Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Great Minnesota Get Together - Part One

Did you miss us?  Sorry, we took a bit of time to catch up with ourselves the last couple of weeks.  Summer finally arrived in Minnesota this year and we had to take advantage of it - yep we know it's August, but that's how it goes here in our part of the world.  Speaking of summer and August, we just had to go to The Great Minnesota Get Together, our state's fair.  We hadn't been in many a year so thought it was time to see what we were missing.  In the process of deciding on which day or days would be the best (the fair runs for 12 days), we were invited by our farm marketing consultant to tag along to take photos and blog about his family being a part of the Travel Channel's show "Bizarre Foods" with Andrew Zimmern.  This particular TV show will  be based on the food that is served at the state fair, especially the not-so-normal food fair variety.

Television crew of  "Bizarre Foods" getting set up for the taping of this show. Bret Oelke is watching for Andrew Zimmern, the shows creator to arrive.
And here he comes.....walking down the sheep stall aisle.

 Now how did the Oelke family from Barrett, MN get to be a part of this gig?  Bret and Lorie and their family are well known for their multi-generational raising and showing of sheep at the county and state fair level.  You know that phrase, "it's not always what you know, but who you know" - well, with Bret's extension and marketing career he has become acquainted with several different entities that deal with agriculture and foods.  A member of the TV crew, whose father has been in charge of the sheep barns at the state fair for many years, knew exactly who to contact when "Bizarre Foods" decided they wanted to have an unusual "food to fork" segment as a part of the show.
"The Taping"
Andrew visiting with Jackie on camera about what she needs to do to get her sheep ready for showing. 

 Mr. Zimmern (Andrew) and his crew followed the Oelke family as they entered the fairgrounds, nestled their sheep in their 4-H and Open Class stalls and learned about the raising of sheep not only for show but for food.  Andrew especially liked the idea of eating mutton (which is not a typical food in most households or one eaten at the state fair).  The Oelke family served up a mutton sausage with sauerkraut, peppers and onions on a bun.  It was very tasty!

Mutton sausages smothered in peppers and onions, cooked in a crock pot and YES right in the sheep barn!
Andrew and Bret talking about the end product of the mutton sausages and ready to take a bite!

The crew also followed Jackie, the youngest daughter, as she showed her sheep at the 4-H judging (where she earned 2 Grand Champions - way to go Jackie!).
Jackie showing her Grand Champion!

 It will be interesting to see when the show airs if they tie the whole thing together with the raising of animals, in this case, sheep.  How they are not raised as pets but as food and where that food actually comes from.  Bret, Lorie and family in their travels and our family in our travels find that many, MANY people believe that food comes from a store.  (Do you know of any stores that you raise, nurture, show and than eat.....hmmmmm).  It is a comfort that the world is talking about food and its' origins, but they need to know the real story and how important it is that genetic testing and modifications are available because it's a plain fact that no more land is made on this earth but yet our population keeps growing.  We need to figure out a way to feed everyone so no one goes hungry.  Okay enough on my soapbox....
The family asked Andrew if he would sign their sheep jackets.
 Note: The jackets keep the sheep clean for showing.

Bizarre Foods - Andrew Zimmern's calling card!  Pretty neat!
It will be super exciting to see the show on TV because we were right there during the taping.  We'll keep you posted on when that will be.  A special thanks to Bret, Lorie and family for letting us be a part of your family's TV debut and for being advocates of agriculture.  You guys rock!
Visitors in the sheep barn were wondering what was going on.....recognized Andrew Zimmern and watched the taping!
My hubby even got in on the action as the "gate keeper".  He watched the area so the camera crew had plenty of room to work in.  This was not a studio set-up, the filming was right in the sheep barn with all the other events going on.
Gotta love that Douglas County Corn and Soybean Growers T-shirt!

 And as the director said at the end of the taping - "That's a wrap!"

Thanks for reading - Julie - 

P.S. Here's the famous recipe - try it for yourselves!

Oelke Family Mutton Sausage Recipe
(click here for a printable version)

2# - mutton sausage (or any kind of sausage)
1 - red pepper
1 - green pepper
1 - red onion
1 - bag of refrigerated sauerkraut.

Slice up peppers and onions.  Place sausages in bottom of crock pot, place pepper and onion slices on top along with the sauerkraut.  Cook on high 3-4 hours, low 6-7 hours.  Serve on bun!  Yum-Yum!

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