Faces of the Minnesota State Fair
If you go to the “Great Minnesota Get-Together” year after year, you start to remember the names of the blue ribbon winners in the 4-H building and the faces behind the counter at your favorite food booth. Ever wonder who they are? Or why they keep coming back?
St. Kate’s Brian Dusbiber sure did. And he secured a grant from the Minnesota Historical Society to find answers — and tell a story.
“[These] people work their tails off over the 12 days of the fair, and long before it even starts,” says Dusbiber,a research and planning analyst. “They are third- and fourth-generation in their businesses and fields of competition.”
In talking with proprietors like John Keenan (Ye Olde Mill), Gretchen Kantor (Space Tower) and sheep rancher Mike Caskey, he learned that family traditions and pride in craft or trade were two reasons they kept coming back. He also found an unspoken commitment that defines them all.
“What surprised me the most was their level of cooperation,” he notes. “They all consider themselves friends, and they want each other to succeed.”
Dusbiber hopes to compile his findings in a book one day. But for now, you can listen to his audio recordings — filled with nostalgia for thrill rides, Machinery Hill and, yes, even “wholesome meals” — at the state fair archives.