"Five best days of summer" kick start Wednesday on the Iron Range

The St. Louis County Fair (NORTH!) runs Wednesday through Sunday at the fairgrounds in Chisholm, across Highway 169 from the city, next to the Minnesota Discovery Center (nee Ironworld). Just follow the giant chicken.

Dubbed “The five greatest days of summer” by fair organizers, this is another of those classic Iron Range summer events where you see everyone you know and a bunch of people you don’t know but that you now realize live in or near your town. It’s like a census, with a beer garden and rides. As mentioned, this is the “northern” St. Louis County Fair. There is a southern St. Louis County Fair for that rabble down near Proctor. Indeed fair season is upon us with my home county of Itasca holding their fair later in August.

I have a lot of memories of the St. Louis County Fair from when I was a kid. It used to be in Hibbing next to the community college where I now work. Crazy, that. And of course any time spent learning the political ropes of the Range involves a few shifts at the fair arguing with the disgruntled retirees.

I just had a flash memory of one time working a booth at the fair — not sure if it was work or politics then, it all blends together. There was a somewhat heavy-set but otherwise normal looking young woman spending her first summer working for traveling carnival outfit that provides the rides and games. She was buying some kind of food at one of the kiosks and someone asked her where she was from. She said some town in Wisconsin, I think, and they asked “Why are you here?” She replied in three short sentences. “Work. I’m a carnie. (laughs, pauses). Carnie trash.” And everyone around her just sort of left it at that. In the progression of her words you could literally watch her face go from dispassionate distance from her workaday job into begrudging acceptance of something far darker.

You are not carnie trash, young lady.

Oh, and fair management is asking “for immediate information regarding the sale of intoxicating liquors or any questionable or demoralizing activity.” Further, “Do not wait until the Fair is over to make complaints-report immediately.” Also, the Budweiser Clydesdales will be on hand, er, hoof throughout the fair. Believe me, this thing can be as literary as you want it to be.


  1. And don’t forget Aaron, that long before your day the fairgrounds were way out past North Hibbing in what is now “the pit.” There was a track with horse racing and everything. Gotta love the poetry of the fair coming back to mine lands in the new century, eh?

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