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Sarah Roy of Maplewood holds up her 1-year-old son, Mikey Roy, to the misters on a hot day at the Minnesota State Fair August 24, 2013.

Courtney Perry, Dml - Courtney Perry

Sarah Roy of Maplewood held her 1-year-old son, Mikey, up to the misters on Saturday at the fairgrounds. This year could be the hottest State Fair since 1948. Extra medical personnel and ambulances will be on hand as the temperature spikes.

Courtney Perry • Special to the Star Tribune,

State Fairgoers keep cool as heat wave approaches

  • Article by: Kelly Smith
  • Star Tribune
  • August 24, 2013 - 11:40 PM

It won’t be just the deep-fried onion rings and cheese curds sizzling as the Minnesota State Fair heads into a possible record-breaking heat wave.

A heat advisory goes into effect Sunday through Wednesday, ushering in temps and sweltering dew points that will make it feel 100 degrees and hotter.

That could make this the hottest State Fair since 1948 — the last time there was a four-day streak of temperatures higher than 94 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

“It’s going to be rough,” said Kristy Kegley, a lemonade stand manager who hired extra staff in anticipation of the heat wave drawing long lines.

Fair organizers have prepared by setting up large fans misting water at the two medical aid areas that fairgoers of all ages flocked to in Saturday’s 90-degree heat. Extra medical responders and ambulances from Regions Hospital are also on site in anticipation of a spike in heat-related medical incidents.

Annual fairgoers like Natalie Woods Grosfield of Bemidji didn’t let the sticky heat affect her trip.

“We know it’s hot, but what the heck — it’s better than rain,” she said as she splashed water on her 4-year-old granddaughter.

At the CHS Miracle of Birth Center, large fans cooled the animals and the crowds cooing over 2-day-old piglets. Mary Olson, co-chair of the center, said they’re sprinkling water on the cows and pigs and putting extra fans out to keep them cool during the heat wave.

“We’re very concerned about heat in this barn,” she said.

Escape the heat

There are only a few spots at the fair with air-conditioning.

The only public fair building with AC is the concourse at the Coliseum, but you can also pay to go inside the Luminarium if you’re looking for an air-conditioned attraction. There are also three private booths — Home Depot, Blue Flame Gas and Crossroads Chapel — with AC. Fair spokeswoman Brienna Schuette said they also encourage fairgoers to bring water bottles to fill up at the fair’s 40 water fountain locations, or coolers of pop and water.

Lisa Swenson of White Bear Lake’s secret to staying cool every year is lunch. That’s when she and her family eat at O’Gara’s Bar and Grill under the water misters that outline the building.

“We just plan on it being hot and sticky,” she said over lunch with her husband and two kids.

Owner Dan O’Gara said the $10,000 he spent on the misters was worthwhile, helping attract customers walking down the street “like a magnet.”

No reprieve this year

Indiana food vendor Cheryl Reas travels to fairs across the country, and always looks forward to the Minnesota State Fair for a reprieve from the heat.

But on Saturday she struggled to keep cool next to grills of turkey legs steaming in the sticky humidity and braced for the hottest State Fair she’s seen in 25 years.

“Normally, this is the one we look forward to because it’s cool,” she said.

Reas resorted to old-fashioned fans, buying $500 worth of extra fans this week to help keep her workers cool.

On a day like Saturday, Reas said it can feel like up to 120 degrees standing next to the hot smoke of hundreds of turkey legs grilling.

“It’s hot even when it’s not a heat wave,” she said. “Thank goodness we have a snow cone [booth] next to us.”

Kelly Smith • 612-673-4141 Twitter: @kellystrib

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