The Minnesota State Fair ended on Labor Day. It had the largest attendance of any fair in our state’s history. My son and I went on the opening day while everything was clean, workers still enthusiastic, and carnival rides in good working order.
I’ve never been to another state’s fair to compare, but I’m fond of ours. It is the second largest state fair in the country. Second only to Texas and well everything is bigger there.
Food is a big darn deal at the fair. There are all sorts of crazy things you can find. Deep fried olives, ravioli, pickles, candy bars – you name it and it has been battered and fried. Food on a stick is also a thing. Big Fat Bacon on a stick. Yeah, you betcha it’s there. Becoming a food vendor at the fair is a serious challenge. Hundreds of people come up with unique concoctions trying to woo the committee and gain a coveted piece of the action. Someone thought tater tots topped with banana slices and bacon was a good idea and the committee agreed.
Yet with all of the choices, year after year one food vendor does more business than anyone else. Sweet Martha’s Cookie Jar makes chocolate chip cookies and serves them in heaping paper cones and buckets. It is all they do and they do it well. The cookies are warm with just the perfect combination of crunch and melty goodness. Who doesn’t love warm chocolate chip cookies? I think offering someone a warm cookie makes them feel nostalgic, comforted, even loved.
Two couples own the business and they began more than 30 years ago after noticing there were no cookies available at the fair. They grew from one small stand to three impressive locations. In 2016 they sold over four million dollars worth of cookies in twelve days. Think about that for a moment. The distant second place vendor’s sales were just over a million dollars and that was the Midwest Dairy Association’s $2 All You Can Drink Milk booth. While it would be easy to get caught up in thoughts of making multi millions in twelve days it got me thinking something else.
What success could be ours if we all kept it simple? What would happen if rather than chasing after fancy things we focused on the basics? What if we didn’t allow ourselves to be distracted from following God, supporting our spouse, and loving our children? What if we poured our heart and soul into these simple things? Surely there are other tasks that need doing, but what if we truly focused on the basics. The cookie stands don’t offer sugar cookies or frosted cookies, instead, they’ve perfected the classic chocolate chip.
It is easy to overdo things these days. We are a country of consumers and achievers. We work, we spend, we publicize how great our lives are on social media. Often in excess. We overbook ourselves trying to fit it all in but in the process crowd out some of the best things. Things like church, exercise, friendships, and sunsets.
I think there is a lesson to be learned from the millionaire bakers. I’m taking note and looking forward to a dozen or so cookies next fair.