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Aug. 26 – Labor Day, Sept. 6, 2021

334 Days 2 Hours 18 Mins

History: Timeline

1850-1859

  • 1854: Minnesota Territorial Agricultural Society founded (governing body of the fair)
  • 1855: First territorial fair, held in Minneapolis
  • 1857: Territorial fair moves to St. Paul
  • 1858: Minnesota admitted to the Union (no fair due to lack of funds)
  • 1859: First State Fair, held in Minneapolis

1860-1869

  • 1860: State Fair held at Fort Snelling

  • 1861: No fair – Civil War
  • 1862: No fair – Civil War, U.S.-Dakota War of 1862
  • 1863: State Fair held at Fort Snelling
  • 1864: State Fair held at Redwing
  • 1865: State Fair held in Minneapolis
  • 1866-1867: State Fair held in Rochester
  • 1868: State Fair held in Minneapolis
  • 1869: State Fair held in Rochester

1870-1879

  • 1870: State Fair held in Winona
  • 1871-1876: State Fair held in St. Paul
  • 1877: State Fair held in Minneapolis
  • 1878-1879: State Fair held in St. Paul

1880-1889

  • 1880-1882: State Fair held in Rochester
  • 1883-1884: State Fair held in Owatonna
  • 1885: First year at present fairgrounds, at the time it was known as the city of Hamline, in Rose Township ★ Wooden Grandstand, Main Building (Agriculture), and numerous stock barns built ★ Fair runs for six days

1890-1899

  • 1893: No fair – World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago
  • 1897: Hamline Church Dining Hall opens – longest-running food concession at the fair
  • 1899: First evening Grandstand show, “The Burning of Manila” fireworks presentation ★ First year of electricity at the fair, which allowed it to operate after sunset

1900-1909

  • 1901: U.S. Vice President Theodore Roosevelt delivered his famous “Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick” speech at the fair
  • 1904: First carnival midway

  • 1906: Legendary pacer horse Dan Patch set the world record time of 1:55 for one mile at the Grandstand ★ James J. Hill dedicated the newly constructed Hippodrome

  • 1907: First year of auto races ★ Forty acres of land were purchased north of the fairgrounds; this became known as Machinery Hill ★ Dairy Building (now Fine Arts Center) built ★ Poultry Building (now Progress Center) built

  • 1909: Current Grandstand built

1910-1919

  • 1910: First airplane flight in Minnesota was featured at the fairgrounds

  • 1911: Fine Arts Exhibition debuted
  • 1912: Farm Boys Camp added to Machinery Hill
  • 1913: Boys and Girls Clubs (now known as 4-H) exhibit at the fair
  • 1915: Ye Old Mill debuts at the fair
  • 1916: First greenhouse built on the fairgrounds ★ Farm Girls Camp added to Machinery Hill

  • 1915: Fair extends from six days to eight

1920-1929

  • 1920: Cattle Barn constructed

  • 1922: Vice President Calvin Coolidge was heckled by an impatient Grandstand audience after speaking for 45 minutes on a 90° day. The good-natured vice president shortened his speech by several pages so the auto races could start.
  • 1927: John Phillip Sousa composed the “Minnesota March” and performed it at the fair.

1930-1939

  • 1933: First Thrill Day ★ First year of “everyone pays” gate ★ Royal American Shows contracted for the carnival midway – partnership lasts for decades ★ First fair to have four Ferris wheels in one location

  • 1934: Conservation Building (now DNR) constructed ★ Streetcar tracks shortened; Streetcar Arch welcomes guests at new entrance

  • 1936: Swine Barn constructed
  • 1937: Last year of the one-mile track. A new half-mile track for horses and auto racing was built. ★ Fair extends from eight to 10 days ★ The Works Progress Administration (WPA) completed building the Horse Barn, Poultry Barn and Grandstand Ramp.

  • 1938-1939: 4-H Building construction begins; building is available for use in 1939
  • 1939: Last year of the one-mile track. A new half-mile track for horses and auto racing was built. ★ Fair extends from eight to 10 days

1940-1949

  • 1940: 4-H Building completed

  • 1942: Auto races suspended because of World War II gasoline rationing
  • 1943: Livestock buildings and 50 acres surrounding them were taken over by the government for an airplane propeller plant. Livestock, horse and poultry shows were suspended.

  • 1944: Original wooden-domed Main Building (Agriculture) burned down

  • 1945: No fair – World War II
  • 1946: No fair – Polio epidemic ★ Livestock buildings reconverted for pre-war use ★ Hippodrome no longer structurally sound and razed
  • 1947: Livestock and poultry shows reinstated ★ Only draft horses were exhibited at the fair; judging held outside of the Horse Barn
    ★ The Pronto Pup made its debut, the first food on-a-stick

  • 1948: Future Farmers of America (FFA) starts exhibiting livestock at the fair.
  • 1949: Last year of horse races at the fair. The focus shifted to automobile racing.

1950-1959

  • 1951: New Hippodrome (now the Lee & Rose Warner Coliseum) replaced the original built in 1906 and razed in 1946. ★ Horse shows reinstated

  • 1954: First statewide Princess Kay of the Milky Way contest
  • 1955: The State Fair passed the 1 million mark in attendance for the first time.
  • 1956: FFA Children’s Barnyard debuts (precursor to Miracle of Birth Center)

1960-1969

  • 1962: First “big-name” night shows were staged, starring Dennis Day, Jane Russell and Jimmy Dean.
  • 1964: Skyride built ★ Teen-Age Fair (Young America Center) built. West End Market is now in its place.

  • 1965: Space Tower built ★ First year Princess Kay and her court carved in butter
  • 1966: Fairchild debuted as the State Fair mascot

1970-1979

  • 1970: Mexican Village opens, featuring wares, food and entertainment

  • 1971: Bandshell constructed, becoming the largest free stage at the fair ★ Conservation building renamed to DNR; fish ponds added to the DNR Park

  • 1972: Fair extends from 10 to 11 days
  • 1975: Fair extends from 11 to Twelve Days of Fun Ending Labor Day ★ Heritage Square opens (replaces former Teen Fair)

  • 1976: Heritage Square expands and adds the Minnesota State Fair Museum

1980-1989

  • 1980: Fine Arts Exhibition moved from the Grandstand’s third floor into the newly renovated Fine Arts Center, one of the two oldest State Fair buildings
  • 1983: Fairborne debuts as the State Fair’s second mascot

  • 1984: Mexican Village is renamed the Bazaar
  • 1986, 1987, 1989: Aerialist Jay Cochran walked a high wire from the top of the 4-H Building to the top of the Space Tower
  • 1988: First llama show

1990-1999

  • 1991: Visitors Plaza constructed ★ Pet Center opened
  • 1995: Carousel Park constructed (now known as Dan Patch Park) ★ Mighty Midway opens, the State Fair’s self-directed carnival ★ Kidway becomes a permanent feature at the north end ★ Old Iron Show debuts on Machinery Hill
  • 1998: The North Woods introduced on Machinery Hill

2000-2009

  • 2000: Agrilympics debuts (blend of agriculture, local celebrities and sports)
  • 2001: SkyGlider constructed ★ Adopt-A-Garden Program began
  • 2002: Minnesota State Fair Foundation established ★ Food Building renovated and new Food Building Park constructed outside the south side of the building ★ Last year of auto races ★ Grandstand bleachers razed and renovation began

  • 2003: Little Farm Hands exhibit opens
  • 2004: The Grandstand renovation project was completed and included a new Grandstand Plaza seating area, accessible entrance and exit ramps, and entertainment production facility.
  • 2006: CHS Miracle of Birth Center built ★ Coliseum renamed for Lee and Rose Warner ★ Historic greenhouse residence restored and named J.V. Bailey House, office space for the Minnesota State Fair Foundation ★ Eco Experience takes over the Progress Center

  • 2008: New International Bazaar opened
  • 2009: Moo Booth updated (located in Cattle Barn)

2010-2019

  • 2011: First Military Appreciation Day ★ First year of the State Fair History Walking tour, which is a partnership between the Minnesota State Fair Foundation and the Minnesota Historical Society
  • 2012: AgStar Arena opened (now Compeer Arena)
  • 2013: More than 4,000 Vietnam-era veterans walked in a “welcome home” parade on Military Appreciation Day.
  • 2014: West End Market, History & Heritage Center and Transit Hub opened
  • 2019: North End area created to include the North End Event Center, Minnesota Corn Fairstalk, sculptures and Minnesota Marquees

2020

  • 2020: State Fair canceled due to COVID-19 pandemic ★ First Minnesota State Fair Food Parade and online Minnesota State Fair: At-Home Edition held