Reporting Natalie Nyhus
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It takes a lot of work to make the Minnesota State Fair what it is — so WCCO-TV wanted to follow along to see what a day in the life of a corn roaster is like.
“We get here 6:30 – 7:00 a.m., (and) first thing we do is turn the coffee pot on,” said corn roaster Brad Ribar.
From the time the pot starts brewing, they’ve got less than an hour to get the corn soaking, fire up the roasters, warm the butter, get out the salt and pepper and set up their ticket booths.
“By about 7:30 a.m. we start roasting the corn,” said Ribar.
It takes a lot of roasting staff to get those ears into hungry fairgoers’ mouths.
“We usually start with about a dozen — the opening crew — and that builds to about 50-55 — our full crew — during the day.”
That includes a few faces particularly familiar to Ribar.
“My daughter’s there, my son’s over here and my other daughter will be here this afternoon,” said Ribar, pointing out that the fair is a family affair. “That’s my niece, that’s my nephew. There’s all sorts of family here. It’s great.”
If you think a crew of 55 is too many, think about the number of ears the stand sells.
“For the whole fair it’s about 180,000 ears. So some days you’re at 10,000. Some days you’re at 15,000 to 18,000 ears,” said Ribar. “We do more in a day now than we did in our first year.”
The number of sales isn’t the only intense thing happening at the booth, the temperature inside is usually right around 125 degrees. Ribar said he keeps a lot of water on hand for the crew who works well into the night.
“Usually by 11:30-12:00 we’re done serving corn and that’s the time the next day’s corn shows up. So, we’re unloading corn until about 1 in the morning,” he said.
That makes an 18-hour day for each day of the fair. It’s a tough job for the corn roasters who have been making one of the fair’s most popular foods for more than 28 years.