Meet the State Fair vendor who gives her leftover stock to nuns


It's the last day of the Minnesota State Fair, and Lara Rush is preparing to close up shop.

Prices for all the clothes at the store, Flora's Clothing, she and her husband run in the West End Market, are on sale for $10, except for their famous tie-dye items, which are going for $20.

"We opened this morning at 7:30 a.m. and there was someone already here waiting," Rush told BringMeTheNews. "They were visiting from Oklahoma and had heard about our tie-dye."

At the end of the day, nuns from the Little Sisters of the Poor in St. Paul will arrive and take everything they haven't sold, to be passed on to the needy in the Twin Cities and beyond.

"We've been doing this for 46 years ago and then since about 10 years ago the Little Sisters of the Poor have been coming, and I give them everything we have left," Rush said.

For Rush and some of the other vendors at the State Fair, this is their only gig of the year, selling their wares for 12 days and then they're done.

"We are going to keep doing this until they have to carry us out," Rush says, praising the atmosphere of the fair and the "fair family" she and her husband Andy have become part of with their neighboring vendors.

With it being the last day, there are plenty of last chance deals available across the fairgrounds, particularly from businesses that only sell during the fair.

Sam Simonson started selling his famous spoon rings (yes, rings made from ornate spoon handles), at the State Fair 42 years ago, with his stall having moved to the West End Market when it opened three years ago.

On Labor Day, his stall is offering half price on all of its manufactured jewelry, including bracelets and earrings.

The one thing not cut-priced are his famous spoon rings, which go for between $25 and $50 and are made by Simonson himself.

"When I started I was a teacher in Wayzata I had six children and I need to make some extra income, we did it to start as a way to keep food on the table, it became a way to get the whole family involved," the 84-year-old told BringMeTheNews.

Three of his daughters are helping out at the stall on Monday, and his son-in-law and grandsons have learned to make spoon rings themselves.

"But it's not only to make money, it's such a fun thing to do and it's good that it's become a family thing," he added. "I'd say 8 percent of our business is repeat customers. I have people come up to me who say they bought bracelets from me 30 years ago."

At the till at the Greg's Toys stall in the West End Market is Brenda, Greg's wife, who says the pair have traveled from North Carolina to sell at the State Fair.

The pair sell handmade wooden toys and the Minnesota State Fair is their only gig outside of their home state, as when they're not selling they are enjoying a well-earned retirement.

They have been showing in Minnesota for eight years, only deciding to venture out of North Carolina after a Minnesota vendor visiting one of the shows they were exhibiting at suggested they apply for a stall at the Great Minnesota Get-Together.

"This is really a nice show," she told BringMeTheNews. "The people are friendly and really seem to enjoy the fair. Everyone's always really enthusiastic."

Find a handmade wooden toy in a regular toy store and likely you're paying a premium, but Greg and Brenda's are all affordable – even without running any last day sales, you can pick up toys from just $2.

In fact, it was so reasonable, this reporter bought a little gift for his son (see above at right).

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