FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. – We’re all looking ahead to the Minnesota State Fair this week, but we’ve also decided to look back.
Hours spent digging 30 years back into the WCCO archives provide a singular, nostalgic look at the 1993 Great Minnesota Get-Together.
MINNESOTA STATE SCHOLARSHIP:
As now, the State Fair has always been about food first. In 1993, the trendy new dish was fried green tomatoes.
A seller of the snack said, “This year we found a product that no one else had. The fair was really excited about it because it was so different. And it really generated a lot of popularity.”
A WCCO reporter discovered that another new food was shrimp and pineapple on a stick. And Pronto Pups were also popular back then.
There have always been people who had to go through the gate first. WCCO featured Debbi and Jim Baxter, parents of three children, who were one of the first families five years in a row.
“It’s not that busy, so you can walk around and see a lot of things without maybe having to wait in a long line,” Debbi Baxter said at the time.
Jim Baxter added, “It’s really the only healthy time of day.”
Thirty years later, the Baxters don’t get to the fair that early, but they’re still in time for breakfast.
“She wanted to get there early, like the first one. I didn’t so much,” Jim Baxter told us.
Since then, the couple has not missed a fair.
“We hope to be there on the first day this year and then we will go a second time with our children and grandchildren,” said Debbi Baxter.
The crowds and long lines have also gone nowhere.
“Too long. The lines are too long,” one man told WCCO in 1993. “I have to wait all day before I can get a ride.”
Dave Huddleston had just joined WCCO in 1993. He reported on the State Fair that year, and when we showed him some clips, he said he looked like he was twelve.
Huddleston has nothing but fond memories of the fair, and he even came back to visit with his family from their home in Georgia in 2019.
“I’ve never really paid much attention to a state grant and when I come here I think, ‘What’s up with this grant?'” Huddleston said. “And then you actually go to the fair and it’s by far one of the best events, family events. Our kids grew up with the fair. We went several times every year.”
The 1993 fair featured a host of celebrities: Dolly Parton and Jeff Dunham performed.
What really shows how long it was thirty years ago is what turned up in the lost and found. A WCCO story featured large cameras, pagers and ATMs. The reporter says, “Seeing strangers return other people’s treasures convinces Janet [the lost and found operator] Minnesotans are mostly honest.”
One man certainly got honest in front of a WCCO camera and said he would wait as long as it takes for unhealthy junk food. So yeah, not much has changed.