The first Minnesota State Fair was held in 1859 and has been held every year since then with five exceptions. This annual Minnesota summertime tradition has been well-documented through numerous formats, including the posters used to entice visitors to spend a day enjoying food, cheering at the horse races, or gasping for breath during a stunt-filled air show.
The Minnesota State Fair has always centered on Minnesota's agricultural history, with exhibits, events, and competitions showcasing food, farm machinery and livestock. This poster highlights a farmer proudly displaying a variety of food that is harvested in Minnesota.
Crops are not the only food associated with the State Fair. One of the focal points each year is the baking and canning competitions. Case after case of scrumptious pies, breads, cookies, jellies, pickles, and tomatoes (to name a few) entice Fair-goers. The bread, cake, and canned products in this poster are no exception, and the colorful ribbons indicate they are the best of the best.
If food doesn't bring out your competitive spirit, there are other creative activities such as garment making, hand crafts, and needlecraft. This young woman has put together an impressive quilt - even her cat loves it!
Apart from Minnesota's agricultural heritage, there were other exciting attractions that were witnessed at some of the earlier State Fairs. Renowned pacer horse Dan Patch ran at the Minnesota State Fair (setting a world harness racing record in the process), and posters publicizing the Fair would be remiss if they didn't publicize these popular races.
What would a trip to the State Fair be without a "thrilling battle in the air?" Since the State Fair was the site of the first plane flight in Minnesota in 1910, audiences clamored for the stunts and spectacles of air shows. This poster downplays the more exhilarating aspects of the air shows, but the crowds still packed the stands. The Minnesota State Fair has evolved over the decades, but with yearly attendance regularly topping 1.7 million, the events, competitions, and shows keeping bringing visitors back.
- See more images from the Minnesota State Fair in Collections Online.
- Watch short video on daredevil activities from past Minnesota State Fairs in Spectacular Fair.
- Visit the Collections Up Close blog.