18h UTC; WEDNESDAY, 21 AUGUST 2013: With today being "Day 0," as it were, for the Minnesota State Fair (as officially opens tomorrow, know), perhaps Your Correspondent thought it would be interesting to set people in the mood therefor by paying homage to Clellan Card (1901-1966), a much-loved Twin Cities radio and television host in his day (in particular for his long-running and hugely-popular after-school WCCO-TV childrens' show Axel and His Tree House, as aired from 1954 until just before his decease from cancer; Card played Axel Axelsson, a Swedish-accented hyperjuvenile bumpkin who resided in a treehouse in the north woods).

For those unfamiliar with the device, especially outside of Minnesota or western Wisconsin: Card's sign-off on many of his radio broadcasts, as well as throughout the television run, was a hilarious and usually topical reworking of Robert Louis Stevenson's "Time to Rise," from his "A Child's Garden of Verses"; the original of which ran:

A birdie with a yellow bill
Hopped upon my windowsill,
Cocked his shining eye and said:
"Ain't you 'shamed, you sleepyhead!"

But in the hands of Card, who usually delivered the opening part in a Scandinavian-accented singsong, it came out as:

Birdie with a yellow bill
Hopped upon my windowsill,
Cocked his shining eye and says:

--followed by some topically-witty and at once punning wordplay making up the last line, with just a hint of suspense to make sure listeners or viewers, as the case may have been, didn't miss the joke ensuing. (For actual specimens of what became known as "Birdies", as used on radio and TV, click on the photo as leads off this post.)

In any event, to get readers in the mood for perhaps one of the more realistic specimens of State Fair anywhere (especially after the Unfortunate Events as tarnished the Missouri State Fair's good name and repute), Your Correspondent offers these specimens of Clellan Card-model "Birdies" for the Minnesota State Fair; opening as aforementioned, but with the closing line being your choice of the following (and with explanatory notes as required):
  1. "When did you start shooting the Bull--Bites?" (As in Axel's Bull Bites--no relation to Card's TV personna, AFAIK--which serves up bite-size nuggets of sirloin steak off to the side of the Food Building.)
  2. "Maybe it was time to rediscover our Heritage--Square." (After this year's TGMnGT, Heritage Square in its present form is scheduled to be redeveloped into a new form, the which will also include a Transit Centre replacing the current overworked facilities on Como Avenue.)
  3. "So let's get going pronto--Pups!"
  4. "Don't go in the rain without your Poncho--Dogs!"
    (For those who don't know the difference between these two variants of what are commonly known as "corn dogs," Poncho Dogs have a cornmeal batter whereas Pronto Pups, which are the older [1947] and better known examples, have a flour batter.)
  5. "Have you tasted the rainbow--Ice Cream?" (Apologies there to Skittles for mocking their "Taste the Rainbow" strapline and mein approriating it to a longtime TGMnGT staple.)
  6. "Have you started yet for The North--Woods?" (Which, know, is an outdoors-related area just north of Machinery Hill and is the home of Giggles' Campfire Grill, renowned for their walleye cakes.)
  7. "Aren't you getting a little too obsessed over the fair--Child?" (Alternate ending: "...over the fair--Borne?" In any case, such are the Fair's gopher mascots and goodwill ambassadors, Fairchild debuting in 1965 and Fairborne, his nephew, in 1983. The former pays homage to Howard S. Fairchild, a longtime member of the State Fair Board of Managers as was successful in securing the present site of the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in 1885, which was previously the Ramsey County Poor Farm.
    (BTW, both mascots have twice-daily meet-and-greets at 11 and 4 in the Visitors' Plaza, where they'll pose for photographs, and also appear in the daily parade which starts at 2 from near the Space Tower.)
  8. "Who wouldn't support the Farmer's Union--Frappe?" (There happens to be a coffee bar in the Farmer's Union Building which sells the legendary Farmer's Union Frappe, a mocha-and-ice confection as is worth trying.)
  9. "Who's been throwing the egg--coffee?" (The Swedish Egg Coffee, as served at Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church's dining hall, one half of the two remaining church diners at the State Fair; that of Hamline Church, famed for its ham loaf, is the other, as explains the following):
  10. "Stop making yourself too much of a ham--loaf!"
  11. "Why don't you just shut your mouth--trap?!" (The Mouth Trap, in the Food Building, is perhaps the single largest seller of battered cheese curds during TGMnGT, said curds being supplied by the Ellsworth [WI] Cooperative Creamery.)
  12. "This isn't your Disney Princess--Kay!" (Princess Kay of the Milky Way, Minnesota's official dairy ambassador since 1954. Contestants thereof must come from a dairy farming background, be unmarried, a high-school graduate, and no older than 26; since 1964, the facial likenesses of Princess Kay and her court have been sculpted out of 50-lb. blocks of butter, which they can take home after the Fair and use as they see fit.)
  13. "So what are you doing with the Merchandise--Mart?"
  14. "Why are you playing with the Machinery--Hill?" (Not much of a hill anymore, much of it having to be levelled to construct the 4-H Building in 1939; still the traditional home for farm and construction equipment manufacturers' displays at TGMnGT.)
  15. "What are you doing with the Butcher--Boy?" (A rather legendary stand between the Grandstand and Visitors' Plaza on Dan Patch Avenue selling London broil sandwiches; smoke therefrom can create a rather charming effect in the right circumstances.)
  16. "Have you been playing around with the Rice--Kristies?" (A Rice Krispie Treats knockoff sold a stand in Scooby-Doo-influenced colours opposite Ye Old Mill.)
  17. "Isn't life so sweet--Martha's?" (Several stands across the Fairgrounds selling freshly-baked miniature chocolate-chip cookies in cones or reusable pails.)
  18. "Junior's grown up by a full foot--Long!" (Actually, to be on the safe side of the law, they're advertised as being "About a Foot Long Hot Dogs"; at one time, vendors thereof pushed them with cries such as "30 cents to the foot, 90 cents to the yard!" and "Loaf of bread, pound of meat,/And all the mustard you can eat!")
  19. "Isn't it too much to think about an Orange--Rush?" (Not related to a certain bloviating conservative talkback radio prolefeeder; on the other hand, it's an ice-cream float made with orange cream soda sold at a certain stand in Heritage Square--see #2.)
  20. "Are you getting your State Fair--Wear?" (At least two locations on the Fairgrounds, and online, selling Minnesota State Fair souvenir T-shirts and ephemera; proceeds go to the Minnesota State Fair Foundation, which seeks to maintain the State Fairgrounds and the State Fair's educational and cultural programmes.)
  21. "What have you been doing at Cinnie--Smith's?" (A stand on the north end of the State Fairgrounds as sells mini cinnamon rolls with small cups of cream cheese frosting as dip.)
  22. "What were you doing last night in Carousel--Park?" (Essentially reworking of one of Clellan's original "Birdies," as in "What were you doing last night in St. Louis--Park?" In any case, Carousel Park is located in front of the Grandstand/Varied Industries exhibits east of the Grandstand ramp; in its day, home to a bandstand as hosted the likes of John Phillip Sousa's band.)
  23. "I don't seem to be feeling all that mighty--Midway." (After the bankruptcy and winding-up of Royal American Shows, for years the carnival of TGMnGT, in the early 2000's, The Mighty Midway, essentially a collection of independent ride and amusement operators--and its pint-sized counterpart, the Kidway, over by Machinery Hill--filled the void. And rather successfully, besides.)
  24. "I think I'll get me a fudge--puppy." (One of those "on-the-stick" confections for which TGMnGT has made a name for itself, a concoction of dark chocolate sauce, Belgian waffles and whipped cream; sold at a stand near the Ag-Hort Building.)
  25. "Have you had your orange--treet?" (An Orange Julius knockoff sold at a stand in front of the Foods Building; close by is the legendary stand of Danielson and Daughters, as in battered onion rings, the recipe for said batter being a closely-held secret.)
  26. "Are you losing your mind in the Space--Tower?" (Perhaps the most visible landmark of the State Fairgrounds since its opening in 1964, affording a 360-degree rotating panorama of the State Fairgrounds and the Twin Cities metro area. Best appreciated at night, when you can also get in the likes of the Shoreview TV towers and KSTP-AM's Maplewood transmitter site.)
  27. "Let's not get too Shanghai'd--Harry!" (A play on Shanghai Harry's, a refreshment stand at the International Bazaar as was previously the Mexican Village; in its day, the Rest Cottage, itself the former Minnesota Pavilion of the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair, was on site.)
Can you think of others, readers?


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