MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — If you like Minnesota history and you like toys, there’s one attraction at the State Fair you won’t want to miss.

It’s free and it’s a bit of a hidden secret, and it’s one of the oldest exhibits dating back to 1897.

It’s the cabin run by Minnesota Territorial Pioneers — descendants of original Minnesota settlers.

Everyone is welcome at the cabin, especially kids. Gene Ewer has been making paper art for years. As children filed into the log cabin at the exhibit he demonstrated his work to WCCO.

“I make these to give away to the kids here, I make the butterflies and the alligators,” he said.

Ewer says the stegosaurus is his most complicated feat.

In 1985, his young granddaughter asked him to make her something, so he improvised. Now, his artistic talent and quick thinking are enduring the test of time.

“Here they make something and they’ve got something when they’re done,” Ewer said.

That’s what the whole idea at the Minnesota Territorial Pioneers booth — you can see the way Minnesota’s first settlers lived and how they entertained themselves from tatting designs on table cloths to using corn husks to make dolls.

In front of the cabin, day after day, Ted Lau sits with children and instructs them on how to make corn husk dolls.

“You can have fun with something very very simple,” Lau said. “You don’t have to go and buy a $100 doll.”

Lau spends day after day proving that point. Sue Brandt brought some for her grandchildren.

“It’s great to see them be creative other than watching TV, the usual things,” she said. “It gives them a different perspective on how things were in the past.”

So what’s old is new at the Pioneer Cabin, but one thing stays the same Lau explains, “All it cost is a smile, although if they want to bring me a Sweet Martha’s cookie, that’s okay too.”

The exhibit is one of the oldest at the fair. To find out about the organization, click here.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield