Words from Wiger: The best of Minnesota


MN State Senator Chuck Wiger, District 43

Many of us love the Minnesota State Fair. Whether it be 4H exhibits, the farm animals, midway rides, machinery hill, all types of food, great entertainment, information galore, the people and much more — this is the best fair in America. 

It is the Great Minnesota Eat Together! 

I have enjoyed going to the fair ever since I was a young child. I still look forward to visiting the various buildings with the wide range of exhibits from the Miracle of Birth Center to the woodworking projects in the crafts building. I always learn so much. I also have fun meeting area residents who may have earned a ribbon for their project or who are working at the fair. It’s almost impossible to visit the fair without running into someone you know!

 This year’s fair begins Thursday, Aug. 23, and runs through Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 3. As usual, the fair marks the bittersweet end of summer and beginning of fall.

 Here are some of the new State Fair offerings that you and your family might enjoy: 

• Pet pavilion. A new 6,600-square-foot open-air pavilion houses purebred dog breed booths and a pet surgery suite. Veterinarians will perform spay and neuter surgeries. Obedience demonstrations will be performed in a new grassy outdoor demonstration area.

• Gorgeous new kitchen. The former Creative Activities Demonstration Kitchen has been transformed into a state-of-the-art kitchen that features demonstrations by local chefs.

• New rides. There are two new kiddie rides — a carousel and a rotating teacup. There are also five new thrill rides, including a Haunted Castle Dark Ride. This is the largest traveling haunted attraction in North America, making its debut at the Minnesota State Fair.

• Eco Experience. This is the largest environmental education event of its kind in the country. It is a partnership of the State Fair, the Minnesota pollution Control Agency and more than 150 organizations and businesses.

• Draft and mini horse shows. More draft horses and charming minis will show off in the exhibition ring, mostly on the weekends.

• The Hangar. This is a new destination with an aircraft theme that features food, craft beer and entertainment.

• Livestock shows. Visit the cattle barns to see shows with dairy goats, Hereford cattle, sheep and Charolais cattle.

• Mental Health Day. For the first time, the Fair will feature a Mental Health Awareness day on August 27. Visitors can explore mental health and wellness resources through stage performances, music, demonstrations, yoga and more. More than 30 awareness-raising activities, many of them geared for children and teens, will be offered.

The opening of the fair is a time to reflect on a bit of history.

 Minnesota became a state in 1858 and the first State Fair was held in 1859.

 During the fair’s early years, the site changed annually with stops in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Rochester, Red Wing, Winona and Owatonna. In the 1870s and early 1880s, civic groups worked to provide a permanent home for the fair. Finally, in 1885, Ramsey County donated its 210-acre poor farm to the state. Over the years, the Minnesota State Fair grew to its current 320 acres.

 Here’s some other interesting State Fair facts.

 Since it began, the fair has been held every year with five exceptions: in 1861 and 1862 due to the Civil War, in 1893 due to the World’s Fair in Chicago, in 1945 due to World War II travel restrictions and in 1946 due to a polio epidemic.

If you laid them end to end, the number of foot-long hotdogs sold at the fair every year would stretch for 35 miles, and an average of 365,000 corn dogs are consumed by fair goers each year.

About 140 tons of potatoes, or the weight of 290 cows, are used by the fair’s three largest French fry vendors. About 25 acres of corn are sold at the Corn Roast booth every year, and Sweet Martha’s produces 2,000 cookies every minute.

Nearly 4 million individual mini donuts are consumed each year, and in general, about 300 food vendors dish up nearly 500 different offerings.

The State Fair Day that holds the record for total rainfall is Aug. 30, 1977 when it rained 7.35 inches. The record high temperature was 104 in 1931 and the record low was 33 in 1890.

The State Fair does not receive government funding or taxpayer dollars of any kind. It is completely self-supporting.

Our excellent Minnesota county fairs — Ramsey and Washington, particularly — also deserve praise for the outstanding job that they do every year.

For more information and a complete listing of events, please visit mnstatefair.org. And come and see me in the Minnesota Senate booth in the Education Building! I will be there on Monday, Aug. 27, from 2 to 4 p.m. I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas for the next legislative session, which begins Tuesday, January 8, 2019.

 

As always, I can be reached by email at sen.chuck.wiger@senate.mn and by phone at 651-296-6820.

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