Right now in Minnesota, it's all about the State Fair! I was there twice on opening day, actually: In the morning I bussed over with about 130 interfaith colleagues to have a brief press conference outside the fair gates, and in the afternoon/evening I went back to visit a few buildings and to hear Bonnie Raitt and Mavis Staples sing. (Wow!)
The first building my friend and I just had to rush into was the horticulture building. I don't know what I find so exciting about seeing the giant pumpkins, the trays of beets competing for ribbons, or the knife demonstrations. My favorite is always the crop art room, full of scarecrows and seed art.
And who knew Seed Art would feature so many people opposing the proposed constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage in Minnesota? Here is my favorite piece, which also won a blue ribbon and an even more prestigious purple ribbon:
Artist: Laura Melnick
There were several others:
Artist: Jill Schaefer
Artist: Mark Dahlager
And then, finally, there was this piece:
Artist: Teresa Anderson
Next to me a blonde woman said to her adult daughter, "Finally! A piece that is defending marriage!" And then she looked a little closer at the seed art and said, "Hey, wait a minute... Henry VIII? Wasn't he that guy who killed all those women?" And then she got a really angry expression on her face and spit out, "I think that piece is ironic." I smiled sweetly at her and said, "Who knew?! Seed art can be ironic!"
We stopped by the "Say No" booth and picked up a "Say No" on a stick -- that is, a fan with the message "Vote No. Don't Limit the Freedom to Marry." I carried the fan around the rest of the day, and I was glad that I did. Several people came up to me to talk about it, unsure what a "yes" vote entailed and what a "no" vote entailed, all wanting to stand in solidarity with LGBT people. I told them, "Just remember: NO-vember." They smiled and thanked me. One woman said, "This is just so stupid! I'm so sick of all the hate!"
So before I go back to the fair, I am going to lay my hands on a "Vote No" T-shirt, or else default to my "Standing on the Side of Love" shirt with a "Vote No" button. The fair is a great place to walk around and talk to people! I didn't see any "defense of marriage"-identified people, though there were quite a few who had backpacks that said, "Protect the Vote," speaking out in favor of the other ballot measure we'll be facing: a voter suppression bill.
All in all, the Minnesota State Fair is a great place to hang out and see and talk to almost everyone. I'll be going back at least twice!
Follow Rev. Meg Riley on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MegARiley