Photo Essays

The Minnesota State Fair in Pictures

by Jillian Steinhauer on August 30, 2013

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

IF

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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  • samthor

    wow, butter carving is really a thing. a real thing. …just …wow.

  • Guest

    One thing not captured by these pictures is just how many people are in attendance. On a calm day it looks like rush hour in Hong Kong.

    • Jillian Steinhauer

      Yeah, I wanted to capture the crowds and constant streams of people, but I just couldn’t figure out how with my limited camera & photography skills.

  • Beth-Ann Bloom

    Lillian Colton died in 2007. I think your picture is of her daughter Linda PAulsen.

    • Jillian Steinhauer

      Thank you. I will fix.

  • Bridget Batch

    Love. So many memories of that place.

  • punktoad

    Gotta love the Beast Jesus crop art!

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