MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota State Fair has more than a thousand options for food and vendor booths.

While all are hoping to turn a profit, a select few are using some of their earnings to help a greater cause.

JonnyPops has quite the following with their signature smoothies on a stick.

“It’s frozen goods, four main ingredients: fruit, cream, a little bit of salt and a little bit of sugar,” said John Schmit of JonnyPops.

Many customers also know it’s more than just a cool treat. A portion of the proceeds will go to Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation.

“Some people come up and they’re thrilled about JonnyPops before they’ve even tasted it,” Schmit said. “They love the mission. ‘Better pop for a better world.'”

It’s a memorial to owner Erik Brust’s cousin, Jonathon, who came up with the idea for the business, but passed away from a drug overdose before the dream became reality.

jonnypops The Minnesota State Fairs Booths That Give Back

JonnyPops (credit: CBS)

“We named the company in honor of him — JonnyPops,” Schmit said.

In addition to frozen smoothie pops, certain vendors also have a charitable element.

The Sharon and James booth, located in the lower level of the Grandstand, specializes in military apparel. Owner Sharon Douglas keeps her booth filled with hats, shirts and other items honoring all four branches of the military.

“Just an array of different products,” Douglas said.

Customers who buy her products are doing more than just wearing their support for the armed forces. Douglas has sent hundreds of dollars to help support troops and their families for the last three years.

“I’m selling basically military product, so therefore that makes sense to me to give back to the military,” Douglas said. “This year it’ll go to the Minnesota Military Family Foundation.”

The Midway Men’s Club is another option for charitable giving at the Great Minnesota Get-Together.

minnesota state fair beer The Minnesota State Fairs Booths That Give Back

Beer at the Midway Men’s Club’s food booth (credit: CBS)

Fairgoers line up for more than just cold beer and cheap burgers.

“It’s very important for youth activities for us to give back, for all of us to give back to youth activities and stuff,” said Steve Gorman of the Midway Men’s Club.

Proceeds from the club’s food booth have helped pay for youth sports programs — totaling a half-million dollars since 1960.

“That’s the best feeling of all, when you hand that check to these people,” Gorman said. “Then you know what you did was worth it.”

Midway Men’s Club is near the intersection of Dan Patch Avenue and Underwood Street.

JonnyPops is located in the West End Market.

Other charitable vendors include the Kiwanis Club’s malt booth, located between the Fine Arts Center and the 4-H Building, and Sara’s Tipsy Pies, located in the Food Building’s south wall.


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