We hope you had a great Labor Day weekend. We did. Lisa and I took off Thursday and Friday Sept 2-3 to make it a five day weekend. We haven’t done this before but we really felt we needed the time off. We started our five consecutive days off by attending the Minnesota State Fair. Among some of our exploits, we visited the MN apple growers at the horticultural exhibit, checked out O’Gara’s venue, rode the SkyRide, ventured up the Space Needle, purchased Christmas presents at the Merchandise Mart (future post), entered some raffles in the Sports building and indulged in ice cream sundaes in the Dairy building. To my surprise, the Minnesota Wild called me up on Friday and told me I was the big raffle winner of the day on Thursday. My prize? A signature series hockey stick signed by the team. If you have an idea of what it’s worth, please let me know. I’m clueless.
As for the O’Gara venue, I tried the Reuben Bites appetizer. These are little fried nuggets that are related to their tasty Reuben sandwich. They’re kind of like pizza rolls only filled with corned beef, sauerkraut and dressing. But the problem was that I couldn’t taste the contents of the bites. The fried breading exterior overpowered the promise of what would be inside. Price? $5.50. Worth it? I didn’t think so, but maybe you tried it and think differently. Let us know.
Now, there’s usually one reason why I always visit the MN Apple Growers at the Horticultural building at the Fair and that is to get 2 glasses of the best apple juice on the planet. For a dollar, you can enjoy 12 oz of pure joy. This year I had one more reason why I wanted to visit their booths. I wanted to know where I could get the new University of Minnesota club apple: Sweet Tango. For those that don’t know, the UofM invented the outstanding Honeycrisp apple; and I buy bags of them every year. Last year, the UofM announced their new invention: Sweet Tango. Supposedly better than Honeycrisp. Last year, it was so new I couldn’t locate a single Sweet Tango anywhere. Radio and TV station personalities were raving about them, but nobody could tell you where you could get one. So I asked the guy sitting behind the MN Apple Growers booth where I could find one. He said they were only available from growers. Incidentally, a “club” apple is one where you or I could not get a tree and plant it in our backyard. A grower can get approval to purchase trees from the company that owns the license. Pepin Heights can license a grower. So basically, it was tough to get your hands on one last year, because most growers had to apply and get the trees ready for the next year….which is now. I told the guy that I appreciated the information but I needed to know which growers in Minnesota had followed through on getting the trees and were offering the much talked about fruit this year. He handed me a list of all the Minnesota apple orchards and told me I needed to call them one at a time and ask. Well, it seems that the company in charge of marketing this delectable morsel was not making it very easy to locate their product. You’d think that the UofM would’ve worked with Pepin Heights to at least let Fair-goers know how to get some of these apples. Well, I started with Pepin Heights online, and their web ordering isn’t showing availability for Sweet Tango which is strange since the end of August and first 2 weeks of September are the prime time for harvesting it. So then I started poking around apple blogs and found a mention of the Apple House. The Apple House is part of the UofM’s research facility associated with the MN Landscape Arboretum. Call this number and a pre-recording will tell you what they have on hand for the day: 952-443-1409. I called Friday, No Sweet Tango on the list. I called Saturday and BINGO! They were in. Lisa and I got in the Rav and found our way to the the tables with the Sweet Tango apples. In case you go, you should know: they sell “First Quality” and “Second Quality” pecks (a small bag that holds about 8-10 apples depending on their size.) The 2nd quality bags sell for $12.95. First Quality sell for $17.95. They have a few samples cut in the back for you to try before you decide to part with your money. The only difference I could see between 1st and 2nd quality is that the latter have a few minor dings and color variances, otherwise, they looked fine to me.
Bottom line: I got two bags of 2nd quality and raced into the parking lot and began eating. The apple snaps as you bite into it. It’s not a tart apple so it doesn’t make you pucker. As you begin to chew, you realize that you have to start swallowing while chewing. The Sweet Tango is one of the juiciest apples I’ve ever eaten. It’s like drinking several glasses of apple juice as you eat. I like it. I’ve read other reviews of folks who said they liked it, but weren’t over impressed. Whatever. I think it’s one of the best apples I’ve ever had. The only downside to going to the Apple House is that John Q. Public isn’t invited to walk out into the orchard and pick apples. They do the picking. You do the buying and eating.
Lisa and I like to visit a couple of orchards each year and pick our own basket of apples. It’s fun and a great way to spend a happy autumn day. It’s part of the Fall experience. But if you’re going for Sweet Tango and you find an orchard that lets you pick your own apples, let us know. I suppose it will have to be in the next couple of weeks. Everyone I talked to said the apples were maturing earlier than expected this year.
We’ve got more adventures to share with you about the last couple of weeks. But I’ll leave that to future posts. Until then, I’ll leave you with this as we wrap up another Labor Day weekend. I was thinking about Labor Day and what it meant. You can look it up, there’s plenty of information on its origins. I won’t bother to link to it, if you really want to know, you’ll find it for yourself. I was thinking about it, I guess, because of the recent uptick in unemployment in the U.S. last week. And I thought, sadly, we’re all sort of celebrating “Non-Labor” Day this weekend. I’m thankful to God that both Lisa and I have jobs. And I’m going to pray more for my fellow Americans who are looking for work. I’ll pray that they can enjoy expensive Sweet Tango apples or purchase fun merchandise at the Fair next year or sell collectibles for a good price. I hope so.
As Milton and Rose Friedman wrote in Free to Choose, chapter 2: The Tyranny of Controls, “An essential part of economic freedom is freedom to choose how to use our income; how much to spend on ourselves and on what items; how much to save and in what form; how much to give away and to whom.”
From FiscalAccountability.Org – “The Cost of Government Day is the date of the calendar year on which the average American worker has earned enough gross income to pay off his or her share of the spending and regulatory burden imposed by government at the federal, state and local levels…COGD for 2010 is August 19th.” In Minnesota, it’s August 25th. The COGD had never been later than July 20th prior to 2008. Due to big government spending the last 2 years, we are well on our way to celebrating Labor Day 2011 as our own Personal Independence Day when we start working to satisfy our own wants and desires versus allowing politicians to decide how to spend our money. The Friedman’s wrote, “The ballot box produces conformity without unanimity; the marketplace, unanimity without conformity. That is why it’s desirable to use the ballot box, so far as possible, only for those decisions where conformity is essential.”
I hope we all remember that two months from now. Especially in Minnesota where we just spent the first 237 days of 2010 working to meet the costs imposed by government. Ending, earlier, our personal slavery to Uncle Sam depends on it; or you can expect to watch government consume more than 63% of your efforts in the future.