Weather Forecast


Bucket list: Visit the State Fair

Seven-year-old Lucy Jacobson of St. Paul chews a "pig licker," a bacon strip dipped in dark chocolate, at the Minnesota State Fair.1 / 4
The Rosemount, Minn., marching band parades past the Agriculture Horticulture Building, one of the old favorites featured in the new walking tour brochure.2 / 4
Roger Rafferty, a retired type machinist with the Minneapolis Star Tribune, enters a story on the Linotype. Used in setting hot type, the process was invented in 1884 by a German clock maker and used in newspapers into the 1960s.3 / 4
Carlton DeWitt and Editor Michelle Leonard confer as the first printing of the Maynard News comes off the press Thursday at the Newspaper Museum on the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. When Leonard, who works at the Farmington (Minn.) Independent, stood up she had ink all down her arms. "I told you not to lean into the ink," joked DeWitt, who is from Glenwood City, Wis., and is an old hand at letterpress printing.4 / 4

FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. -- New food. New exhibits. New rides. New venues. The 2012 Minnesota State Fair has them all.

Sometimes, however, what's "new" is really quite old. There are many prime examples this year.

The first stop off the Commonwealth entrance is Heritage Square. Tucked into the northwest corner you'll find a hand-fed letterpress cranking out old and new stories a couple pages at a time.

"We have a little bit of everything," Editor Michelle Leonard said of the 25th anniversary edition being produced at the Minnesota Newspaper Foundation's Newspaper Museum.

The smell of ink, the click of the keys and sound of lead type dropping into place, the whir of the press and the creak of the floor are all part of the experience -- and a far cry from the instant news many people rely on in the Internet era.

"Everyone knows computers, but this is new to them," Leonard said as she pored over wet pages looking for errors.

"What's fun is seeing the fascination when people stop and watch," Leonard added. "This was so hands-on."

Heritage Square is stop No. 10 on the Minnesota Historical Society's walking tour of the fairgrounds. Among the other stops are the grandstand, space tower, 4-H building, SkyGlider, horse barn and Agriculture Horticulture Building.

The grandstand boasts a grand history, the walking tour claims. Crowds have seen horse races, baseball games and airplane stunt shows.

While waiting in line to purchase tickets for big-name entertainment -- Kiss and Motley Crue perform tonight; Rascal Flatts plays Thursday while Minnesota Music on-a-stick with such entertainers as the Jayhawks is on tap Friday; and the final three nights feature Journey, the Minnesota State Fair Amateur Talent Contest finals and Wiz Khalifa and Mac Miller -- consider some facts that may be new to you.

• President Theodore Roosevelt first uttered his famous phrase "speak softly and carry a big stick" at the old wooden grandstand in 1901.

• Legendary harness-racer Dan Patch set a world record of one mile in 1 minute, 55 seconds before a packed grandstand in 1906.

• The current grandstand opened in 1909 and beneath the seats are hundreds of shopping opportunities.

The new twist on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' long-standing Adopt-a-River exhibit is the 800-pound sculpture of a turtle and a bird navigating a 15-foot-tall sailboat on rough seas. "Scuttled" comprises rubbish pulled from the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers. Andrew Vomhof, a Minnesota native and 2010 graduate of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, created the sculpture.

Near the historical 4-H Building, an old vehicle is attracting new audiences. The free "Batman" exhibit includes the 1960s Batmobile and a replica of the car the crime fighter and sidekick Robin use in the more modern movies.

So sing it, Batman fans, because what's old truly can be new again at the ... na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, State Fair!

Anne Jacobson

Anne Jacobson has been editor of the Republican Eagle since December 2003. 

(651) 301-7870