MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — One of the prime State Fair destinations for shoppers and vendors is the Grandstand. It’s where some have made selling wares a lifelong event.

Billy Newcomb has been selling kitchen gadgets for 30 years at the Minnesota State Fair Grandstand. His parents started the business 51 years before that. The 12 days at the State Fair are like coming home for him, and the other vendors surrounding his stand.

“All my neighbors around me here are family for 12 days. Some of them, I’ve been next to them now for 30 years,” he said.

The first couple days of the fair are spent catching up with everyone.

“We get to know their families, we get to know their friends, and in this business, you never say goodbye, you say, ‘See you down the road.'”

The Newcomb family is getting ready to continue the legacy at the Grandstand. Billy Newcomb’s daughter, niece and nephew are already preparing to take over the business.

While some families have been selling their wares at the Minnesota State Fair for years or even decades, there are those who are just getting started.

Cindy Peterson makes and sells keepsakes for pregnant women, and until recently she hadn’t heard of the Minnesota State Fair. After meeting a fair representative at a show in Las Vegas, she applied for a spot and got one in the Grandstand.

“Oh my gosh. We were so surprised. We are very, very blessed. We got a great location,” she said. “This is the holy grail of fairs!”

Peterson has worked dozens of fairs before, but she’s never seen anything like this.

“They’re coming here to maybe not just see a concert, like you have at other fairs. They come they spend the entire day, and the weather obviously doesn’t make a difference,” she said.

While Peterson got lucky on her first try, there are scores of people who have applied for years and years and are still waiting to get an invite.


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