Here are some other cherished fair favorites, with back stories provided by State Fair archivist Keri Huber.
Ye Old Mill
Built in 1913, Ye Old Mill is the oldest surviving ride concession. “Maybe inspired by Venice and its canals, it’s a very romantic, quiet ride that people go back to year after year,” Huber said. “With all the noise on the Fairgrounds, you can go into this little secret place.”
Fine arts building
opened in 1911 as an annex in the Women’s Building (now Creative Activities). Initially it featured art loaned from galleries all over the world, including works by Picasso, O’Keefe and Rubens. The Minnesota Institute of Arts and the Walker Art Center donated works in the 1940s and ‘50s. In 1980, it moved to its current location in what used to be the Dairy Building. Eventually, the project shifted its focus from expensive international exhibits to showcasing the work of Minnesota artists.
The current concrete-and-brick version was built in 1909, replacing a wooden structure dating back to the late 1899s. “They said it was the building that Dan Patch built,” Huber said. Dan Patch was a renowned racehorse who broke world speed records in the early 1900s, including the fastest mile by a harness horse (one minute, 55 seconds), a record that stood unbroken for 32 years. So many people flocked to see him race that the wooden building was feared unsound — audience members had to applaud one section at a time to avoid collapse. In later years, the Grandstand staged Minnesota’s first airplane flight in 1910, wingwalkers and other thrill shows, auto races, political speeches and eventually famous entertainers.
were popular long before the annual event that’s most famous these days: the carving of the head of Princess Kay of the Milky Way from an 85- to 90-pound block (and traditionally used afterward as topping at a corn roast), which began in the 1950s. The craft became popular about 50 years earlier, in a period when states used them to show off the quality of butter produced by their local cows. “In 1901 a model of the new state capitol, nearly 12 feet long, 5 feet high and 7 feet deep attracted the most attention from all the Minnesota exhibits at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, NY. Because of this, butter sculpting grew in popularity and in the same year, Minnesota was called ‘The Bread and Butter State,’” Huber said. Notable butter sculptures included a numerous large renditions of children and cows, and, in 1910, a life-size, full-body Teddy Roosevelt.
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