Photo Essays

The Minnesota State Fair in Pictures

These foot-long hot dog stands are all around the Minnesota State Fair. (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic)
These foot-long hot dog stands are all around the Minnesota State Fair. (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic)

ST. PAUL — This week I had the distinct pleasure of visiting the Minnesota State Fair, the largest state fair in the country by average daily attendance. Before the trip, I had never been to either Minnesota or a state fair; needless to say, I was excited.

The fair is essentially the size of a small town, with a network of streets that sprawl out from the massive Grandstand. It encompasses everything from carnival rides and a “Miracle of Birth Center,” where you can see animals give birth, to lots filled with tractors and cars and a fine-art exhibition. You can find a startling array of foods on a stick: hot dogs, deep-fried cheese, Belgian waffles, alligator. You can buy a jacuzzi and enlist in the Army, watch a bee-keeping demonstration or live butter-sculpture carving. The fair assaults your senses, swinging you back and froth between euphoria and exhaustion. At one point, I found myself sitting in a gazebo in 90-degree heat, digging into honey sunflower ice cream as a marching band rolled by playing songs from Les Misérables. It was the best kind of overwhelming.

I had come for Wednesday’s nighttime Grandstand show, the Walker Art Center’s second Internet Cat Video Festival. That was another experience in itself, one I’ll post about next week. But for three hours beforehand, I wandered around the fair trying to take in as much as possible. Here are some of my photos from the fair that’s aptly nicknamed the “Great Minnesota Get-Together.”

A marching band in Wednesday's parade
A marching band on parade
Princesses in the parade
Princesses in the parade
The Horiculture building
The Horiculture building
Giant, award-winning pumpkins
Giant prize-winning pumpkins
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A bee colony and prize-winning honey
Crop art, aka art made from seeds and corn kernels. Two favorite contributions: Beast Jesus and Grumpy Cat.
Crop art, aka art made from seeds and corn kernels. Two favorites: Beast Jesus and Grumpy Cat.
The seed queen of crop art, Lillian Colton
Making crop art
Minnesota apples
Minnesota apples
Butter-sculpture carving
On-site butter-sculpture carving
The Fine Arts Building
The Fine Arts Building
The exhibition inside contained 340 artworks selected out of 1,885 submissions
The exhibition inside contained 340 artworks selected out of 1,885 submissions.
Gun safes for sale
Gun safes for sale
Mowers for sale
Mowers for sale
Inside the Luminarium, a blow-up structure filled with different-colored glowing rooms
Inside the Luminarium, a blow-up structure filled with different-colored glowing rooms
Tired
Long day
The Grandstand, where the 2nd Internet Cat Video Festival was held
The Grandstand, where the 2nd Internet Cat Video Festival was held
This french-fry seller was leading "YMCA."
This french-fry seller was leading “YMCA.”
Horses
Horses
Sheep
Sheep
Texas steak dinner on a stick
Texas steak dinner on a stick
Announcing the winner of a dance contest
Announcing the winner of a dance contest
Free constitution and sunscreen!
Free constitution and sunscreen
Late-night fireworks over the Grandstand
Late-night fireworks over the Grandstand

The Minnesota State Fair (1265 Snelling Ave N, St. Paul, Minnesota) continues through Labor Day, Monday, September 2. More information can be found here.

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