The night before the Minnesota State Fair opens, staffers run around and stick circular markers on the ground so the rest of us know exactly where to stand to take the perfect fair selfie.
“It’s become a tradition to go stick them down, and make sure, ‘If we set it here, what does it look like?’ said fair spokesperson Danielle Dullinger, who goes out with members of the operations team to place Official Selfie Spot stamps around the fairgrounds.
The stamps help fairgoers get into position and align different iconic views — the State Fair water tower, the grandstand, the statue of gopher mascot Fairchild, the midway and the entry sign — behind their heads.
The fair staffers try out each spot, before deciding, “Yep, if I stand here it will be perfect,” she said. “We’re out there making sure that they provide an excellent selfie.”
This year, they added a new, sixth “Selfie Spot,” by the Great Big Wheel, to the selfie map they unveiled two years ago.
Aside from the fair’s designated spots, what other locales will be the most photographed and shared over the next 12 days?
There’s a bright new graphic mural painted near the Family Fair Stage at Baldwin Park this year that shows promise as a backdrop, Dullinger said. Few can resist taking and sharing the classic photo of themselves holding up a bucket of Sweet Martha’s cookies bigger than their head. And of course, some livestock are better at photo bombing than others.
Dullinger said her money’s on goats as the animal most likely to end up in a shared fair photo.
“Goats have a ton of personality, cows have a ton of personality, chickens are hilarious. There’s something for everyone,” said Dullinger. “Goats are my favorite, just don’t tell any other animal.”
Fairgoers have tagged #mnstatefair 163,000 times and counting on Instagram, and many are amateur or professional photographers working to go far beyond the selfie to snap a photo that captures the essence of the Great Minnesota Get-Together.
“It’s such an amazing, photogenic place,” said Rita Farmer (@rita.m.farmer), a Minneapolis portrait and lifestyle photographer who co-founded a meetup group for Minnesota Instagrammers called Minnstameets.
Farmer said the shot she expects to see posted on Instagram most often this year is one that includes the Midway swing ride the Stratosphere.
“Some of my favorite things to take pictures of are the rides,” Farmer said. “Particularly at golden hour, at sunset, you get these epic shots.”
The biggest challenge is to come up with something that hasn’t been overshared already, she said.
“I think the challenge at this stage of Instagram is to find that original shot,” she said. “There are so many people taking pictures of the food, or the rides. The challenge in this day and age, anyway, is to try to be creative when there’s just so many people out there posting and shooting.”