It’s time once again for the Minnesota State Fair. Although, I do have an admission to make. Despite all of the excitement and buzz that is generated around the event each year, I have never been to the State Fair in my memory. My parents took me there when I was about 2, but that doesn’t really count since I don’t really remember. Every year, it just doesn’t work out for my family to go, but it always makes me wonder about how this event I keep hearing about got started.
The Minnesota State Fair, or the “Great Minnesota Get-Together” began in 1859, the year after Minnesota was admitted to the United States, following an earlier fair in the same area that started in 1854. In its 159-year history, the fair hasn’t been held only five times. According to their website, these are 1861 and 1862 due to the Civil War and Dakota War, 1893 because of conflicts with the Chicago World’s Fair, 1945 owing to World War II and 1946 following a polio outbreak.
If a history almost as long as our state itself isn’t an impressive enough achievement, the size of the fairgrounds in Falcon Heights is also an impressive statistic. The 322 acres of buildings, booths, rides and other attractions is equivalent to almost 250 football fields. This, combined with attendance numbers makes your average county fair seem rather small by comparison.
Last year’s fair drew a record 1,997,320 people over 12 days. This beat the previous record from 2016 by more than 50,000 people. This is almost twice as many visitors as our neighbor Wisconsin with their state fair in 2017, which according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, attracted a little more than a million people over 11 days.
And if you’re wondering how many people it takes to operate such a large undertaking as the fair, you would be correct in thinking a large number. From 80 full-time employees, the fair staff expands to more than 3,500 members during the time of the event. Since about 5,500 people live in Falcon Heights where the fair is located, this means the total staff of the fair is equivalent to around 60 percent of the local population.
From my experiences of the Benton County Fair, which I have been to several times, an event the size of the State Fair seems almost ridiculous. Though it isn’t the largest, the Benton County Fair has a wide array of things to do that if you really spent your time combing through all the exhibits and events, it would take a long time to accomplish.
The State Fair by the sheer size of it all would be almost impossible to take in all at once, which is perhaps why so many people go back year after year to see what is new or to enjoy their favorite foods and attractions.
Though I haven’t really experienced it myself, from hearing in the news and listening to friends and acquaintances that have been to the State Fair it is truly a great experience to visit it. More than anything, it’s a great thing to do with family and friends to get out and have fun and make memories, before summer is over and this busy world kicks back into gear.
Connor Kockler is a student at St. John’s University. He enjoys writing, politics, and news, among other interests.