Go on a private tour of the Minnesota State Fair’s Creative Activities Building

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Every year, 6,000 entries make their way into the Creative Activities Building at the Minnesota State Fair. From wheat bread making to garments, the division covers a lot of work done by Minnesotans.

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Creative Activities Superintendent Curt Pederson has been involved with the State Fair for 43 years. I had the honor of walking through the Creative Activities Building with him.

Creative Activities got it start in 1895, although it hasn’t always gone by that name. Curt tells me that Fairgoers in the early 1900s would dress up to attend the State Fair, a far cry from how we dress for the State Fair today.

Quilts have been a part of Creative Activities since the beginning. Years ago, people would gasp when someone would submit a quilt made by a sewing machine. Now, you might hear more gasps when you see a hand-stitched quilt.

Pederson tells me weaving is another popular division that stays popular.

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One division that is on the rise: painting porcelain. There aren’t an abundance of entries — they’re only in one cabinet — but Curt says he’s surprised by the number of people who enter.

As for divisions that are on the decline, the number of Minnesotans sewing garments is down significantly. Curt pointed out that since sewing isn’t taught in schools as much anymore, less people know how to sew.

Another division that is down is scrapbooking. Curt isn’t quite sure why.

Creative Activities oversees the pies, breads, cakes and canned items Minnesotans submit, too. Curt says the breads are the hardest category to judge. Get this: the judges rarely will taste the bread. Most of the judging is done by smell or touch.

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Canning is another very competitive division. It’s extremely scientific and one alternation can make a world of difference.

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When you’re near the baked goods, check out the Heirloom Recipe Contest display. The recipes entered in that division must be from before 1950 and be from a family member of the person entering. Curt tells me many recipes pre-1950 are simple because they have less than six ingredients.

In the back of the building, make sure you visit the work submitted by Minnesota’s senior citizens, many of which are extremely cool.

Inside the Creative Activities Building, you’ll also find the Cambria Kitchen, which has cooking demonstrations throughout the Fair from blue ribbon winners.

The Creative Activities categories are open to residents of Minnesota. You must be an amateur to enter, which is why you will not see items from blue ribbon baker Marjorie Johnson in this building. She has a baking cookbook, so she is considered a professional baker.

The Creative Activities Building is at Cosgrove and Dan Patch, right next to the main entrance to the Fairgrounds. It’s open from 9 am to 9 pm. Click here to learn about the categories.

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