The partnership between the Minnesota State Fair Foundation and the Minnesota State Fair has fueled more than 19 years of improvements and projects at the Minnesota State Fair.
Through the support of our Friends of the Fair, special project and program area donors, volunteers and Taste of the Fair guests, grants from the Foundation to the State Fair have funded projects and programs across the fairgrounds and all five of our priority areas!
Minnesota State Fair Foundation Milestones and Impact
2001 – By-Laws and Articles of Incorporation written.
2002 – First Board of Directors elected at the 2002 annual meeting & start-up funds from the State Fair and the “First 100”
2003 – Grants of $260,000. Introduced recognition paver program- currently over 5,000 personalized bricks on the fairgrounds
2004 – Grants of $106,000. Started Friends of the Fair memberships, inaugural Taste of the Fair fundraiser, volunteers began selling commemorative art
2005 – Grants of $84,000. Improved Agriculture Horticulture Building and 4-H towers, donors supported fairgrounds reforesting and added recognition benches
2006 – Grants of $1,511,000. Restored J.V. Bailey House, helped fund CHS Miracle of Birth Center, named Lee & Rose Warner Coliseum with funds for ongoing improvements.
2007 – Grants of $538,000. Introduced History Walking Tour, formed partnerships for State Fair merchandise and sold a new State Fair history book.
2008 – Grants of $412,000. Supported development of State Fair Archives, hosted 500 guests at Taste of the Fair and ended the year with a favorable operating net.
2009 – Grants of $1,015,000. Sold Blue Ribbon Bargain books and donors supported Moo Booth educational exhibit & historic Grandstand Marquee preservation.
2010 – Grants of $353,000. Donors funded Alphabet Forest literacy project & started vine planting on State Fair fence lines.
2011 – Grants of $561,000. Established the first State Fair Endowment with Foundation Board contributions and helped fund Giant Sing Along public art project
2012 – Grants of $1,022,000. Helped fund Compeer (formerly AgStar) Arena & other projects in agriculture, art, education, environment and history & heritage.
2013 – Grants of $535,000. Introduced Arts A’Fair featuring performing artists from across Minnesota, and launched the History & Heritage Campaign.
2014 – Grants of 2,350,000. Records set for grants to the fair, recognition benches, and Taste of the Fair. Naming rights: Schilling Amphitheater, galleries in the History & Heritage Center and KSTP Heritage Plaza.
2015 – Grants of $1,460,000. Completed $4 million History & Heritage Campaign and supported educational programs including the launch of Math On-A-Stick. Started Grand Champion recognition with a Challenge grant.
2016 – Grants of $1,073,000. Helped fund a variety of projects and for the third year in a row grants exceeded one million dollars.
2017 – Grants of $998,487. Started raising funds for the Swine Barn Improvement Project.
2018 – Grants of $1,464,581. Cambria Kitchen built, funds granted to begin improvements on the Swine Barn (now named Robert A. Christensen Pavilion)
2019 – Grants of $1,001,250. North End Development including the MN Corn Fairstalk gift, continued improvements to the Robert A. Christensen Pavilion.
2020 – Grants of $811,200. For the first time in over 60 years and only sixth time in its history, the Minnesota State Fair was canceled. Foundation grants supported a variety of projects including general support for overall preservation and maintenance of the fairgrounds.
Minnesota State Fair History
Preserving State Fair History
From school projects to family historians, we know there is great interest in learning about the people and events that are a part of State Fair history. Through contributions to the Foundation, photos and records are being cataloged and preserved in an effort to make them accessible to the public year-round. Here are some links and resources for State Fair history:
Minnesota State Fair Digital Archives
Minnesota State Fair History (Minnesota State Fair)
Search for Minnesota State Fair photographs, images, books and documents (Minnesota Historical Society)
Search for Minnesota State Fair photographs and images (Minnesota Digital Library)
History on the Fairgrounds
History Walking Tour
Presented in partnership with the Minnesota Historical Society, the History Walking Tour is a great way to learn about State Fair favorites while exploring all corners of the grounds on this self-guided tour.
History & Heritage Center
2014 marked the grand opening of the West End Market – the largest redevelopment of the fairgrounds since the 1930s. The new State Fair History & Heritage Center is the featured education attraction of the West End Market. The State Fair and the Minnesota Historical Society have developed an engaging exhibition that brings the history of the fair to life for visitors of all ages.
To help fund the new museum and several other components of the West End Market, the Foundation launched a multi-million fundraising campaign in late 2013. As of the end of our campaign in June 2015, we are pleased to report that generous donors contributed more than $4 million!
We invite you to join us in celebrating the State Fair’s history by visiting the Minnesota State Fair History & Heritage Center in West End Market and participating in the History Walking Tour during the fair!