Tricounty News

DNR's State Fair building celebrates 75th anniversary



Visitors invited to stock up on memories at this year's DNR exhibit

Since 1934, an enormous log building has been the centerpiece of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) State Fair exhibit. It serves as a landmark, a meeting place and a must-visit educational and entertainment destination where generations of fairgoers have created life-long memories.

The historic structure celebrates its 75th anniversary during this year's State Fair, which runs Aug. 27-Sept. 7 in Falcon Heights.

"More than one-half million people visit our State Fair exhibit each year. For many people, the DNR building is a must stop," noted Laurie Martinson, the DNR's deputy commissioner. "It's an effective and entertaining way for us to communicate conservation messages to Minnesotans."

State Fair favorites

Displays inside the main DNR building cover a wide range of natural resource topics, including watersheds, aquatic invasive species, rocks and minerals, state lands, forests, trails and parks.

The DNR outdoor fish pond and indoor fish tanks give visitors a chance learn about the different fish that call Minnesota home. This year's exhibit displays nearly 50 fish species.

The DNR fire tower will be open once again for people interested in climbing the 84 steps to get a bird's-eye view of the State Fairgrounds. The tower is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, weather permitting.

Another popular stop is a display offering property owners tips on how to keep their homes and cabins safe from wildfires.

Smokey Bear is celebrating 65 years of reminding children and their parents about the dangers of wildfires. In conjunction with the governor's 11th annual Fire Prevention Day Friday, Aug. 28, the DNR Forestry Division will host a variety of special activities and events. Smokey Bear makes daily appearances at DNR Park at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

The DNR Minerals Division will feature a DVD on meteorites, Lake Superior agates and volcanoes.

Inside the "DNR Wildlife ... forever Wing," fairgoers can learn about Minnesota species and wildlife habitat. Special sound and lighting effects help create an experience of moving from day to night and through the four seasons, as visitors walk through the display.

At the Information Center on the north side of the building, visitors can pick up free materials such as hunting and trapping regulations, and state parks, trails and recreation guides. DNR staff will be available to answer questions from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

The DNR Nature Store carries a wide range of merchandise, including gift items, clothing, jewelry, educational toys, games, posters, calendars and books. Most items are designed for outdoor enthusiasts and many are available for sale only during the State Fair. The Nature Store also sells hunting and fishing licenses, state park permits and the complete line of Public Recreation Information Maps. Proceeds from the sale of merchandise help fund communication and education efforts at the State Fair.

"The DNR building and surrounding park area is a Minnesota State Fair tradition that is often the first stop for many families," explained Adele Smith, who coordinates the DNR exhibit. "Our exhibit showcases what Minnesota is all about. People are passionate about our natural resources."

Entertainment line-up

A full program of educational and wildlife presentations, along with music and theatrical performances are scheduled for the DNR outdoor and garden stages and the fish pond area.

A variety of groups will offer demonstrations on the DNR volunteer outdoor stage and the garden stage (on the west side of the building), including the DNR's MinnAqua Program; DNR Parks and Trails will have presentations promoting horseback riding, bicycling, hiking, canoeing and

kayaking and geocaching 101; Church Basement Ladies 2 from the Plymouth Playhouse Midwest Fly Fishing Magazine; the Muskie Frontier; the Minnesota Bass Federation; the Minnesota Federation of Field Trial Clubs (pointing dogs); the Minnesota Duck and Goose Callers; and the University of Minnesota Raptor Center. Last Chance Forever - The Bird of Prey Conservancy of San Antonio, Texas, will offer flying bird shows most days during the State Fair.

Musical acts include the Brass Kings; Clearwater, Pete Neuman and the Real Deal; Red Rock Swing Band; Standing Room Only Dance Band; The Roxxy Hall Band; Joe Meyer Band; Bitter Ridge Bend in the River Band; Singleton Street Bluegrass; and Ecuador Manta.

For the DNR State Fair schedule, visit
What's new?

• Archery range in DNR indoor theater.

• Video of Minnesota fire towers.

• DNR Adopt-a-River Found-objects sculpture.

• A 24-foot by 12-foot state park camper cabin.

• Horseback riding exhibit.

• Antique Model T fire truck from 1919 on display near the Wildfire Building/Fire Tower.

DNR State Fair building statistics

• The DNR State Fair building opened Sept. 1, 1934.

• It cost $73,000 to build (almost 10 times the net profit of 1934 State Fair).

• Gate tickets in 1934 cost 25 cents

• Funding came from federal and state emergency relief administration and State Fair funds.

• Civilian Conservation Corps erected building in less than six months using machined logs.

• The main building is 186 feet by 66 feet.

• DNR's State Fair building is 40 feet high at its highest point.

• The fire tower opened in 1966, was closed in 1978, then repaired and reopened in 2007.

• The fish pond and animal displays were added in 1970.