Friday, September 9, 2022


Photos by Bill Slavin

 Bubbles floated up into the sky as a young girl pointed her toy and shot more of the fragile bubbles near us. We watched her moment of joy, as we ate a corn dog at the Minnesota State Fair, a place where over two million people come to enjoy the last of summer's entertainments.

A trip to Minnesota to see relatives and view my dad's drawings one more time at St. Cloud State University also gave us time for a trip to the opening day of Minnesota's State Fair. Everyone we met, from Lyft drivers to hotel personnel to cousins, when asked what they liked most about the fair, said, "The food! Don't miss Sweet Martha's Chocolate Chip Cookies in a bucket, try the deep-fried pies, or the Cheese Curd Tacos, or the Pickle on a Stick."

As we came into the fair, we walked towards the livestock barns (our favorite part of any summer fair) and saw a group of people clustered in a circle. We walked over out of curiosity and discovered Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar in the middle shaking hands and taking selfies with fairgoers. Everyone was happy to see them and shouted encouragement to the two politicians.

During the morning, we toured the livestock barns, watched animal mothers tend to newborn babies in the Miracle Birth Barn, and young 4-Hers care for their farm animals. We marveled at the beauty and precision of teams of draft horses such as Percherons, Clydesdales, and Belgians as they competed in an arena. We ventured through the food streets and sampled fresh, whole milk, corndogs, and milkshakes. We couldn't see everything at the fair. It covers over 320 acres, we missed the fine arts and home arts displays, the Machinery Hill, and the Midway. We mingled with joyful crowds, admired the work of young 4-H members, watched fun entertainment, and ate good food.

After returning home to California later in the week, I learned that the next weekend, a shooting took place at the Midway in the evening. No one was killed, fortunately, and even the large police presence couldn't prevent the incident. As the sheriff said, "If someone with a gun is intent on using it, it is very hard to prevent that."

After our trip to the fair, we walked in the evening around downtown St. Paul. It was quiet, with the Twin Cities, like so many cities, still recovering from the pandemic. On several buildings, we saw a sign embedded in the marble exterior that read: "Building Management Bans Guns in these Premises." 

I stared and thought that another bubble had burst. Like many states, Minnesota, which has long been a hunting state, has little regulation over long guns, but handguns are subject to more control. That didn't prevent a gun at the fair, and the sign, except on government buildings, has no legal basis. All that the building owners can do is ask a gun holder to leave and press trespassing charges if they don't.

I think back over the times we've visited Minnesota with fondness. We love its verdant green beauty in the summertime. We like the friendliness of the people. We have a wonderful time reconnecting with cousins. I had never seen this sign about guns on any building there before. But something has changed in the last few years there, just as change has come to California and Texas and Georgia and other states. Gun violence is now the number one cause of death in children and teenagers in the United States. According to a Gallup survey, over 67% of the U.S. support gun safety regulations. Don't you think it is time we stepped forward and made our voices heard?

Check out information from Sandy Hook Promise:

The Soul Box Project is continuing its efforts for artists to promote gun safety:

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