A view of the exciting crowds at the MN State Fair.

The Green Minnesota Get-Together

Sweet Martha’s Cook­ies. Pron­to Pups. Princess Kay’s But­ter Sculp­ture. Any Min­neso­ta State Fair enthu­si­ast can eas­i­ly con­jure (or taste!) these icon­ic images from the Great Min­neso­ta Get-Togeth­er. But today, we want to focus on some oth­er, often more invis­i­ble (but equal­ly icon­ic) ele­ments at the State Fair that pro­mote sustainability!

The Min­neso­ta State Fair, boast­ing some of the largest num­bers of atten­dees in state fairs across the Unit­ed States, must make plans not only for ven­dors, mar­kets, ani­mals, weath­er and media, but also for the lit­er­al tons of mate­ri­als and waste that will need to be discarded.

After a fas­ci­nat­ing and infor­ma­tive inter­view with Maria Hay­den, the Min­neso­ta State Fair’s offi­cial spokesper­son, Bell­mont Part­ners learned all about the facts and fig­ures around sus­tain­abil­i­ty at the fair.

“This year, more than 800 bot­tle-recy­cling recep­ta­cles will be placed around the fair­grounds, ready to col­lect and recy­cle upwards of 30 tons of glass, plas­tic and alu­minum over the course of the 2023 fair,” explained Hay­den. “And for the more than 70 tons food waste, card­board, grease, com­post, co-min­gling recy­cling and garbage, the fair has labeled recep­ta­cles through­out the grounds, with san­i­ta­tion staff on duty to mon­i­tor and cor­rect dis­pos­als to ensure waste is being appro­pri­ate­ly diverted.”

To put it sim­ply, this is a huge event. And so far, the mea­sures we’ve list­ed are only relat­ed to peo­ple.

Ani­mals play a quin­tes­sen­tial role in the essence and pur­pose of the Min­neso­ta State Fair. From the Mir­a­cle of Birth Cen­ter to the 4‑H Build­ing, Pet Pavil­ion, But­ter­fly House and glim­mer­ing fish at the DNR Build­ing, logis­tics around ani­mals, and their waste, is a nec­es­sary fac­tor in the State Fair equation.

Once again, the folks at the fair have care­ful­ly cal­cu­lat­ed sus­tain­abil­i­ty into these plans. Maria shared that the state fair will sep­a­rate and clean more than 3,400 tons of manure from cows, hors­es, sheep, goats, pigs, lla­mas, rab­bits and oth­er live­stock of trash and non-nat­ur­al mate­ri­als, then trans­port this manure to Hast­ings, Minn., where it will be com­post­ed, mixed with dirt and used as fer­til­iz­er on more than 1,000 acres of farm field.

Addi­tion­al­ly, the build­ings on the grounds, many of which have his­toric sig­nif­i­cance, have received updates over the years to be more effi­cient, includ­ing the instal­la­tion of ener­gy-con­serv­ing LED bulbs and incor­po­rat­ing green build­ing fea­tures into some new con­struc­tion. The fair has also imple­ment­ed onsite storm water man­age­ment tech­niques using new infil­tra­tion and native plantings.

These oper­a­tional efforts undoubt­ed­ly make an enor­mous impact, yet the Min­neso­ta State Fair does not stop there. This year, the Eco Expe­ri­ence will be occur­ring all twelve days of the Fair. Air, Land, Water and Cli­mate exhibits and the Sus­tain­abil­i­ty Stage — out­reach efforts sup­port­ed by the Min­neso­ta Pol­lu­tion Con­trol Agency — make this the largest envi­ron­men­tal event of its kind, nation­al­ly, in the last two decades. Fair­go­ers can learn about hands-on, action­able steps they can take to make their home, com­mute, and lifestyle choic­es more sus­tain­able for Min­neso­ta and the world.

So, what can you do in 2023 to enjoy the Min­neso­ta State Fair sustainably?

  1. Bring a reusable water bot­tle. Use refill­able water sta­tions locat­ed all over the grounds. These sta­tions are labeled on this year’s map!
  2. Sort your trash prop­er­ly. Use the labels on waste and recy­cling recep­ta­cles to prop­er­ly dis­pose of food waste, pack­ag­ing, and more, so that it can be accu­rate­ly dis­card­ed or recycled.
  3. Save your sou­venir cup and Fun Card! Pur­chase one cup and one Fun Card (the new paper­less tick­et sys­tem for the Mid­way and Kid­way!) this year and use it next year (and the years after!)
  4. Take advan­tage of the numer­ous pub­lic trans­porta­tion options across the metro or even con­sid­er rid­ing your bike!

It’s a Great Min­neso­ta Get-Togeth­er, but let’s make it a “Green” one, too!

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