MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota State Fair’s 2019 Commemorative Art was unveiled on Thursday, and for the first time, the Minnesota State Fair chose a photographer as the State Fair’s 2019 Official Commemorative Artist.

Minneapolis photographer and artist R. J. Kern presented his winning photograph publicly for the first time on Thursday.

Kern’s photograph inspiration and interpretation of the Great Minnesota Get-Together reflects animals being chosen as “Supreme Champions.”

Kern said his work pays homage to the legacy of finding the best of the best animal at the State Fair. He highlights the spirit of competition and champion livestock.

“I love seeing the spirit of competition alive and well today, as demonstrated through the hard work, pride and passion of the exhibitors at the Minnesota State Fair,” Kern said. “I created portraits of the top male and female open-class exhibition winners in the goat, swine, poultry, sheep, llama, rabbit, beef cattle, draft horse and stock dog categories. Moments after being awarded the title ‘Supreme Champion’ in 2018, the animals were escorted to my photography studio on the fairgrounds (with safety as a top priority, of course). After the 12 days of fun, I composited the portraits together to create the final print. Hidden in the artwork is a little surprise inspired by my children, ages 2 and 3, who love to ‘horse around’.”

Kern’s work has been exhibited at notable exhibitions around the world and also presented in a number of publications like National Geographic.

Copies of the winning Commemorative photograph will be in limited numbers of signed prints and other merchandises. Prints will be available for purchase at mnstatefair.org, and during the fair at State Fair Wear Gift Shops and Bargain Book and State Fair Poster Carts on the fairgrounds.