By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s the eve of 12-straight days of State Fair fun.

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For Minnesota State Fair vendors, it’s 12 days of 12-hour plus work.

For places like The Lunchbox, it’s actually 19 straight days. They open a week early for the early birds that come in to set up.

“For lunch we have hot dogs, burgers — grilled ham and cheese is one of our great sandwiches here,” Mandie Arrington said. “We’ve got it all.”

The night-before-Christmas feeling is also taking place for some.

“I feel like a little kid who can’t sleep,” Fair spokesperson Brienna Schuette said. “At this point, we just want it to get here.”

More than 10 months of planning by organizers is about to give way to mini-donuts and Pronto Pups.

Opening day looks good, weather-wise. Even if it’s not, it won’t affect the annual 4-H musical. The group puts on 40 shows over the course of 12 days. The 4-H crowd also arrived early to rehearse.

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“From the eighth to the 15th we learned everything from the choreography, to the script, to building a set here,” said Josiah White of Hugo.

Then there’s last minute touch-ups on Midway rides.

“It’s pretty satisfying when you get to the end and everything comes together, and you see the kids having fun getting on and off the rides,” Jeff Brady said, adding that it takes about three days to put the rides together.

Show calves are also getting some 11th-hour work done.

“We’re cleaning him out so we can clean him out even more tomorrow for the show,” said Kennedy
Cummings of Brewster.

She will show her 5-month-old calf Carmello during the first day of the State Fair.

The State Fair predicts anywhere from 1.7 to 1.8 million people will be in attendance this year.

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The record was set in 2009, when nearly 1.8 million people showed up, attributing the record attendance to the tough economy that year as more people were taking staycations.

John Lauritsen