Archived Story

The fair: My summer highlight [UPDATED]

Published 7:37am Friday, September 3, 2010 Updated 7:42am Friday, September 3, 2010

There is hardly a year that I have missed attending the Minnesota State Fair in my lifetime.

That’s because my grandma loved the fair. That resulted in my Dad’s love of the fair — a love of the summer extravaganza that most definitely was handed down to me.

The fair runs just three more days. I haven’t got there yet this year, but hope to get there this weekend.

Pronto Pups, honey lemonade, food on a stick and all the milk you can drink for $1 — I’m getting hungry and thirsty just thinking about it!

I enjoy looking at the animals, products for sale, and the interesting people wandering the fairgrounds.

Ye Olde Mill, the Midway, and The Giant Slide — those are just a few of my favorite fair memories.

I also like to wander the 4-H barns, looking to see if any local 4_hers have animals at the fair. They usually do.

And this year, I can even see the likeness of Battle Lake’s Kristin Boyum carved in butter because she was a finalist for Princess Kay of the Milky Way.

The Minnesota State Fair — known as the Great Minnesota Get-together, is rooted in the memories of many Minnesotans and it’s history runs very deep.

After four years of territorial fairs, the first Minnesota State Fair was held in 1859 near what became downtown Minneapolis. That was the year after Minnesota was granted statehood.

Since then, the fair has run annually except for five different years. In 1861 and 1862, the fair was not held because of the Civil War and the Dakota War of 1862. Scheduling issues between the fair and the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois caused the 1893 show to be canceled. The fair again closed because of war in 1945, as fuel was in short supply. It was again closed in 1946 because of an outbreak of polio.

The 2010 Minnesota State Fair, now located in the St. Paul suburb of Falcon Heights, is the 151st edition of the fair.

One of the most significant dates in the fair’s history was September 2, 1901 when then-Vice President Theodore Roosevelt was visiting and first uttered the famous phrase, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” Roosevelt became president just days later after William McKinley was assassinated.

In 1925, the Minnesota State Fair was the site of the Norse-American Centennial celebration. During his appearance at the Norse-American Centennial, President Calvin Coolidge gave recognition to the contributions of Scandinavian-Americans and noted Leif Erikson as the discoverer of America.

With presidents attending and all, the fair sure sounds like it used to be a serious deal. Those early fair organizers probably never imaged the fair would celebrate food as much as agriculture and dairy.

Fair visitors have their own reasons for coming to the fair. Their motivation may be food, entertainment, exhibits, animals, rides, etc.

In 2009 1,790,497 people attended the fair, but it was one of those rare years that I wasn’t able to attend. But little did I know that I could have attended the fair, at least virtually, on my computer at the official Minnesota State Fair website at The next best thing to actually going to the fair is finding the official Minnesota State Fair website!

Jeff Hage is the managing editor of The Daily Journal. Reach him by email at

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