Who can cut it? Lawn mower demolition derby featured at fair

There wasn't much grass to be seen at the Goodhue County Fair in Zumbrota, Minn., where lawn mower riders gathered Tuesday night. But they weren't there to mow grass. WCCO photojournalist Joe Mears captured the story of the fair’s first-ever Lawn Mower Derby.
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WCCO photojournalist Joe Mears captures the sights and sounds of the Goodhue County Fair’s first-ever Lawn Mower Derby.

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140 artists featured at craft fair in St. Paul

Are you creative or crafty and looking for something to do Saturday? The 7th annual St. Paul Craftstravaganza, an urban craft fair with 140 artists, continues until 5 p.m. Saturday at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in the Fine Arts Building and the Progress Center next door. It's free.

Stratosphere fair ride shut down yet again

The Stratosphere swing ride, which has malfunctioned several times this year at the Minnesota State Fair, was shut down again Wednesday night, fair officials said. Guests were let off the ride and it was tested without riders, WCCO reported. Operators are now changing out a part as a safety precaution. Late Wednesday, it was not clear when the ride would reopen.

Pronto Pup celebrates 65 years at the fair

At the Minnesota State Fair, the hungry masses have more than 500 food choices, but there is always a line at the Pronto Pup booths. The iconic fair staple – a hot dog, dipped in batter, fried and put on a stick – has not changed since its fair debut in 1947.

Mystic Lake Derby debuts at Canterbury Park

Canterbury Park offered its richest purse ever for a single race at the track on Saturday. The $161,000 Mystic Lake Derby was the first significant event since the horse track partnered with the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. Last month, the owners of Mystic Lake Casino agreed to pay $75 million over the next decade to boost racing purses at Canterbury Park. In exchange, the racetrack will drop its longstanding push to add slot machines. Hammers Terror won the inaugural race, with jockey Lori Keith in the saddle.

County fairs face increasing challenges

Mother nature, the economic downturn, lack of volunteers and more competition are among the challenges county fairs are facing these days. The St. Cloud Times examined financial reports from the nonprofit agricultural societies that operate county fairs in Stearns, Benton and Sherburne counties. The newspaper found Benton and Stearns most recently reported minimal operating surpluses, while Sherburne has lost thousands of dollars.

State Fair asks: Your favorite karaoke song?

Nearly 50,000 Minnesota State Fair visitors last year sang at the karaoke-style Giant Sing Along, which features rows of microphones to encourage group participation. This year, the fair is planing a more extensive playlist and extended hours, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Visit the fair's website to vote for your favorite sing-along tune.