Ah, the Minnesota State Fair—largest state fair in the country by daily attendance, and second only to Texas (which goes on twice as long, don’t you know) in total attendance! The fair has been a thing since way back in 1854 when it was the Minnesota Territorial Fair, and has happened every year except 1861 and 1862 when both the Civil War and the Dakota War were in progress and again in 1945 and 1946 when we were dealing with World War Two and then a polio outbreak. Minnesota has had all sorts of other hardships over the years—but except for those few occasions I mentioned, the fair has always gone on, right on schedule.
|Fairchild--the Fair Mascot (Jonathunder)|
My first Fair experience was in 1969 when I traveled “all the way up to the Cities” to show my prize winning pig. It both memorable and eye-opening, for me, a teenage farm boy, to find myself in the middle of all the Fair craziness and in the middle of the big city to boot. But I managed it for three days—sleeping in the FFA dorm at night, taking care of Toody the pig during the day, and otherwise spending a lot of quality time unloading all my summer job cash in the midway and filling up on lots of deep fried cheese curds. I’ve been going to the fair ever since. Not every year, mind you, but pretty much.
Last summer was the year that poultry farms across the country were devastated by avian influenza. Millions of birds succumbed to this highly infectious pathogen. The fair went on as usual, but there were no birds in the poultry barn—the Minnesota Board of Animal Health had banned all live poultry shows. All the chicken folks showed up, nevertheless. Instead of displaying their prize chickens in the Poultry Barn cages, they displayed pictures of their flocks! Everybody made the best of a bad situation, and the show went on!
This year the chickens are back in all their glory. Here are a few photos from my 2016 Minnesota State Fair experience.
|A typical fair scene--this one is just east of the Grandstands|
|The Poultry Barn|
|A very impressive Minorca rooster|
|A beautiful buff laced bearded Polish hen|
|A detail from a display in the Horticulture Building|
|This acrylic on canvas painting hanging in the Fine Arts Building is by artist Sharon Anne Dolan and is entitled “Dorothy’s House”. I like the colorful chickens quite a bit.|