MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Over the past 12 days, more than 1.4 million people have taken in the shows, rides and, of course, the food at the Minnesota State Fair
As soon as the festivities come to an end, the vendors start packing up and heading home. But what happens to all the excess supplies after the fair is over?
Only at the state fair are vegetables so appealing.
But come 9 p.m. and award-winning produce meets a disappointing end.
“After about 8:30, 9 we’ll start throwing things away,” said Phil Klint, superintendent of vegetables and potatoes at the fair.
Food safety forces the fair to toss the harvest, yet the giant pumpkin growers get a shot to reproduce their reward.
“We’re going to come in, cut it open and harvest the seeds, because they’re still viable to be used to grown pumpkins next year,” Klint said.
The same can’t be said for the grain seeds that had success. After the year when contestants brought back their winning samples, the judges found a better option.
“A farmer takes the grain and it’s used for feed,” Ron Kelsey, the fair’s farm crops superintendent, said.
Then there is the seed art.
“Individuals come by here and say, ‘I buy seed art every year,'” Kelsey said.
And what about the food?
Vendors like Minneapple Pie have ties to the restaurant industry and just roll leftovers into the kitchen, but other vendors don’t have that option.
Ball Park Cafe’s 300 pounds of leftovers will go to Second Harvest Heartland.
“They’ll take anything that’s not opened,” said Dave Theisen of Ball Park Cafe..
And that mini-donut beer — leftovers can be found at Lift Bridge Brewery.
“The people who don’t go to the fair have literally been demanding it for two years,” Theisen said.
For the stars of the Butterfly House, there’s life beyond Minnesota.
“They’re gathered up, put in cages and sent to the next exhibit,” David Bohlken said.
It’s a process involving food and a single light.
“It only takes about 45 minutes,” Bohlken said. “People think it takes a long time, but butterflies are pretty easy to handle.”
Even though many of the award-winning baked goods and produce are thrown out, the participants do walk home with cash prizes.