Heading Back in Time at the Great Minnesota Get-Together

Northland Uncovered: MN State Fair

Fairs across the country are the source of family memories for many.

The Minnesota State Fair has been bringing family fun to the Midwest for more than 160 years.

“The fair actually goes back to 1854, before Minnesota was even a state,” said Mark Haidet, a Minnesota State Fair Historian.

Haidet moved to Minnesota in 1976 and attended his first fair that same year.

Although Haidet was impressed by his first visit, he wasn’t up to making the trip two years in a row,”My wife said to me, when are we gonna go to the fair year two, and I said we went last year, we’ll go every 3 or 4 years.”

When the day came, working in the yard alone didn’t compare to the fair.

“I said what’s wrong with this picture? She’s at the fair having fun. I’ve never missed a fair since,” said Haidet.

Now a member of the State Fair Foundation, his home base is the J.V. Bailey house where state agriculture board members would originally stay during the six day fair.

“The family for the head groundskeeper would live here until the early 2000’s,” added Haidet.

Built in 1911, it was the last occupied building on the fairgrounds.

Education and fair preservation are two of the foundation’s missions.

“It’s a great educational environment. People don’t realize all the educational facets that are here,” Haidet said.

Haidet believes the fair and 4-H gives back generation after generation, “the fair is a great generator of special family stories and memories.”

“We work really hard at our farm to try to promote the dairy industry and make sure people understand what’s going on,” said 4-H member Clay Carlson.

It’s a fair tradition and learning experience for many young Minnesotans.

“The farmers would gather together to celebrate and learn about new crops and new techniques and new equipment,” said Haidet.

Today, it’s a 12 day experience attracting fair goers from across the country.

“The fair is exhausting, but it’s also exhilarating. You just get the energy from all the people having a good time,” said Haidet.

Of all the history at the Great Minnesota Get-Together, there is one iconic thing no one can miss. Fairchild is celebrating his 50th year as mascot.

“Henry Fairchild was the key figure in St. Paul that helped negotiate the deal that the Ramsey County Poor Farm would become the permanent home of the state fair,” explained Haidet.

The Minnesota State Fair runs through Labor Day.

For a list of all activities taking place at the fair, head to the Minnesota State Fair’s website.

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