If Wisconsin and Minnesota were related, Wisconsin would be the crazy aunt. The one who drinks dark beer with her oatmeal and wears a vintage lampshade as a hat. Welcoming and endearing but nonetheless eccentric. I guess it’s kind of difficult to explain.

This past weekend I drove to Wisconsin for a Beer and Cheese Fest. A whole festival of beer and cheese! Could there be a better combination? No. That pretty much sums up happiness right there, especially for these ‘sconnie folk. The Fest –fests are something Wisconsin does, I think due to a large German population, and most towns have a fest dedicated to a unique something. My friend’s town celebrates Broiler Fest which is an entire day of broiled chicken and kickball –took place in La Crosse, a college town two and a half hours southeast of The Cities, which is what they call the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area (aka where I live.)

But beer! And cheese! Of all the different fest possibilities, beer and cheese is arguably ingenious. Under outdoor tents, the festers carried their 4-oz glass to different vendors, tasting the different beer concoctions: raspberry porters, honey-almond lagers, blonde pale ales, while snacking on Wisconsin’s finest dairy products. All varieties of deliciousness. Supposedly a contest occurs, but the past two years I have gotten too drunk to remember voting.

I went to Beer and Cheese to visit friends from college, particularly my freshman-year roommate who now lives in Chicago. I miss her so much. She is one whose love of life is contagious. Wearing bright yellow knee-high rain boots that she somehow pulled off as fun and stylish, she would say things like, “Mol, when you get married, I hope you’re not planning anything classy because I will crash it. And be slop.” Or, “Don’t eat too many hot dogs –I’m only on my third –because we’re getting Erbs and Gerbs in four hours. Soup AND sandwiches so be prepared.” If you knew her, you would love her, unquestionably, she is that fantastic.

I lasted until bar-time; years after college graduation and I can still master the art of all-day drinking.

And, just as additional examples of Wisconsin eccentricities: someone brought their puppy, a four-month golden lab to the bar; also, our BBQ grill consisted of hot dogs, brats, and a giant summer sausage? And another good one: a friend told me that, in his drunken stupor, he pissed himself last night but after all that IS why he bought his plastic sheets. True. Can’t really argue with that logic. Additionally, this weekend marked the first time I used the line, “Um, you know I can’t sleep with you because you’re my cousin, right?” He went home with … another cousin. Um, ok.

I fucking love Wisconsin.