State Fair: New excitement, musty history

It’s almost time for the Minnesota State FairIdaho Nachos, Deep Fried OlivesSynthetic Ice Rinks … all awesome! Duluthians look at me like I’m nuts when I say I secure a hotel room every year and spend 3-4 days at the fair every year. I used to spend 4-6 days, when I lived in St. Paul. I love the fried food, I love Lililan Colton’s crop art.

I’ve been digging around in historical newspapers lately for research. I found that the Congdons loved the fair. The Minneapolis Morning Tribune (Aug 5, 1917) tells the story:  Helen Congdon was an advocate in a women’s group that worked with the Minneapolis Institute of Art in organizing a competition for children.  

The Congdons loved the fair; why is it uncool for today’s Duluthians to love the fair? or do I just have the wrong friends?



about 11 years ago

You're doing it right. I think the fair is a tough sell for a one-day event. Having the time to lolligag and pick your spots each day would be ideal. I recall me and the Mrs. on a whim going a few years ago on what happened to be the new single-day attendance record. We entered and were immediately trapped in the throng because a parade was passing. It was miserable. We ended up gong to the places nobody goes to, like the Heritage Village to watch how newspapers were once produced.

[email protected]

about 11 years ago

You are right!

We learned that a few hours over a few days is best -- arrive Friday and get some dinner, just 3 or 4 hours (because we can't get there much before 7).  Saturday, arrive around noon... leave before the drinking is too much.  Sunday, get there by Breakfast and leave when you are tired...

Paul Lundgren

about 11 years ago

The attendance record Spy1 referred to occurred on Sept. 4, 2010, when 234,384 people attended the fair in a single day.

I'm surprised I didn't bump into you, Spy.


about 11 years ago

People in Duluth usually are not the type to enjoy huge crowds, traffic and lines longer than my... driveway. 

That is likely why you get the look when mentioning this. Many of us simply cannot fathom spending more than a day in that sea of people.


about 11 years ago

What is this crazy talk of Duluthians avoiding the State Fair?  I LOVE the State Fair and look forward to it every year! My fair favorites include (in no particular order):

1. Seed art, as mentioned above.
2. Giant pumpkins in the horticulture building.
3. Bull Bites from Axel's.
4. Wine ice cream found in the Minnesota Wine Growers' building.
5. Sweet corn ice cream with bacon butter sauce from the Blue Moon Cafe.
6. Pork chop on a stick.
7. Paintings and sculptures in the Fine Arts Building.
8. Gizmo sandwich.
9. Dairy barn butter heads.
10. 1919 root beer.
11. Garbage sculpture outside the DNR building.
12. Giant slide.

And those are just a few things off the top of my head. I'd love to hear about any other favorites that Duluthian fair goers would recommend.

Barrett Chase

about 11 years ago

I'm with Dorkus. Several days at the fair sounds like hell on earth.

But it's not the crowds and the lines. It's more like, in my opinion, the food is gross, the music is crap, and everything else is unbelievably boring. But, to each his own, and if you love it and you have fun there (as many people obviously do), more power to you.


about 11 years ago

I went to the State Fair once. What a horrible experience. The sunburn, the queasiness, the dust, the lack of shade, the herds of people mooing and bumping you, the money flying out of my wallet...I couldn't leave fast enough. I can see lambs and quilts somewhere else.

K. Praslowicz

about 11 years ago

I'll be representing Duluth in the Fine Art exhibit this year. So there is another reason to get yourself from Duluth to the fair.


about 11 years ago

Then I read this today:

The Minnesota Newspaper Foundation was informed July 24 of plans by the Minnesota State Fair to raze Heritage Square and revamp the area into a transportation hub. The Fair Board has not officially adopted the plan but it is "95-98% likely" that it will happen, according to Jim Sinclair, Deputy General Manager of the State Fair. The final vote to proceed will be made by the Fair Board prior to Labor Day of this year. Work is likely to start soon after the close of the 2013 Fair. The project will mean that the Minnesota Newspaper Museum that has been a part of Heritage Square since 1987 will need to be moved or razed.


about 11 years ago

I usually take a trip to the fair. I always seem to run into someone else from Duluth when I am there.

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