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New Vendors, Foods & Sword Swallowers To Attract New Fair-Goers

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(credit: CBS) Rachel Slavik
Rachel Slavik joined the WCCO team in October of 2010 and is thrill...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – We are just two weeks away from the Great Minnesota Get-Together. For 12 days, hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans will descend on the Minnesota State Fair grounds.

For David Bohlken – the owner of The Butterfly House – Thursday is the unofficial start of the Minnesota State Fair.

“This is it,” he said. “Today’s the day for us. Today we start, the butterflies come in from Costa Rica.”

As the longtime owner of the Butterfly House, Bohlken’s preparation for more than a million visitors becomes somewhat of a routine.

“A little bit of work, but it’s coming up fast,” he said.

There’s the unpacking and the painting, but this year brings more work than ever before. After 17 years, the fair veteran is adding a gift shop and caterpillar exhibit to his attraction.

“They can come in, look at caterpillars, learn more about butterflies,” Bohlken said.

The new exhibit is one of nearly 100 items which will be featured for the first time at the fair.

“We really walk a high wire act, if you will, at the State Fair between what’s new and what’s traditional,” said Brienna Schuette, of the Minnesota State Fair.

This year the balance leans towards the new: 40 new shops and vendors, 40 first time foods and 12 new attractions. Some of the new attractions include an interactive light exhibit called the Luminarium and a new twist on an old favorite — a side show in the midway.

“It’s kind of a blast from the past,” Schuette said. “You’ll see sword swallowers, fire eaters, fire breathers.”

The hope is new attractions bring in new visitors.

The State Fair begins Aug. 23 and runs through Sept. 3.

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