The Minnesota State Fair is the largest in North America, based on average daily attendance and it kicks off for 2018 next Thursday August 23. Gates open at 6 a.m. To whet our collective appetites as the countdown is on, here are a facts for fans to level up to expert fair trivia masters.
- The Minnesota State Fair opened at its current location on September 7, 1885 and is considered a quasi-state agency under the direction of the Minnesota State Agricultural Society. The MSA Society was created solely for the purpose of running the State Fair.
2. There are about 300 food concession stands with almost 500 dishes at the fair. Sweet Martha’s Cookie Jar continues to top the most sold food items list year after year, producing three million cookies each and every day. No word on what percentage ends up on the pavement.
3. Nothing goes better with a warm, gooey cookie than milk, and the All You Can Drink Milk booth, at the corner of Judson and Clough, serves over 25,000 gallons over the duration of the fair. It would take an average cow around 10 years to produce that much milk, so luckily there are plenty of hard-working cows in Minnesota.
4. The two Fresh Cut French Fry Stands have been open at the fair since 1973 and go through about 400,000 pounds of Minnesota-grown potatoes, 3,000 gallons of oil, and 25,000 pounds of ketchup.
4. Over 25,000 ears of corn are roasted, slathered in butter and served out of the Corn Roast booth every day.
5. Church dining halls once numbered in the dozens, feeding hungry Minnesotans hearty meals for pennies. Now, only two remain: Hamline Church Dining Hall and the Salem Lutheran Church Hall. After 80 years, Robbinsdale Order of the Eastern Star is the latest to close after the fair run last year. Hamline Church Dining Hall is the oldest concessions vendor at the fair, opening in 1897. Salem Lutheran Church Hall still serves old fashioned egg coffee at old school prices.
6. Tom Thumb Mini Donuts were introduced to the masses at the Minnesota State Fair in the early 1950s by Minneapolis baker Jan Desmond for ten cents a bag. Desmond and her husband wanted a baked good that could be easily consumed while traversing the streets of the fair. Tom Thumb Donuts, named after the tiny English folklore character, quickly became a must-eat item fairs around the Midwest.