Updated: 08/26/2013 6:36 AM KSTP.com By: Jennie Olson
Thousands of people headed to the fair on day one of the Great Minnesota Get-Together, and the number of fairgoers is only expected to increase as we head into the weekend. The Minnesota State Fair kicked off Thursday with plenty of food, animals and exhibits. Thursday's attendance was 106,852 visitors - that's 3,100 more than opening day last year.
For some of us, it’s the food that lures us to the state fair, and for others it’s the rides. But for many, particularly our young Minnesotans, it’s the animals that get them excited.
KSTP Reporter Rusty Gatenby was live at one of the state fairground barns Friday morning where they have everything from 4-H judging to horse shows going on this weekend.
This past Wednesday was move-in day for the animals at the Minnesota State Fair; 4-H participants from Brainerd and Little Falls arrived at the Fairgrounds at 7 a.m. There are 2,700 kids involved in the 4-H program at the State Fair, and they're each allowed to bring one animal. They all have earned their trip through their county fair.
Governor’s Fire Prevention Day
Friday is the Governor’s Fire Prevention Day at the state fair. At 10:10 a.m. Friday, a memorial service will honor fallen Minnesota firefighters at the Leinie Lodge Bandshell. All day, you can learn about fire-safe behavior in Carousel Park and West Dan Patch Avenue. There will also be early bird specials on the Midway and Kidway rides, which will be offered until 1 p.m.
Much is the same at the fair from years past, but there are a few new attractions and new foods for you to check out this time around. The Minnesota State Fair announced the addition of more than 40 new foods to the line-up, bringing the total to more than 450 foods from 300 concessions.
Princess Kay of the Milky Way
A 20-year-old college student from northwestern Minnesota was crowned the 60th Princess Kay of the Milky Way. Polk County representative MarJenna McWilliam of Winger was crowned Wednesday night at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. She'll serve as the official goodwill ambassador for nearly 4,000 Minnesota dairy farmers for the next year.
McWilliam attends North Dakota State University, where she majors in English education. Her first official duty as Princess Kay will be to sit in a rotating cooler in the Dairy Building on opening day of the Minnesota State Fair to have her likeness sculpted in a 90-pound block of butter.
This past Tuesday, fair rides started being assembled. Every ride is inspected once it enters the fairgrounds, and it's a long process that is done in phases.
"We look at them while they are in racks on the trucks, as they take them apart and put down the foundations and as they are working their way up,” says Joe Bixler, who manages ride safety at the fair. “We inspect the whole process until they are completely assembled.”
People who work on the rides generally work in shifts of 30 minutes to avoid fatigue. Also, music is monitored because if the music is too loud, workers can't hear if there are problems with the ride or riders.
While you’re at the fair this year, you’ll be able to meet some famous four-legged stars. The Budweiser Clydesdales are coming to the fair, marking their 80th anniversary with Anheuser-Busch. They will be at the fair for four days through Sunday, Aug. 25.
The Minnesota State Fair and its vendors are hoping to cash in big over the next two weeks. According to the Wall Street Journal, gross sales last year reached as high as $1.5 million for some vendors. In total throughout the fair, gross food and beverage sales jumped to nearly $35 million last year, up from $25 million in 2007.
Virtual Fair Tour
History meets high-tech in a new smartphone version of the Minnesota State Fair History Walking and Cell Phone Tour. In the tour, old photos, maps and text combine with audio of personal memories and narrated history. Access the new mobile website here.
You can take the free self-guided tour while walking around the fairgrounds, on your phone or on your computer. This year, two new tour stops were added about food at the fair and the history of the Department of Natural Resources Building and exhibits.
For a list of discount days, visit our Links page.
Find Us at the Fair
You can find 5 Eyewitness News at the fair. We’re in the building at the corner of Carnes Avenue and Chambers Street, which is our usual location. You can catch a front-row seat to our newscasts starting with our midday newscast.
The 2013 Minnesota State Fair runs through Labor Day, Sept. 2. For complete information, click here.