Maybe the words “confused” or “amused” would also work to describe our reactions… 😉
I held a lot of stereotypes in my head about Minnesota but I also had a pretty large black hole where Minnesota information might have been if I had given Minnesota much thought at all before moving here… but I hadn’t.
Disclaimer out front – we LOVE living in Minnesota. I’m probably going to get ridden out of here on rails for this video/post, but I’m still going to do it! I am not a native, I’ve lived in Ohio, Michigan, Atlanta GA, Chicago IL and now I’m here, so I’m just coming at this with the eye of an outsider, and I’m sharing it with you.
#1 STATE PRIDE
The first thing that struck us when we moved here was that Minnesotans are extremely proud of their state. I have lived in SEVERAL other states as I mentioned and in none of them has there been this level of state branding worn by the residents. People wear Minnesota gear ALL THE TIME. I don’t mean gear for just the sports teams, I mean it’s like school spirit day every day because people wear clothing & hats, put bumper stickers on their cars, there is Minnesota themed artwork in their homes – you name it! All proudly proclaiming that they live in, and LOVE living in, Minnesota. It’s everywhere. Also, Minnesotans do not tolerate a less than favorable comparison to another state very well, even just a hint of one.
If there is any glory to be had, even if it’s tied by the very finest of threads, they will mention it. If someone does something notable and their uncle’s in-laws cousin once removed is from MN – well, good enough! Minnesota can lay claim. I really like it here too, I think a lot of this is somewhat justified. BUT this is a video about what stood out to me as an outsider and it is a very noticeable trait when you’re not from around these parts.
One of my Minnesota born and bred friends explained that Minnesotans are a little sensitive about being in fly-over country, it’s a little out of the way if you’re from the coasts, and it hurts to have your exceptional light dimmed by the fact of geography. The place has a lot going for it and if you know, you know. But if you don’t know …you may be tempted to step in it a bit and not give credit where Minnesotans believe that credit is due. 🙂 If you’re on Twitter follow the account “Indignant Minnesotan” – whoever this is gets it.
One thing that I was surprised by, and am now ecstatic over is that the infrastructure of the Twin Cities and the state as a whole is built very intentionally around helping people enjoy being outside. It took me a while to put my finger on it even though I take advantage of this nearly daily. It’s just so EASY to be a part of the natural beauty and lakes that surround us whether it’s on foot, on bikes or in the water itself. Chicago had some of this on the lake front, but MN has it EVERYWHERE. It feels like Minnesotans are born feeling that being outside and having easy access to it is their birthright.
I absolutely LOVE this characteristic and I can’t believe how deeply integrated this is into most of the state – at least the parts that I’ve been in so far. There are bike trails absolutely everywhere. City, suburb or exurb. The lakes are an extension of the way people live here and a lot of parks have ways for you to enjoy the water whether it’s through beaches, boat rentals, paddle boards, keeping them cleared for skating and pond hockey in winter or making them accessible for fishing. Much of the northern part of the state is forest or borders on Lake Superior and the parks and cabins that are available for spending time outside up there are extensive. Trails are used year round, for hiking, fat tire bikes, skiing, or snow mobiling.
#3 Cabin culture
This one isn’t too much of a shock based on the last one, but cabin culture here is strong. People clear out of the city pretty much every weekend through the summer to head up to the cabin. All summer long you’ll see lots of photos of people having fun outside at lakes and cabins and you can enjoy easier access to just about everything in the city because no one is here.We don’t have a cabin, but I imagine that would be nice. 😉 but in the meantime, I’ll just be here in Minneapolis enjoying fewer people at the things I want to visit.
4. The weather!
Everyone thinks COLD when they think of Minnesota, what they don’t tell you is how ridiculously HOT it gets here in the summer. The month of July is like a sauna. Super humid and super hot, it’s just gross.
I am a cold weather person, I like to enjoy the moderate days and the sun for a few months but cold weather makes me happy inside. So July is not my favorite. We moved from Chicago which is significantly further south and it is significantly hotter here in the summer. I like to tell my friends and family in Ohio when they start talking about how awful our weather here must be in the winter that it’s about 10 degrees colder in winter and 10 degrees hotter in summer.
Most states talk about snow days for school. You aren’t likely to see that here. Kids go to school in the winter. The potential for kids being called off school for weather comes in when spring hits or the early fall when kids start back to school for a “heat day”. When it’s hot out with no AC in some of the schools, it’s intolerable and kids stay home (or go to the lake!). We do get the occasional day called off for cold or snow too, MPS calls school when its -35F or colder with wind chill or if, there is an extra large and fast snowfall. Whatever you imagine this to mean – double it.
5. The FAIR.
Minnesotans are OBSESSED with their state fair. They call it the Great Minnesota Get Together. They love the rides, the CROWDS, the “pronto pups” aka corn dogs and the “sweet martha’s cookies”. People will go to the state fair multiple times during the week that it’s running. This is not an inexpensive endeavor, in 2021 they are honoring 2020 admission tickets. You’re best bet is riding one of the buses from the various park and rides rather than trying to find a place to park. It’s a relatively inexpensive ticket and gets you there and back easily pretty much whenever you want to go.
I don’t love it.
I keep trying.
I worry that there is something wrong with me, but then I think – I can’t be the only one that doesn’t love it! There must be more like me! I think we all try to keep it to ourselves to avoid the gasps of astonishment and confusion.
It’s not personal Minnesota! I just don’t like huge crowds!
If you like being smooshed together with vast swaths of Minnesotan humanity – give it a try! The one thing I DO love about the fair is the annual “Crop Art” competition just because it is just SO MINNESOTAN, and so creative. It amazed me all three times I went.
But now I like look at photos instead so I don’t need to be near all those people.