Reporting Jason DeRusha
Filed underGood Question, Local, News, Seen On WCCO-TV, Syndicated Local, Watch + Listen, WCCO-TV Shows
FALCON HEIGHTS (WCCO) – We all know that the Minnesota State Fair was originally about the pig rather than the pork chop. But why does the State Fair end on Labor Day and go for 12 days?
“When the fair started Minnesota wasn’t a state and Labor Day was about 40 years off,” said Jerry Hammer, CEO of the Minnesota State Fair.
The first Minnesota Territorial Fair was in 1854. For 30 years, the fair bounced around from the Twin Cities to Owatonna to Rochester.
“I think right out of the box it was in the first Monday in September,” said Hammer.
Then, the fair was timed to the wheat and bean harvest. Now, it’s part of a complex web of county fairs and other state fairs.
“It’d be nice if you could pick a day like you’re throwing a party, but it doesn’t quite work that way,” said Hammer.
If the Minnesota State Fair started a week earlier, it would run into Iowa’s State Fair. Many ride operators and vendors would have to pick a state.
But, the fair is sensitive to the fact that more Minnesota schools are starting classes before Labor Day.
“Our experience when school starts early is not good,” said Hammer. “It just clobbers the fair.”
John in Stillwater emailed asking : Why is the fair just 12 days?
“Actually the early fairs were just a long weekend,” said Hammer.
In the 1950s, the fair was a 10-day fair, starting on Saturday and ending on Labor Day.
In 1972, they experimented with an 11-day fair starting on Friday.
The 12-day fair has been around since 1975, starting on Thursday, running through two weekends and ending on Labor Day.
Has the fair ever considered making it a 13 or 14-day run?
“It comes up in discussion like a lot of things do. But it doesn’t last very long,” said Hammer.
“If you take the same number of people and spread them over more days, it costs the fair $3 million a day to operate,” he said, making it a bust from a business perspective.