Originally published August 2019, updated July 2020
Multiple people on my Facebook page asked me about the memorial benches you see around the Minnesota State Fair. They wanted to know how many there are, who gets one, and if you get to choose where they go. I asked State Fair officials how the program works.
From the 2019 State Fair, there were approximately 1,200 benches around the Fairgrounds (the Fair is canceled in 2020). Benches are organized by the Minnesota State Fair Foundation, the group responsible for the upkeep of the Fairgrounds and its buildings.
One bench costs $2,500 and the donation is fully tax-deductible. To have a bench for the 2021 Minnesota State Fair, you will need to sign up by June 1st, 2021.
Each bench can have a 14-character message on the backrest and can additionally have a plaque to commemorate the person you’re dedicating the bench to. Business logos can be on the plaques, but business names or advocacy messages cannot be on the backrest.
You get to choose the color of your bench, too: green, yellow, red or blue. The color determines what part of the Fairgrounds your bench will go. Due to popularity of the program, you cannot choose the exact location of your bench. Click here to see a map of how benches are distributed. During the Fair, fairgoers are encouraged to stop by the J.V. Bailey House to learn the exact location of a specific bench, as the benches have GPS tracking.
Benches have a five year warranty and are stored during the winter months.
In addition to the benches, the Minnesota State Fair Foundation offers bricks that go on the plaza to the east of the Grandstand for $250. They also have picnic tables which can go in one of three zones at the Fairgrounds. Those cost $5,000.
Photo credit Minnesota State Fair