Nobody has better State Fair attendance than Ed Mosiman.
Believed to be the only person ever born on the fairgrounds during the State Fair, the 62-year-old from Avon, Minn., came into the world with a bang in 1954, just in time for the grandstand fireworks. He was born in a house on Machinery Hill, and he hasn’t missed the fair since.
Now it seems the only thing that will get in the way of Mosiman’s future trips to the fair is cancer. He was found to have terminal and inoperable lung cancer a month ago.
“They gave me four to six months, but I knew I was going to make it to the fair one last time,” he said. “I’ve made every one of them, and this year’s no different — it’s as simple as that.”
With a fair bucket list in mind, Mosiman arrived to the fairgrounds on opening day with his wife and sister. Sitting in a lawn chair in the fair’s campgrounds, and looking across to the home where he was born, he tried to process the news that this would likely be his last trip to the fair.
“I’m fricking dying,” he said. “But it’s OK. You can’t fight death.”
A true fair family
Members of the Mosiman family have lived, worked, camped or attended the fair for five generations. Ed’s grandfather was superintendent of the fairgrounds for 45 years. It’s only fitting that Ed was born at the fair; that’s where his parents met.
In those days, the superintendent lived on the fairgrounds year-round, in a colonial-style farmhouse on Machinery Hill.
Ed’s mother was visiting her parents in their fairgrounds home on Sept. 5, 1954, when she went into labor a few weeks early.
With the help of a doctor who was staying in the campgrounds, Ed arrived at 11:25 p.m. “He used his shoelace to tie off the umbilical cord,” Mosiman said.
His birth certificate, on display in the J.V. Bailey House, lists the “State Fair Grounds” as his place of birth.
After six decades at the fair, Mosiman has a lot of stories to tell. He met Cher once, hung out in actor Redd Foxx’s dressing room at the grandstand and shared Jack Daniels with Johnny Cash.
Years ago, the Ye Old Mill shut down after Mosiman’s mother and aunt poured a box of soap in the water.
One last Pronto Pup
How does a fairgoer with perfect attendance spend his likely final fair? “I’d like to have a foot-long and a Pronto Pup or two,” Mosiman said. “I want to go on Ye Old Mill with my wife and kiss her passionately when we come out. We do it every year.”
When State Fair general manager Jerry Hammer got wind of Mosiman’s illness, he called to ask how he could make Mosiman’s last fair experience extra special. The Mosiman family was treated to a VIP tour.
“Among all the fair family’s millions, Ed is a true State Fair original,” Hammer said. “We wanted to make this Ed’s best fair ever.”
On one of his last days at the fair, he visited the bench his wife, Wendy, purchased for him a few years ago. The personalized benches are moved around every year, and this time Ed’s bench was placed with a perfect view of the 156-foot-high Great Big Wheel.
“It’s bittersweet,” Wendy said, “knowing this is our last fair together.”
Even though Ed isn’t expected to make it to next year’s fair, the Mosiman family intends to maintain its strong presence. There are grandchildren to carry on the memories.
“Life and traditions change, but they go on,” Ed’s sister, Sue Mosiman, said. “I can’t imagine life without Ed, but I also can’t imagine not coming to the fair.”