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Good Question: Why Is The Minn. State Fair 12 Days?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- With so many beautiful days out at the Minnesota State Fair this year, some WCCO viewers hoped The Great Minnesota Get-Together would last a little longer.

Michele from Coon Rapids and Jackie from Shoreview want to know why it lasts 12 days.

"The biggest thing is that, of course, the fair's roots are in agriculture and the education of youth, so the 4-H and FFA programs still play a huge part in what we're all about at the State Fair," said Fair spokesperson Brienna Schuette.

The fair ends on Labor Day, the day before most children in Minnesota head back to school. It starts 12 days earlier partly so it doesn't coincide with the county fairs.

Minnesota State Fair
(credit: CBS)

"Because of the 4-H and FFA calendars, those kids all compete at the county-fair level, and so we need to wait until those county fairs finish up," Schuette said.

Then there are the vendors -- games, rides, food, exhibitors -- who travel to other state fairs. They must fit into an intricate puzzle of fair scheduling across the country.

"A lot of the rides on our midway come from the Wisconsin State Fair," Schuette said. "They play our fair for the 12 days and then they go off to the state fair of Texas or some other fairs out west."

The fair only lasted six days when it first moved to its permanent home at the State Fairgrounds in 1885.

It was eight days from 1919 to 1938, ten days from 1939 to 1971 and 11 days from 1972 to 1974. It has been 12-days long since 1975.

Many state fairs -- including Ohio, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Oregon, Colorado, Iowa and North Carolina -- last 11 days. California and Indiana last 17 days, while Texas and Arizona last 24 days.

"Of course, everyone wants the fair to last forever, but the other part of it is that it's sort of what's special about the State Fair -- this end-of-summer tradition," Schuette said.

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