Although the Minnesota State Fair was canceled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Minnesotans still found a way to celebrate the Great Minnesota Get-Together.
From an arts exhibition and virtual competitions to the crowning of the Princess Kay of the Milky Way and a Food Parade, many still got their fix of the fair this year.
“Our mission is to bring millions of people together, and that couldn’t happen this year,” State Fair General Manager Jerry Hammer said in a news release Thursday. “We’re reaching out in new ways to keep the State Fair spirit alive, and working hard to keep our operation intact for the future of the fair. It’s been a challenging year so far, but also a rewarding experience that ultimately strengthens the fair. Look for more from the State Fair real soon.”
Here's a look at this year's modified fair:
The "grand finale" of this year's modified fair season featured the first-ever Minnesota State Fair Food Parade. Tickets for the event sold out within hours, and 19,000 vehicles made their way through a 1.5-mile parade on the fairgrounds to get bites to eat from 16 different vendors.
The Turkey to Go stand was among the vendors at the Food Parade, selling 16,050 pounds of turkey meat and drumsticks during the 13 days of the parade.
Meanwhile, 60,000 pounds of potatoes were used to make fries at Fresh French Fries; 70,000 lemons were squeezed to make lemonade at the Cheese On-A-Stick and Fresh-Squeezed Lemonade booth; 15,000 sticks were used for giant egg rolls by Que Viet and 78,000 wontons were hand-folded for the restaurant's garlic cream cheese wontons.
Sweet Martha's Cookies was selling buckets of cookies to Food Parade attendees, with the largest order of the 13-day run being 15 buckets of cookies (by the last weekend of the Food Parade, the menu said the limit for buckets of cookies was 10 per car).
The State Fair's mascots, Fairchild and Fairborne, traveled 200 miles along the parade route as they waved to attendees.
Typically, breweries make gimmicky beers to sell exclusively on the fairgrounds during the 12-day event. That obviously couldn't happen this year, but several breweries still made State Fair-themed brews to mark the occasion. To complement the beers, the State Fair sold its iconic cups – a whopping 220,000 of them.
The State Fair held the 2020 Fine Arts Exhibition of Minnesota in-person and virtually from Aug. 27-Labor Day. The event featured 346 artists who were selected through an online juried competition. Then, the Fine Arts Center held the exhibition in-person - the event sold-out with 3,600 people viewing the exhibition. You can see it online, too, here.
Brenna Connelly of Byron was crowned the 67th Princess Kay of the Milky Way on Aug. 12, with the event live-streamed on Facebook. And despite the State Fair being canceled this year, Connelly still got her likeness carved into a 90-pound block of butter.
Tickets for the 2021 Minnesota State Fair and previously announced Grandstand shows are on sale now. You can buy tickets on the fair's website here.
The 2021 fair runs Aug. 26 through Labor Day, Sept. 6.