Skip to comments.Another State Fair icon bites the dust
Posted on 08/16/2011 10:07:23 PM PDT by Hunton Peck
Edged out by corn dogs and chocolate-dipped bacon, one of the few remaining church dining halls at the fairgrounds is calling it quits.
File this one under E, for End-of-an-Era. Or at least the beginning of the end.
When the State Fair opens for its 148th year next Thursday, it's going to be the last season for the Epiphany Diner. The landmark dining hall, operated by the Church of the Epiphany in Coon Rapids and one of the fair's three remaining church-run operations, is closing up shop after this year's fair. Its space will be used for tasting Minnesota wines.
"It's been a tough decision, and we hate to see it go," said the Rev. Dennis Zehren.
The main reason for the closure is simple: declining revenues. According to figures released by the State Fair, the dining hall had gross sales of $156,851 in 2009. Last year they were $137,456.
Although a wine bar is more in keeping with the times, many will likely miss the old-fashioned diner. The church and the fair share a long history, dating back to 1966. "Before that, St. Joseph's parish in West St. Paul had it, and before that another parish had it," said Zehren. "It has been a Catholic dining hall for a good long time."
It's a comfort to know that fairgoers can rely upon the Epiphany one last time for a shaded table, a kid- and senior-friendly atmosphere, a souvenir church cookbook and an affordable hot turkey, chicken or roast beef dinner, before saying their goodbyes.
"I think that it's going to be emotional," Zehren said. "Lots of tears and hugging and toasting and raising our eyes to heaven. But we're going to go out on a positive note, expressing our gratitude and reliving happy memories."
(Excerpt) Read more at startribune.com ...
A wine bar at the Fair. It's just wrong. Maybe if they figured out a way to batter and deep-fry the vino and put it on a stick, but otherwise....
MN State Fair ping!
The Lutheran Apple dumplings and ice cream is a must stop at my hometown fair.
An d I aint Lutheran!
Fairs should be about fun and newfangled stuff, balanced with a hefty dose of TRADITION.
I think my favorite food stop at the MN fair in relatively recent times is the New Prague Hotel (don’t know if it’s still there — the actual hotel in New Prague, MN closed several years ago, but its food-only fair offshoot stayed on). They had a Czech sausage called Jternitze (sp?) that was terrific. Not on a stick, just on a bun, with kraut and/or mustard.
Worst newer-fangled thing: Deep-fried Twinkies. The batter throws the divinely ordained starch-to-creme ratio way off.
The hotel and restaurant in New Prague was one of our favorite haunts when we lived in Prior Lake. Six or seven course meals, then upstairs for an overnight stay in one of their rather small hotel rooms.
Pity, it’s been closed for several years...
“... the Lutheran apple dumplings”
When I got to a state fair, I always look for the the church dinners. For one thing, church ladies are experts when making really good food. I don’t care how elaborate or simple... it is just good. Sad to see that they are being replaced by a wine tasting stop.
I’ve never been to Minnesota or their fair, but I’ve had many an excellent church dinner and I can get wine anywhere. Tragic.
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Thanks for the PING! I’ve eated at the Epiphany Diner - but not in the last few years. The food was decent and it was nice to be able to sit down at a regular clean table.
The Hamline United Methodist Church has a nice diner just up from the Grandstand. If you like Swedish Meatballs, that’s the place to go.
Tasting wine, there’s KIND OF a religious connection. Sorta?
You must pronounce Swedish SVE-DISH or they don’t let you in.
You'll bring back the Fargo movie stereotypes.
Every time I open my mouth to an “outsider” I bring back Fargo stereotypes.
Some of my extended family had a gathering at the NP Hotel restaurant on its last (or next-to-last) day of operation (we’re all part Bohemian). Chef Schumacher was making the rounds of the tables and schmoozing with da folks. He said the restaurant was still successful, but he’d been cheffing so long he wanted to try something else for a while.
I heard later that he was planning on opening a new restaurant nearby, but I don’t know if anything came of that.
I don’t think I’ve been to the Hamline one. Salem Lutheran for breakfast is sort of a family tradition (though I liked the Robbinsdale OES hall, too).
I probably won’t make it this year. I hope there’s still one or two left by the time I get back!
Here’s a quick story about our supposed accent...
Back in ‘96, I was in Nashville. I paid a guy to take me on a tour of some Civil War battlefields in and around Nashville. They guy was good. He knew his stuff.
But when he and I were driving to a battlefield location, he said “Steve, have you ever seen the movie ‘Fargo’?”. I looked at him and said “Yes, I have and no, we don’t sound like that. That accent is exagerrated”. he replies “Yes, you do kinda sound like that”.
I wanted to ask “Have you ever seen the move ‘Deliverance’? You sound like some of the guys in that movie”. But in the interest of harmony, I opted not to.
A consecrated wine bar.... Come to think of it, I wouldn’t put it past some of the trendier churches....
I saw Fargo in a Twin Cities movie theater. The audience somewhere between twittered and roared every time someone opened their mouth.
It’s like looking at yourself in a fun house mirror. You kind of recognize yourself but it is so distorted and exaggerated it you can’t help laughing.
Once I finished, she stared for a few more seconds, and then asked, "Boy, whar'd ye git that brogue?"
John Schumacher reopened the restaurant with an cafe style menu of more trendy dishes. There were a few old standby items, but the old Bohemian/German menu was gone. It ran a couple years and closed down last winter or early spring, I believe. I heard from a waitress that his wife has cancer and they wanted to devout time to beating it. I live in the area and went to the new place once - nothing like the old world place before, but good enough for a night out.
Thanks for the update. I’m sorry to hear about his wife’s cancer. I sure hope she beats it, if that’s still a possibility.
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