MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota State Fair has a rich history that dates back more than 130 years.

And its past is laid out for all to see at the History and Heritage Center.

A picture shows President Teddy Roosevelt in 1910. It’s the same place nine years earlier that Vice President Roosevelt delivered a now-famous quote: “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”

In addition to presidential visits, the state fair is where Minnesota’s aviation industry took off.

teddy roosevelt at the minnesota state fair Presidents, Planes & Horses: A History Of The Minnesota State Fair

President Teddy Roosevelt at the 1910 Minnesota State Fair (credit: CBS)

The first flight ever in the state occurred on the fairgrounds in 1910, and eventually led to exciting airshows.

Yet the state fair’s most influential contributor is a horse by the name of Dan Patch.

His 1906 world record of running a mile in 1 minute and 55 seconds — witnessed by a crowd of 80,000 fairgoers — is still held to this day.

Minnesota was home turf for Patch, who was in national demand.

Anticipation for a return in 1909 would forever change the look of the Grandstand.

The old wooden structure was replaced with brick and concrete, which still stands today. It is a lasting reminder of the impact of a single horse.

Learn more about the Minnesota State Fair’s history at the History and Heritage Center, located in the West End. It’s open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.


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