Left: Minnesota State Fair: An Illustrated History, by Kathryn Strand Koutsky and Linda Koutsky, image ©Coffee House Press. Read below for more details.
I can hear the groans of faithful readers as they click on the blog today, “Another Minnesota State Fair post? What has happened to Roz?” Well, this is after all a blog about my enthusiasms—but I have saved the best in the “preparation series” for last (notice I didn’t say “last Fair post”!): information and inspiration.
It’s time you looked at what other people are writing and thinking about the Fair. And there is no better place to look than Minnesota State Fair: An Illustrated History, by Kathy and Linda Koutsky. (Disclosure: the authors are my friends, but even if I didn’t know them I would have to own this book and give it repeatedly as a gift to people who haven’t yet caught the Fair bug, or who have but don’t know about this book.)
The book is chockful of visual stimulation, much like the Fair. And like the Fair, needs to be devoured with a smile. Its 224 pages are filled with historical photos, details of things past, Fair lore—it’s all here, in one beautifully designed volume (Linda also designed the book) with over 1,200 black and white photographs and 120 recipes! The publisher has this to say:
fairs are cornerstones of the American tradition and few are as beloved
as the Minnesota State Fair. Since 1854, Minnesota has reveled in
promoting the rich bounty of its land and the magnificent talents of
its citizens. From legendary horse Dan Patch, whose record-breaking
wins kept race fans on the edge of their seats, to Teddy Roosevelt’s
famous grandstand speech suggesting that America should “speak softly
and carry a big stick,” and from the invention of mini-donuts to the
discovery of batter-fried cheese curds, the Minnesota State Fair has
captured the imagination—and taste buds—of an entire nation.
If you have any interest in the Fair at all I recommend that you buy
this book. With it you can relive past trips to the Fair, or plan
future trips. It’s essential. And it will look delightful on your
coffee table next to your Minnesota State Fair Journal.
Additional Information and Inspiration
The following links are provided as sites and sources for additional Minnesota State Fair related images and inspiration to get you geared up for your Fair trip:
Stop at David Steinlicht’s Cropart.com to see galleries of past entries from the Minnesota State Fair crop art exhibitions. Learn what crop art is and how to do it on this site as well.
Visit Crop Art Diary, a blog that shows you the process and progress David Steinlicht and other crop art artists are making on their works for the upcoming Minnesota State Fair. If you can't make your own crop art this year you can still enjoy the experience vicariously.
Twin Cities artists Roberta and Ken Avidor are serious Minnesota State Fair Sketchers who spoke about sketching at the Fair at Monday's MCBA Visual Journal Collective meeting (a post on this is coming soon). You can see examples of their Fair work in my August 14 post. But Ken is the driving force behind a Minnesota State Fair Sketch Out on September 1, so bookmark UrbanSketchers—Twin Cities now and visit it after the sketch out to see what people are sketching at the Fair.
By now you know that I’m completely State Fair focused. If you want to see selections from my past Minnesota State Fair Journals you can go to the following links (Fair journals before 2003 haven’t been digitized, we just have to keep moving forward):
2008 I never got around to scanning and posting this journal on the journal selection page of my website, but you can find a photo of the 2008 cards spread out on the table in front of its two-part case in my blog about unbound journals. (Scroll down as it comes towards the end of the post.)
2006 Only one image of this Fair visit made it onto the website—it was a busy year. I traveled to France and was painting furiously for a show. I think I got tired of scanning stuff. I do talk about my paper and book choice for the Fair on this selection.
2004 My experiments with the Pentel Color Brush and gouache on Cold Press watercolor paper. I didn't have a Pentel Pocket Brush Pen at this time. I liked the way the Pentel Color Brush bled when I added gouache. Read my review about these two pens here.
2003 (The box I made to contain these cards is kind of fun—painted in the same colors; it's the last photo in the group.)
Minneapolis artist Marty Harris is a huge State Fair Fan and he’s started a Minnesota State Fair Flickr Group to celebrate the Fair. He is looking for more Minnesota State Fair fans who sketch there to join up with him and his site.
So get busy looking at Minnesota State Fair information, images, and sketches. Check your journal paper supply, bind a new journal or cut up some cards, buy new pens, set out your working attire, and plot your course using the Fair schedule and maps. It’s going to be a great Fair!