015 when I got the Hall of Fame sighting of teenage “Sophie”, the dairy building cutie out on a smoke break.  While yesterday’s Parliament girl wasn’t within a mile of Sophie’s league, it was still a nice throwback to see another girl smoking Sophie’s brand at this same station.

I’d get another extra base hit at the designated smoking area north of the beer gardens block when I spotted a duo of dark brunette 20-somethings fronted by a girl with a vaguely ethnic look decked out in a black top and an incredibly sexy pair of white pants.  Sighting #28 was one of few girls wearing white on this dreary day.  I’m partial to white pants and shorts in the first place so when they’re as hard to come by as they were yesterday, they really stood out, packaging her lower body beautifully as she stood smoking with another guy that I presume was her boyfriend, and her brunette friend.  There was an open bench right in front of the trio and I had a front-row seat.  The girl had a really thick jaw that wasn’t really working for me as well as the rest of her presentation though.  From some angles I looked at her and figured she was mixed-race, but then other times I’d see her and think she was just a dark-complected white girl.  I still don’t really know which, but when I post the pics, people can certainly take a look and see for themselves, particularly the sweet shot I have of her cheeks hollowing in mid-drag.   After she took a few very nice drags, she passed the cigarette off to her dark brunette friend in a brown top and blue jeans.  While the first girl’s presentation in the white pants won me over more on first glance, Sighting #29 was actually a bit prettier upon closer inspection, and I nailed a first-rate pic of her in mid-drag.  Unfortunately, just after I took the shot, her eyes zeroed in on my camera.  I wasn’t called out for it, but she was definitely on to me.  Not only did I immediately put the camera away, I realized I couldn’t stay for the whole cigarette after this, waiting until her next drag and then walking away, pleased with the pics I got and what I saw of the sighting, but disappointed the show would be cut short.  It happens…but thankfully I’d see the same duo smoking again at the same smoking area two or three hours later, this time each puffing on their own cigarettes.  I watched from the side and got in on the second show for a few minutes, although nervous they were onto me.  Less than an hour after that second sighting, I’d see the same trio walking off to a very remote area west of the grandstand, the girl in the white pants holding a pack of Marlboro Smooths that was very clearly about to produce another set of cigarettes for the girls to smoke.  Unfortunately they drifted off far enough that I couldn’t follow and see their third cigarettes.  Still, a nice comprehensive show from a duo of girls who very much looked like heavy smokers and brought some minor glamour to a day otherwise greatly lacking it.

Crowds were considerable, the storm had passed, and the temps were warming up to respectability as the mid-afternoon approached.  The ingredients for success were now there, but I was struggling, barely at half the number of sightings by 2:30 as I was the week before.  While the rain didn’t suppress attendance the way I expected, it did alter the wardrobe selections of those who came as the grounds were full of girls covered in long sleeves with jeans and leggings covering up their legs.  The sad part was it was now in the mid-70s and too warm for all the bulky clothing needed during the rainy morning hours, but the damage was done.  I’m all for leggings and the way the fit girls’ lower bodies, but in the Upper Midwest I have nine long months ahead to see girls in leggings, and on the last weekend of summer I wanted to see some bare legs and bare shoulders.  It wasn’t happening yesterday though.

But I made the best with what I had throughout the day and evening, and one of the more striking “fall wardrobe presentations” of the day came when I approached the smoking area by the main bathroom structure and spotted Sighting #38.  The long-haired light brunette had the most incredible hourglass figure of the day and was decked out in a black blouse with a pair of killer leggings that framed those hips and ass just beautifully.  And there she was standing by herself with a cigarette!  She didn’t stand by herself for long though as this bespectacled female friend came out of the bathroom and seized control of the cigarette.  I got pics of both of them in the shot, but it was the less attractive Sighting #39 who was smoking in them.  And while the leggings girl had an awesome body, her face was more modest, looking less attractive in some angles than others as she didn’t have much of a jaw.  I suspect she was only late 20s or early 30s but in some pics she definitely looks older.  I was kind of annoyed that I didn’t get more of a sighting from her but maybe she’ll show up again later in the day….

The mid-afternoon hours were not coming together the way they usually do as the time kept ticking by, but I kept finding a few extra-base hits here and there to keep my morale from sinking too low.  I’ve had quite a few novelty cigar sightings this fair season and got another one at the smoking area near The Garden yesterday that included one of the few teenage girls I saw smoking.  A trio of less-than-attractive 17ish girls sat at a pair of corner benches along the wall, and while none of the three would have ordinarily called out to me, the most attractive of the three sat there with a vaporizer in one hand and a Black ‘N’ Mild cigar in the other, even as the other two weren’t smoking or vaping.  Sighting #46 was still a tick homely, with a skinny face and long light brown hair flowing onto a wildly unglamorous sweatshirt and black sweatpants, but she had braces on her teeth and this mid-teen aura about her that made it so surreal to couple it with the cigar in her hand.  I watched from a few feet away as she literally went back and forth between drags from the vaporizer and drags from the cigar, a middle-aged woman smoking next her who didn’t seem to notice or care about the cigar odor.  I got a few pics from the standing position, including a couple of her in mid-drag, but it was when the middle-aged woman got up and vacated her side of the bench that I took the opportunity to sit right next to the cigar girl.  Once sitting next to her, I got some close-up pics where she cooperatively clutched the plastic tip of the Black ‘N’ Mild in her teeth and dangled it while chatting with her nonsmoking friends.  I put the camera away after these impressive shots, taking in the smell of her cigar smoke from such close range and sneaking in a peak or two out of the corner of my eye when she took subsequent drags.  I hung around about 10 minutes and she began smoking the cigar more aggressively and leaving the vaporizer alone toward the end of it.  It was a good show and definitely one of the more memorable sightings of the day, but it was odd to be clustering in rather similar novelty cigar sightings in the same year.  This girl didn’t match up to the previous week’s Black ‘N’ Mild girl or the Missouri cigar girl, meaning I don’t think she’ll be poised for this year’s top-25 whereas in previous years I might have given it to her just because of how unlikely it was to see one of the only teen smokers of the day be a girl in braces puffing on a cigar.  It was nonetheless a needed burst of adrenaline for the day.

Providing even more adrenaline was the sighting that came next at the smoking area east of the grandstand where I came upon a pair of couples in which three of the four were smoking, but only one person in the group interested me, and from afar she seemed to be the only one without a cigarette.  But as I got closer, the cute, long-haired mid-20s light brunette did have an unlit Camel Turkish Royal in her hand.  I giddily waited with camera in hand hoping to nail a snapshot of her officially becoming Sighting #48.  My camera failed me on the light-up pic but I got plenty more quality shots before and after she fired up that really captures her electric IT factor, with her girl-next-door presence and an expressive face that really played to the camera.  The minor downsides were an unfortunate tattoo on her forearm and her outfit, a black T-shirt and black jeans that aren’t nearly as goth as they sound and which she largely pulled off, but which suppressed some of her feminine energy.  I lamented the alternative scenario of a hotter day where she was decked out in sexy summer attire more worthy of her.  Still, the main event of this sighting or any sighting was the smoking, and I was curious how she’d deliver on that….and she knocked it out of the park.  Her drags were very intense, the cigarette puckering into her lips and tilting upward at a 45-degree angle as she drew in the smoke for several seconds, seeming to melt into her drags before releasing a very high-volume exhale that I was continually fortunate enough to be downwind from.  She was really living up to the build-up and I got a few great dragging pics…..

Some bratty teenage girl walked by the smoker’s area and seemed to have her eyes locked on my light brunette dressed in black as she loudly muttered to her parents, “Look at all these people killing themselves!”  In the case of my light brunette, it was hard to dispute as the way she was dragging from these cigarettes she’d be incurring some serious lung damage at some point.  Having a satisfactory haul of pics and sensing her group may have been on to me, I put the camera away and enjoyed the show, her intense drags and messy follow-up exhales repeatedly impressing and repeatedly drifting into my airspace.  I watched her smoke till the cigarette’s completion when she walked over to one of the community ashtrays to dispose of her Camel Turkish Royal butt.   Even though great sightings were not coming by easily yesterday, I was lucky in that I got repeat performances from some of the girls with most IT factor, and this girl was a case in point as I definitely hadn’t seen the last of her.

The next girl to leave an impression came in the smoking area near the bathrooms and east of the beer gardens, where a group of 20-somethings was hovering and one of the guys was smoking.  There were a couple of girls in the group who I was really hoping to see smoke, but neither did.  But standing in front of them was a tomboyish blond who was about to.  Sighting #56 was not yet official but stood there with an unlit Marlboro Menthol dangling from her lips as she was texting, decked out in a green T-shirt and gray leggings that fit her body nicely with a Nike ball cap up top.  She was by no means the most feminine girl at the fair but the presentation still impressed me, and the wide-open seat I had directly in front of her made the moment even more worthy of a few minutes of my day.  After a couple of minutes texting, she finally flicked her lighter and brought the cigarette to life, all captured in my pics along with her first drag off the light-up.  She now had the phone up to her ear which was helpful in that she was distracted, allowing me to watch her show and allowing her to smoke recklessly, exhaling without paying attention to where the smoke was going.  A couple of her exhales blew right into my face and it was delightful.  She got off the phone and then started chatting with the rest of the group who were all seated next to me, the one guy who was smoking now having finished his cigarette.  Everybody was waiting on her and then decided they weren’t gonna wait any longer as they all walked into the crowd, my blond in the ball cap and gray leggings still puffing away on her cigarette even as they drifted away from the designated smoking area.  She wasn’t my favorite girl of the day by any stretch but the presentation was memorable and I got quality close-up pics.

Far more frustrating was the next sighting I got in the heavily wooded designated smoking area on the east side of the grounds.  Two couples in their 20s were standing there smoking, and while one of the girls was only average, the alpha female of the group was a cute ponytailed blond in a tie-dye T-shirt and jeans who looked way to wholesome to be a smoker.  I was working my camera to try to get shots of Sightings #57 and #58 but, once again, nothing was taking.  It was immensely frustrating as the blond was a really good smoker taking regular drags with nice exhales all while leading the conversation among the couples in a very sexy way.  I was able to get one modest holding shot before the sighting ended but would have loved more from this one as this blond had a real presence about her.  When she finished her cigarette seconds after I got the one pic of her, I walked away, this being the only sighting of the day of relevance I’d get from the east side smoking area.

It was after 4:30 now and I was well behind schedule as I made my 20-minute late afternoon venture up to the fairgrounds’ north side and back.  I never want to ignore the north side completely as I’ve gotten some great sightings up there over the years, but there wasn’t much going on yesterday, yielding three sightings, only one of which was good enough for me to stop for a couple of minutes to observe.  Usually by the final couple of blocks on the north side, I’m itching to get back to the primary corridors of the grounds, and I’d get a pretty nice reward when I got to the smoking area east of the grandstand right around 5:00….

A duo of girls in the 18-19 range hovered in the smoking area and while neither was smoking, the more attractive of the two was reaching into her purse.  Out came a pack of Marlboro Black Menthols and I was giddy as I looked her over and determined she was probably one of the younger smokers of the day.  Sighting #66 had long, wavy brown hair and dark complexion to match, with a grayish top and a partially revealed midriff and tight pale blue jeans below.  I wondered to myself as she dug out that cigarette from the pack and prepared to light it if she was mixed race, partially Hispanic or ever partially black.  It was a mystery that would only get more confusing, but one thing crystal clear from the light-up is that this girl was a great smoker, a French inhale snorted up her nose immediately after the light-up with very aggressive drags and messy exhales to follow.  It was a first-rate show and I thought once again I was getting multiple successful pics from close range…only to peek at my phone to inexplicably discover I’d gotten nothing.  I’d go for a few more on her next drag…and again got nothing.  It was so frustrating and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out the problem.  And with as fast as she was attacking the cigarette, I wouldn’t have all day to get something.  Thankfully I salvaged one pic of her in mid-drag, standing there with her nonsmoking and less attractive friend who was waiting patiently in the stinky smoking area as her friend contributed to the stench with a steady stream of exhales.  The show ended quickly as expected and the late teen brunette tossed her cork filter butt into the community ashtray and walked off.  Had I seen nothing more than this, this sighting would have just been an extra-base hit that brightened up my afternoon, but I’d get an encore later in the evening that would only add to the confusion and the mystery.  I’ll get to that later in the writeup.

And while this smoking area to the east of the grandstand can always be counted upon to produce some of the better sightings of any given day, it also produced a rather jaw-dropping would-be sighting yesterday that stood out as a sign of the times.  A trio of decently attractive and relatively wholesome-looking 20-somethings began to settle in at the edge of this smoking area and as I watched one of the girls pull out a pack of Marlboro Lights from her purse, I giddily awaited a possible three-for-one sighting.  Only it wasn’t a Marlboro Light that came out of that pack…it was a blunt.  Right there in the open, she fired it up and then proceeded it to pass it back and forth among her friends.  In recent years I’ve smelled marijuana on the MNSF grounds, but it’s usually at night amidst a considerable crowd, but these gals were doing it out in the open in the middle of the day.  Marijuana is still illegal in Minnesota and I suspect that if any number of fairgrounds police had walked up and seen them, they would have been arrested.  As big of risks as I take with my photos, I’m still operating within the law, so it was pretty amazing that I wasn’t even the biggest risk-taker in the grandstand’s east side smoking area at one point yesterday afternoon.

Next I’d get my first of three encores of girls that left an impression the first go-round.  I approached the smoking area by the bathrooms and the beer gardens to find a familiar-looking brunette with an hourglass figure draped in leggings smoking another cigarette.  It was the Sighting #38 girl, only this time she had a Minnesota Twins ball cap on her head.  She had passed her cigarette off to her less attractive friend before I was able to get pics on the previous sighting, but here was my chance for a do-over and I got some decent holding pics, her eyes drifting my way on a couple of them as if noticing I was up to something with my phone.  Her friend was still with her and smoking once again.  The brunette was the better smoker of the two and, while attractive, wasn’t quite up there beauty-wise to make any year-end lists despite her encore performance and her perfect feminine body packaged in those leggings.  I’d see most of her smoking show this time and walked away pretty satisfied, but there were stormy times ahead…literally.

It was going up to 6 p.m. by now and the day was still lacking traction and momentum.  Worse yet, the skies that had remained mostly cloudy since the late morning rainfall were starting to darken again, even though the forecasters insisted there was literally zero chance of rain come late afternoon.  Yet as I ventured to the east side of the grounds, it came again.  This time it would only last 10 minutes, but my already despondent mood was flowing toward the gutter along with the rainfall as I stood under trees and canopies near the Leinie Lodge grunting about the delay at such a pivotal sightings hour.  I was grateful the rain ended fairly quickly this time, but also wasn’t gonna get comfortable with the idea that it was really over this time.  With the fairgrounds freshly wet again, I ventured towards the grandstand.  Even though there was no official grandstand show tonight with a free-of-charge amateur talent show onstage that I didn’t expect to draw much of a crowd, I figured it might still be my best bet to find some younger smoking females.   And I made a pretty good call….

Before I even got to the smoking area east of the grandstand, the berm area near the entry pillars was occupied by a frisky young couple featuring a mid-20s brunette, the nonsmoking boyfriend seated on the cinder blocks of the berm with his smoking girlfriend sitting on his lap.  It was a sexy show from Sighting #77, decked out in a white T-shirt with black jeans, badass sunglasses, and an unfortunate tattoo on her forearm, her ass parked on his lap while she dragged from her cigarette and intermittently leaned in to kiss him with her ashtray mouth.  I was seated closeby and got some nice dragging shots, her cheeks puckering up on that cigarette with at least as much intensity as she kissed him with.  He didn’t seem to mind being exposed to her cigarette smoke from such close range…and I don’t blame him one bit!

But as I sat there observing this sighting play out, a familiar face with a familiar body approached the general area placing an unlit cigarette in her mouth and lighting up.  Only about a half hour since her previous cigarette, the sighting #38 girl with the hourglass figure packaged in tight leggings was smoking again!  She was a few yards in front of me and since she’d already become wise to me at the previous smoking area, I didn’t dare to venture any closer, particularly given her isolation standing there.  She continued to strike quite a pose with that nice figure as she stood alone smoking her cigarette quite aggressively.  They were too far away to fully appreciate, but I took a number of dragging and holding shots with the wetness of the recent rainfall as a backdrop.  I still couldn’t quite get behind making this girl countdown-worthy for year’s end because she wasn’t good-looking enough, but she was really putting forward a solid body of work yesterday and it was nice to sit back and enjoy her cloudy show.  Unfortunately, she seemed agitated….as if she was waiting for somebody.  Even though she wasn’t done with her cigarette, she wandered toward the grandstand entryway looking around, eventually taking a final drag from her cigarette and bending over to crush it out on the ground, unfortunately tossing the butt in the trash and denying me a brand ID.  It was a great closing act for the day for one of the more memorable girls I’d seen, and also nice to see her flying solo and giving me a full farrow-to-finish sighting as the previous sightings had only been partials.

Finally venturing from there to the east side smoking area, I saw a downscale but cute blond standing with a cigarette next to another couple and she had a stroller with a small child in front of her.  Sighting #78 looked about 30 with long blond hair flowing onto a black flower-print blouse with blue jeans on the bottom, and although she was the obvious choice to be the child’s mother, the chatter coming out of her mouth directed toward the young girl in the stroller, who looked about three years old, seemed like that of a less direct relative or a family friend.  I don’t recall specific things she said but the tone and body language of the interaction was pretty adorable, particularly with the cigarette in the blond’s hand.  I stood there with my camera ready and when she finally took a drag, I got it.  I only watched one more drag before I moved on, satisfied with a solid moment from a decently attractive young woman.

After that, the 6:00 hour was kind of a bust, which is very unusual for the Minnesota State Fair where the late afternoon and early evening hours tend to be the most productive.  I was stitching together some mediocre sightings but was poised to be at a historic low leading up to the 7:00 meet-up time with my parents.  Given the rainy morning and the lack of evening grandstand show, that wasn’t a huge surprise, but still a buzzkill.  I spotted a trio of girls who I got a good vibe from, with one foraging through her purse as she walked past a smoking area toward the DNR building.  I followed just in case, but it was a false alarm, but while I was encircling the DNR building, I made eyes with this late 20s brunette who had the most guilty look on her face.  I didn’t immediately see a cigarette, but seconds later I would.  Sighting #88 was cute but too chubby for my preference, but I still stopped for a moment to appreciate her standing by herself on the edge of a DNR pond full of waterfowl dragging from her Marlboro Light.  A smoking area was only about 50 yards away but she decided she was gonna smoke, even though she was nervous about it as evident by that look on her face when my eyes locked on her.

It was going up to 7 and I was slinking my way toward the information booth area for the ritual meeting with my parents for cookies and brief conversation.  Thankfully, along the way, I passed the same berm area east of the grandstand where I’d gotten the encore from the leggings girl and this time saw another familiar face.  The mid-20s brunette who was Sighting #48, one of the more impressive finds of the day, was back as part of the same duo of couples I’d seen about an hour and a half earlier, and she had another freshly lit cigarette in hand.  This would be a high-risk trek as I ventured to the open spot on the berm near her and her group, and an air of familiarity spread across her face as if she remembered me scoping her out from the previous sighting.  I nonetheless took my seat and admired her profile in the matching black T-shirt and jeans, her expressive face matching her intense smoking style.  I was lucky that she was a little distracted by her phone as it allowed me to sneak a few holding shots sitting there next to her, but I wanted to nail another pic of her indulgent-to-the-point-of-obscenity drags.  I could almost feel one of the guys in her group watching me as I readied my phone for the shot, but I nonetheless pulled the trigger and nailed her in two shots wrapping her lips around that Camel Turkish Royal filter as it went vertical at a 45-degree angle in her mouth, easily my best two shots of the day.  Looking at them the next day, the guy I feared was eyeballing me as I took the shots really was, and it’s pretty impressive I got out of there without a confrontation, but I didn’t even get out of there immediately.  I slinked the phone into my jeans pocket and kept sitting there, watching her impressive show out of the corner of my eye.  And not only was she giving me a feast for my eyes, she was very kind to my nose as well, as virtually all of her extremely generous exhales blew directly into my face just as they had when I saw her smoking the first time.  Part of this smoke assault came as a result of the very high volume of smoke that always seemed to spill out of her lungs, but I also wondered if maybe she was directing the smoke toward me knowing I was there watching the show.  I stuck around till the end, watching and smelling every drag, but she unfortunately crushed out the cigarette and was preparing it for the nearest garbage can rather than crudely polluting it as I prefer.  It was time for me to mosey on out of there and I could feel her eyes follow me as I left.  I knew I pushed my luck on this sighting, but the reward was that after two solid acts that were pretty close to farrow-to-finish, highlighted by her expressiveness and indulgent drags, she was my favorite sighting of the day.  And you know, she might not be done just yet…..

It was now almost 7:00 so I swung by the smoking area outside of The Garden on my way to the information area to meet with my folks.  Despite that fantastic encore from the brunette, the clouds again appeared black to the point that it was starting to look dark even though sunset was still 45 minutes away.  I had only 91 sightings thus far on the day, the only time I’d ever met the parents with fewer than 100 sightings.  And with this being a Sunday night crowd without a top-tier grandstand draw, and not to mention a high near-term risk for even more rain showers, my expectations were not high for a decent night.  The day had been below-average and if the night were to go as I expected, this could end up being a historically weak Minnesota State Fair day.  But despite my misgivings, I’d take off at about 7:10 for the evening shift and had a surprisingly good comeback with no additional rainfall.  As I’ve said before, you don’t ever underestimate the Minnesota State Fair’s potential for sightings nirvana, or in the case of last night, simply an impressive haul.

And it didn’t take long to score my first big find after separating from my parents, even though it was unfortunately a brief sighting.  Sighting #93 was a very attractive and wholesome long-haired blond, mid-to-late 20s and decked out in a pink ball cap, maroon sweatshirt, and form-fitting leggings, smoking a cigarette in the company of a nonsmoking boyfriend or husband.  It was one of the more memorable presentations of the day that was tomboyish yet still feminine, and with a pretty face to go with it, the sighting was instantly an extra-base hit.  I could tell the cigarette was approaching its end, unfortunately, so time was of the essence if I was gonna score a photo, and I had purchased a glass of RC when I met with the folks that I was still drinking, so I was gonna have to pull off an unlikely one-handed pic even with the likely blur of a photo that came just before sunset.  The odds were against me…but when that cigarette approached her pretty face for a final drag, I held up my camera with my free hand and clicked the shutter twice, somehow managing to pull off a dragging photo and an exhaling photo where a giant blast of smoke is spewing from her mouth.  She approached the community ashtray to toss out the cigarette from there.  I really wish I could have seen more of this as the girl had the potential to be sightings royalty, but I sure made the most out of the very limited time I had with her.  And I hope her nonsmoking boyfriend/husband realizes how he lucky he is!

Coming up next was another encore sighting from a girl who left me wanting for more a couple of hours earlier….Sighting #66, the late teen girl with the long frizzy hair who struck me as possibly mixed race because of her dark complexion combined with largely Caucasian features.  But if I was looking for clarity from her encore performance, I’d only get more confusion!  In her earlier sighting, she was with a tall, nonsmoking female friend, but now she was standing in the smoking area near the bathrooms in the company of a chubby middle-aged redheaded smoker guy.  The chemistry here really struck me as father and daughter, but damn if the guy wasn’t the diametric opposite of what I would have expected this girl’s father to look like.  Maybe it was her mother who was either African-American or Hispanic.  I had no idea, but the mystery made the follow-up sighting that much more fascinating as I watched one of the youngest smokers of the day puffing away with her presumed father right in the middle of the smoking area, the context of which gave her a more girlish vibe than she had when I saw her smoking with her friend earlier.  And while she seemed more like daddy’s little girl in this setting, her smoking was anything but innocent, as she hit the cigarette just as aggressively as before showing incredible skill with her deep drags and follow-up exhales.  My phone had failed me for the earlier encounter with her and I only managed one pic, but the second chance gave me the opportunity for a few more shots this time.  They weren’t perfect because of the blur that comes with pics taken just before sunset, but I was grateful to get more than just the one.  She finished off the cigarette and tossed the butt in the ashtray, beating her father to the end of the cigarette by a good 30 seconds.  The follow-up show on this one was intriguing and adorable enough to land it as my third-favorite sighting of the day.

Looping around to another set of bathrooms leading up to the north side of the grounds, I checked out the area near the building with the AFL-CIO mural where I’d seen a few girls smoking last weekend and earlier today, and found my next customer amidst a trio of two guys and adorable early-to-mid 20s ponytailed brunette, all smoking cigarettes.  Sighting #99 was sitting on the ground next to her presumed boyfriend and they were isolated enough that I was able to sit pretty closely next to them with camera in hand, determined to get a shot of this cutie who didn’t look at all like a smoker.  But before I saw my first drag, she stood up, giving me a direct view of her cute denim miniskirt as she brushed the dirt off of her ass in the seconds after standing up.  The cute miniskirt was coupled with a purple and black top, and with that brown hair up in a ponytail, she was one of the most wholesome-looking cuties I’d seen that day.  At first I feared she’d surrender the cigarette too quickly, but she had a couple more drags to go and I was lucky enough to get a few decent pics that were largely in focus despite the darkening sky conditions.  And I was close enough to hear a money quote that matched the wholesomeness of her overall look as she then said to the guys in her group, “I hope nobody from camp sees me like this,” at which point one of the guys inquired about the context to which she responded that she led some kind of camp earlier that summer.  Now perhaps her reference to “seeing me like this” meant smoking a cigarette, raising the possibility she was just a social smoker having one with the guys.  Who knows…but she sure was making this sighting as fun and colorful as the mural she was leaning against as she took her final drag from the cigarette and then polluted it to the ground and stomped it out.  From there, she and the boyfriend took pics of the other guy in their group in front of this AFL-CIO mural…for some reason.  It was a solid extra-base hit that gave me some hope that maybe the night would go better than I gave it credit for.

I limped along for about a half hour with a modest sightings haul and just after 8 p.m. decided to make my evening trip through the midway.  The previous weekend I got my best journey down the Minnesota State Fair midway in many years, possibly ever.  I wasn’t particularly optimistic of a repeat performance as I embarked down the same path last night.  And while I didn’t get any new sightings of impressive girls, I did manage a final encore of the day’s top girl.  I was at the port-a-johns on the far western side of the midway where I knew there was a designated smoking area.  There was but one smoker standing there, but it was the right smoker…the same mid-20s brunette in the matching black T-shirt and pants (Sighting #48) who’d given me such electric and odorous sightings twice before.  This time she appeared to be waiting for the rest of her group to come out of the bathroom.  Since I was pretty sure she was on to me earlier in the night, I only walked past her once and then hovered from a distance to watch her show.  And I got to see a fair amount, her latest Camel Turkish Royal glowing bright in the evening sky as she dragged from it, continuing to produce ample smoke on her exhales and looking pretty as ever smoking by herself without her friends there.  She took a final drag and stood up, and I knew right away she’d be disposing of the butt as she had with her previous two cigarettes, but the way she got rid of this one was colorful.  The back of the midway must be one of the lowest-elevated parts of the fairgrounds as it was the only place that still had standing water from the rain earlier.  My brunette proceeded to bend down and extinguish her cigarette in the puddle of standing rainwater before continuing toward the community ashtray to formally be done with it.  I walked away with a smile after seeing this, not wanting to further push my luck being spotted by her friends group for whom I was already a little too familiar.  But damn if I didn’t have the timing right with this girl, seeing her smoke three different times at three different smoking areas.  I still wish I could have seen her on a nicer day where she’d have likely dressed in something sexier than this black T-shirt and jeans combo, but even after the second sighting I figured there was a good chance she’d be the top sighting of the day.  After this third sighting, she pretty much assured it.

And while I wouldn’t get any other sightings on the midway last night, it was nonetheless the opening volley to a very nice sightings boomlet that ignited just as I exited the midway and ventured around the beer gardens block, leading to my second-favorite sighting of the day.  As I walked along the north side of the beer gardens block taking in the female landscape, I focused my attention on a cluster of early 20s couples that included some hot girls, and one hot girl in particular.  I lurked for a few moments just in case a cigarette might show up, but it was when my eyes drifted slightly away from this cluster that they landed on the most adorable image I’d seen all day only a few feet to their right.  I’d been holding out all day for a face and body this tender and I finally found it in Sighting #113, this petite dark blond whose hair was braided in the back decked out in a hot pink top and black leggings.  If I had seen her from the back I’d have sworn she was 14 based on her body type.  Looking at her frontally, it was clear she was probably 21 but if there’s one thing I can guarantee it’s that she was IDed by the inevitably skeptical clerk when she went into purchase the pack of cigarettes which produced the one she was smoking now.  I can’t think of another time I’d seen a clearly adult woman trapped in an early teen girl’s body to this extent.  It was just an iconic image seeing this adorable little thing standing alone with a cigarette extended between her fingers while tending to her phone in the other hand.  The phone provided enough of a distraction for her that I was able to take pics, and despite it being after dark, I got some pretty good ones, both holding shots and dragging pics.  The smoking was very impressive too, her style very clearly the work of a regular smoker used to indulging her habit while texting, with that moment of distracted hesitation as the cigarette approached her lips followed by the indulgent suction as she dragged, the cherry of the cigarette glowing brighter than the hot pink of her blouse…..

And while the sighting didn’t have a distinctive storyline up until now, it got a bit interesting towards its end when the aforementioned mixed-gender group standing near her became interactive with my smoker girl.  At first I thought she was part of the group and just stepped aside for a smoke, but then it became clear they were perfect strangers and one of the guys was trying to bum one of her cigarettes.  The cigarette was almost gone and apparently she didn’t have more on her, so she proceeded to simply hand the guy what was left of her cigarette (a drag or two at most) and then walked toward the entryway of the open-air beer gardens building.  On one hand, I was disappointed that I wouldn’t get to either see more of her smoking or be able to identify her brand, but on the other hand, she was now walking right past me en route to the bar, and I inhaled deeply hoping to get a whiff of smoke odor clinging to her tiny body.  I got a small trickle of tobacco odor from her as she walked past, at which point I looked over my shoulder to see her get back with her social group, which appeared to include a duo of early 20s guys and another girl who were all several inches taller and far less adorable than her.  And while I only managed a small scent of tobacco from her as she walked by, I was confident her nonsmoking friends were smelling quite a bit more from her as she stood right behind them in line.  Had I seen more smoking from this girl, she had the potential to clean up in this year’s end-of-season countdown, but even with the single cigarette I did get to see her smoke most of, she was my second favorite girl of the day, only a tick behind the three-cigarette brunette who was my favorite.

Venturing from the beer gardens block to Judson Avenue and heading toward the east side of the grounds, I’d hit pay dirt again in front of the International Bazaar as I came upon a duo of late 20s couples and taking note of the long-haired blond chick with a freshly lit cigarette between her fingers getting ready to sit down on the curb next to an even prettier brunette.  I was intrigued enough to stick around seeing the Sighting #114 blond with cigarette in hand but was greedy in that I wished that brunette was smoking too.  And wouldn’t you know it, a pack of Marlboro Lights was coming out of her purse.  The spot on the curb to her left was open and I seized it, readying my camera for a possible light-up pic even though I knew the darkness would be a problem.  At first I wouldn’t have expected the girls were drunk but they were sure behaving like they’d had a little too much to drink when they heard the piped-in music in the background to which the brunette responded, “I love Tom Petty!” and then the two of them shouted along to the chorus of “Breakdown” for a few moments before the brunette got around to lighting her cigarette.  It was a cute interlude and I was ready for her when the brunette put that Marlboro Light to her lips and officially became Sighting #115.  The pictures turned out great when she did, a solitary flame in the middle of the pic burning bright as she applied it to the end of the cigarette that allowed her to deliver the nicotine to her bloodstream that her body demanded.  She immediately took an extended no-handlebars dangling drag off the light-up which I also got on camera along with the blond dragging behind her.  The young ladies sat there for a few moments smoking, allowing me to observe their impressive styles as their nonsmoking boyfriends hovered in the background.  While a sedentary sighting would have been just fine by me here, I must say the sighting got even more interesting as the girls got up off the curb and the rest of their show went on the road…..

The smoking girls started heading west on Judson Avenue with their nonsmoking dudes, illegally dragging away on their cigarettes outside of designated smoking areas as they progressed.  The brunette was my favorite and the better smoker, taking a regular diet of intense drags–often no-handlebars dangling drags like the one she took fresh off the light-up–and then exhaling them recklessly. But the blond had a couple of moments of her own to shine, hand in hand with the nonsmoking boyfriend and at one point taking a deep drag and then leaning forward to share something with the brunette in front of her, a steady stream of smoke pouring out of her mouth and nose during the talking exhale to the brunette.  It was a great mobile show and I got to see nearly every drag from both of them, with neither of the boyfriends appearing to mind that their girls were smoking in such close proximity to them, the stench of their cigarette smoke filling the night air enough for me to smell and I wasn’t the one hand in hand with either of them like the guys were.  Alas, the boyfriends got in line for fair food while the girls sat on an open bench to finish their cigarettes.  I wasn’t able to watch the end of their show without awkwardly standing in front of them so I sat behind them and got a couple of close-up pics from behind, hoping to possibly catch one of them turn in mid-drag.  That didn’t happen and this closing image actually helped remind me why despite the great storyline and timing of this sighting that it wasn’t gonna go down as a legend.  The girls were decked out in an extremely conservative combination of sweatshirts and jeans, a reminder of the limitations of the day’s weather.  I could still get into the sighting, but seated behind them watching them finish off their cigarettes as though they were sitting at the bleachers of a high school football game was not the same as what I imagined the same sighting would have been the previous weekend with the girls showing off more of their bodies on a genuine summer night.  And while that may have stunted the potential of this sighting a tick, it was still a fantastic moment in time that kept the evening momentum going.  It was my fourth favorite sighting of the day and a contender for the year-end top-25.

I had an unexpected spring in my step as the 9:00 hour approached and I walked past the Leinie Lodge to see if there was any smoking going on in proximity to the evening concert.  Almost every year I get something here and tonight was no exception.  Immediately catching my eye was Sighting #116, an extremely wholesome early 20s light brunette smoking in the company of a nonsmoking guy.  I definitely would not have predicted smoking from this girl had I not came across her with a cigarette already between her fingers.  I took some photos, but they’re all pretty blurry unfortunately.  And as I began to look her over, I quickly noticed that her T-shirt had the name of the small southern Minnesota town where I went to high school.  This girl was probably 20 years younger than me so I didn’t recognize her, but I was intrigued at the prospect that this nicotine cutie probably graduated from my high school  She had a great body and her curves were brought out by the form-fitting leggings covering her bottom, all of which contributed to this solid extra-base hit sighting.  About half of the sighting played out standing there on the street near the Leinie Lodge, but after a bit she and the nonsmoking boyfriend crossed the street to the mostly empty seating area surrounding the food building.  Had I not made myself too familiar hovering during the standing portion of the sighting, I could have taken a bench right next to them and gotten a really close sighting of her continuing to smoke, but I was still pleased with being able to watch this sighting play out to its end, the nonsmoking boyfriend on the receiving end of her smoke in the most adorable way until she crushed it out on the berm and dropped the butt into the dirt behind her.

I headed to the grandstand area next and while the place wasn’t as lively as usual with the amateur talent show ongoing, I still stumbled upon yet another extra-base hit with yet another smoking female in the presence of nonsmoking guys.  Sighting #119 was a tall and very attractive blond whose long hair was braided going down her back.  I’d guess she was mid-20s as she had a very pretty face and a nice body with a black tanktop and a pair of jeans.  I was able to claim a seat overlooking the show and the blond smoked in the presence of these two nonsmoking guys and seemed way out of their league while doing so.  I was close enough to see a pretty good show from my seat but far enough away that the mid-evening pics I took weren’t great given the darkness.  Her style wasn’t distinctive in any way but she just looked so good with a cigarette, and her complete lack of inhibition smoking in the presence of these two guys only elevated its stature higher.  I got to see several drags before she dropped the all-white butt to the pavement and crushed it out, a butt I’d later identify as a Marlboro Light.  Neither of the two guys were worthy of this hot blond but I assumed the guy she was with was the taller guy to her left….but he walked away while the blond was in the company of this completely average joe who was a couple of inches shorter than her and she began walking away with him.  I was mildly obsessed with this gal and followed her a bit as she walked away next to this guy, appearing to be the alpha in the relationship as she asked him through her fresh cigarette breath if he wanted to ride the Skyride before they left.  This girl probably won’t make my year-end countdown but not for lack of IT factor.  Had I gotten any kind of second act from her or additional context she’d have been a shoo-in.

The surge of extra-base hits cooled a bit in the 9:00 hour after such a solid 8:00 hour, but heading back to the beer gardens block I’d score another sighting of a mid-20s blond with a long braid hanging down her back eerily similar to the last girl.  Sighting #127 didn’t quite have the presence of the previous girl but her overall look was similar, decked out in a light red top and light blue jeans with a ball cap on top of her head.  She was the only one smoking while walking down the block with another gal, and I enjoyed her moxie as she dragged from her cigarette while walking through this part of the grounds with no designated smoking area in sight, eventually coming upon a guy they both seemed to know who wasn’t smoking and then chatting with him, the braided-hair blond continuing to fill the air with her smelly carcinogens.  I managed to a few pics that aren’t great but aren’t terrible either, including one where she’s in mid-drag, her body really filling out those jeans nicely.  She dropped the cigarette to the pavement and they walked toward the midway, and I swooped in to identify the still-smoldering cork filter as a Marlboro Red Special Blend.

Drifting further south on the square block of beer gardens I spotted another duo of smokers, fronted by a cute late 20s blond who was for some reason wearing pink devil horns.  Sighting #128 was definitely the main draw as her brunette friend (Sighting #129) was pretty plain, and as the otherwise wholesome blond stood there impressively taking down her cigarette with solid drags and nice exhales, the question kept popping up in my head…..why is she wearing a pair of pink devil horns on her head over Labor Day weekend?  Below the pink horns and long blond hair, she wore a pink blouse and black leggings and the whole package came together for a nice sighting that I spent several moments observing until the blond finished her cigarette.

The night was winding down in its final half hour and while I knew I was heading for fewer than 150 sightings, I was still doing a fair amount better than expected going into the evening.  I decided to make another half-pass through the midway and was rewarded with a solid sighting when I did.  In the middle of a mixed-gender cluster in their early 20s that included a couple of hotties was a single smoker, this long-haired light brunette in a white tanktop and jeans wielding a cigarette between her fingers.  Sighting #136 wasn’t gorgeous but had a presence about her, appearing a bit more edgy than a girl next door and not necessarily surprising me to see the cigarette between her fingers.  Right away her moxie was tested as she took a drag from the cigarette and carelessly exhaled straight ahead into the circle of friends she stood with, a snootful of smoke exiting her face and dominating the airspace of everyone in the group.  Moments later, a couple within this cluster was formally introducing themselves to the smoker who shook their hands with her non-cigarette hand and said “nice to meet you” only seconds before taking another drag from the cigarette and obnoxiously exhaling into the crowd just like the last time, appearing to be oblivious to the unbelievable rudeness of it and not getting any response from anyone else in the group.  I arguably ended the evening with the most adorably obnoxious moment of the day, and the lighting in the carnival was just enough that I was able to score a couple of mediocre pics where you can see her face and upper body but not the cigarette.  As the couple who introduced themselves to my crude smoker girl walked away, the trio of girls in this group were all heading toward a carnival ride, the light brunette excitedly taking a final drag from the cigarette and then crushing it out beneath her shoe just before walking onto the platform of the midway ride.  The extinguished butt looked like a Camel Turkish Royal, a brand with surprising continued popularity in the Upper Midwest based on this fair season’s observations, and I confirmed that by what she left on the pavement.  It was a great sighting and definitely vindicated my decision to wander that half loop through the midway.

I was down to my final mini-loop around the grandstand area and then the beer gardens block before I had to meet the parents and I’d get one last sighting to leave an impression while encircling the beer gardens.  A mid-20s frizzy-haired blond with a Rosie the Riveter look was holding a mostly smoked cigarette between her fingers while standing in the company of two guys as I passed by.  Sighting #140 put a cherry on top of the electric presentation with a pair of pale blue jean shorts, the kind of outfit I’d wished I’d seen far more of on smoker girls yesterday.  Unfortunately, she was down to her last drag and while I got to see her to take it, it was still tough to watch her drop the cigarette to the pavement and crush it out, both since I’d have liked to have seen more from her and also because I knew she’d likely be the last girl of significance I’d see smoking during the 2019 fair season.

And I was right on both counts as I ventured to meet my parents from there and would get no additional sightings.  My feet were only now starting to get genuinely sore, having held up well through both long days at the Minnesota State Fair.  For much of September 1, 2019, I was prepared to put the day on par with my Labor Day weekend visit to the 2016 Minnesota State Fair, a day that just wasn’t coming together the way most MNSF days do in terms of producing memorable moments, but the solid evening showing definitely catapults yesterday ahead of that day in 2016.  It was by no means my favorite day at the Minnesota State Fair and paled in comparison to the heights reached the previous week, but by 10:30 p.m. as I left the ground I had come a helluva long way since 10:30 a.m. at the peak of the disruptive rainfall when the day looked like a full-blown disaster in the making.

As for the 2019 fair season as a whole, I mostly have positive feelings and churned out an impressive 712 sightings overall, with a solid top-25 list on the horizon for year’s end.  Two days in particular during this fair season, one in Iowa and one in Minnesota, were electric and felt like a time warp back to a decade ago when smoking was more prolific.  But the trendlines are troubling and are already manifesting themselves, with fewer girls under 21 smoking this year than I’ve ever seen in years past, and that’s before the pending tidal wave of Tobacco 21 laws that will inevitably be in place throughout the Midwest by next year.  I’ve always been partial to sightings of teen smoker girls, so their disappearing act casts quite a shadow and certainly moves the goalposts of what I would have considered a really good sightings day a decade ago.  Still, the attrition and aging out of the young female smoker population does not appear to occurring on an accelerated timeline, so I’m confident I’ll be back here next year with more fairgrounds sightings adventures.  It’s gonna be a long 11 months waiting for fair season to return though.

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