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Inspiring story of how free sunscreen for all is coming to the State Fair

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It's guaranteed to be sunny during the Minnesota State Fair, and this year visitors will have access to free sunscreen at dispensers at every information booth on the fairgrounds.

The Fair's website says the SPF 30 Vanicream Sunscreen will be made available through a partnership of Vanicream Sunscreen, the Masonic Cancer Center, the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota State Fair.

The Pioneer Press called the free sunscreen idea "the simplest and most practical news" of all the new additions to the 2015 Great Minnesota Get Together.

MinnPost has the back story on how the sunscreen project came to fruition.

Dr. Megan Wood, now a resident/intern at Hennepin County Medical Center, lost her father to melanoma. John W. Wood, Jr., a Wayzata attorney, died in 2012 at age 65, six months after being diagnosed.

“I wanted to do something, to change the world, to make a difference,” Wood told MinnPost

She focused on providing sunscreen at outdoor venues to prevent skin cancer, which is on the rise. Last year, she conducted a survey at the State Fair, gathering data from 320 fairgoers about their sunscreen practices. She found 88 percent said they would use sunscreen, if available.

In January, Wood pitched her idea to offer free sunscreen to Fair officials. They went on to make a deal with Pharmaceutical Specialties, a Rochester based company that produces a high-end, dermatologist-recommended sunscreen.

“We all had the same goal: save people from skin cancer. The fair wanted to do something good for the public and the company wanted to get its name out there,” she said.

Wood and fair officials anticipate that fairgoers will slather some 100 gallons of sunscreen on their skin during this year's event, which runs from August 27 through September 7.

The Texas State Fair began offering free sunscreen in 2013.

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