By Reg Chapman

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) —  The countdown is on to the 2019 Minnesota State Fair.

The vendors are ready. The animals are in place. And WCCO’s Reg Chapman was there for the finishing touches.

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You know it’s close to opening day at the Minnesota State Fair when crews begin stocking the DNR’s fish pond.

More than three dozen species of fish from Minnesota Rivers and Lakes will call this place home for the next 12 days.From sunfish to sturgeons, fairgoers will enjoy getting up close and personal at one of the fair’s most popular attractions.

“You’re not going to find an assembly of fish like this. This is really unique because it’s pretty much a spattering of everything we have in the state, as much as we can collect,” DNR fishery expert Don Schrader said.

Animals are anxious to get the fair underway. Horses are ready to stare at the humans who plan to stop by the horse barn for a quick visit.

“Its felt like this for the last week and a half just busier than normal,” State Fair General Manager Jerry Hammer said.

Vendors are racing the clock to get food ready for hungry fairgoers.

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Seventeen years of working at the Minnesota State Fair makes the day before opening, old hat.

“I can do this in my sleep, preparing the hotdish, making all the food, you start dreaming about it,” Stacy Burton from Ole and Lena’s Hot Dish on a Stick said.

There’s no time for dreaming for Jim Kropp and his crew.

“It’s chaos, obviously you have to think about all the things needed,” Kropp said.

Cleaning and organizing, getting ready for long lines of people wanting mozzarella sticks, cheese curds and a frozen lemonade drink is what keeps these guys busy.

Law enforcement is busy as well, making sure the massive crowds are safe to enjoy the Minnesota State Fair.

“We have a comprehensive emergency management and security system, multiple law enforcement agencies at all levels,” Hammer said. “We have worked really hard and we’re constantly updating and improving and we want everyone to come here and have your usual great time.”

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WCCO is broadcasting live from the State Fair weekdays at noon, 5, 6 and 10 p.m.

Reg Chapman