Reporting Rachel Slavik
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — At the Minnesota State Fair, Heritage Square has a tradition of old fashioned themes and history, but this year the emphasis is on its future. Organizers are considering a major renovation in that area of the grounds next year.
Right now, the venue houses nearly 60 vendors, many of whom are in buildings that are 50 years old and need repair. The proposal will allow for building upgrades and bring more fair traffic to the area.
Tucked away in the northwest quadrant of the fair, Frank Rush’s family has served fair goers for the last 43 years inside Heritage Square.
“I’ve been working here my whole life. I always look forward to it,” Rush said.
Rush’s Ice Cream Parlor brings in customers with its homemade shakes and floats, but the demand isn’t as high here as other areas of the fair.
“Not as crowded, definitely more laid back,” said Rush.
However, under a new proposal, that laid back feel could soon change.
The State Fair has plans to build a transportation hub right next to Heritage Square. The new drop off site has the potential to make the venue one of the busier spots on the fairgrounds once construction is complete.
“The whole topography of the area will change,” Brienna Schuette, of the MN State Fair, said.
The proposal also includes razing the vendor booths with a plan to build an entirely new complex..
“We’re not tearing it down, but essentially the project will be similar to what we did with the international bazaar in 2008,” Schuette said.
While most vendors will return, there are those whose future is uncertain.
“This building will not be here next year,” Michelle Leonard, of the Minnesota Newspaper Museum, said.
The new proposal doesn’t include the Minnesota Newspaper Museum. Organizers are working with the fair to find a new location on the grounds.
“They’re willing to work with us and we’re establishing a task force to see what our options are next year,” Leonard said.
The Minnesota State Fair Board is expected to vote on the proposal by Labor Day. If they approve the plan, the renovations will be ready for the 2014 State Fair.