Clergy dish up meatball sundaes, pickle ice pops and a little faith at the Minnesota State Fair

by | Sep 1, 2023 | Religion

FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. (AP) — As the sun rose on an unusually steamy opening day of the Minnesota State Fair, Jeff Knott and his two daughters joined the already long breakfast line outside the Hamline Church Dining Hall.The Lutheran family, at the fair to show the teen girls’ pigs Billy and Lil’ Red, favor this Methodist all-volunteer diner for its early opening, variety of foods including the signature “hamloaf” sandwich, and religious mission.
“They use their proceeds for mission work, which I think is important,” Knott said before the family bowed their heads to say grace at the hall’s bustling tables. “Can’t get deep fried Oreos, though,” quipped Elsie Knott, 13.
Faith offerings are plentiful and deep-rooted at the late-summer agricultural fairs that, nationwide, bring together 4-H children parading their prize animals and political candidates unleashing their ambitions.
Here in the middle of the Twin Cities, in addition to two church dining halls that have served up hot meals for a combined 200 years, there are fairgrounds Sunday services, booths handing out free Bibles or Qurans, and a stage for Christian bands beside the rides.
With pre-pandemic attendance surpassing two million — in a state with 5.7 million residents — the fair gives religious leaders a unique opportunity to showcase their hospitality and offer a rapidly disappearing slice of Americana to an increasingly diverse crowd.
“Service is my love l …

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