A Different Type of Wilderness

If you’re heading to the Minnesota State Fair this year then be sure to check out everything the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has there.  When we’ve visited the Fair it’s our favorite thing to do.  It’s not like being in the Boundary Waters but it’s a taste of wilderness in the midst of the chaotic and fun fair.

DNR State Fair exhibit fact sheet

DNR Building

Historic DNR building at State Fair opened Sept. 1, 1934.
It cost $73,000 to build (almost 10 times the net profit of 1934 State Fair).
Gate tickets in 1934 cost 25 cents.
Funding came from federal and state emergency relief administration and State Fair funds.
Civilian Conservation Corps erected the building in less than six months using machined logs.
The main building is 186 feet by 66 feet and is 40 feet high.
Approximately 800,000 people visit DNR building and surrounding park area each year.
DNR building open daily during State Fair from 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
New DNR Aquariums

DNR has completely renovated its indoor fish exhibit, installing five large aquariums inside the main DNR building.
Each tank shows fish in their native Minnesota habitat: trout of southeastern Minnesota; fish of the St. Croix River; and species of central, southern and northern Minnesota lakes.
New aquariums are built lower to the ground, making it easier for more guests to see the turtles, fish and other species.
Combined aquarium capacity of more than 5,000 gallons of water, the same amount of water the average family of four uses in a month.
When full, tanks will weigh about 118,000 pounds or about the weight of a juvenile Right whale.
DNR Fish Pond

The DNR’s live fish exhibit is one of State Fair’s most popular attractions.
Outdoor fish pond holds about 50,000 gallons of water.
Outdoor pond is kidney-shaped and is about 100 feet by 50 feet.
This year’s exhibit is expected to display about 45 species of fish that call Minnesota home.
One of the most popular fish with fairgoers is the paddlefish. Characterized by its long, paddle-like bill, the paddlefish is found in the lower Mississippi River below Minneapolis. Paddlefish grow to be quite large, with fish up to 200 pounds being recorded. The paddlefish is a state threatened species.
The largest fish in the exhibit is the lake sturgeon, which exceeds 50 inches. A State Fair veteran, this specimen was the gift of an angler who harvested it legally from the St. Croix River several years ago. Lake sturgeon in Minnesota are found in the Mississippi, St. Croix and Rainy river systems.
Fish pond talks by MinneAqua program specialists take place at quarter to the half daily, from 9:45 a.m. to 4 p.m.
State Park Camper Cabin

A state park camper cabin model is on display during the State Fair.
Fairgoers can step inside the 24-foot by 12-foot cabin to check it out.
Cabins are built to provide a “camping out” experience within the comfort of four walls.
Cabin has two sets of bunks allowing accessibility for a wheelchair.
Camper cabin includes a picnic table and a fire ring with grill.
There are more than 80 camper cabins available to rent in state parks and recreational areas located throughout the state.
Most cabins are available to rent year-round. Most have heat and electricity. Cabins rent for about $50 per night.
Camper cabin display model open during the State Fair from 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. daily. Located in DNR Park, near southwest corner of DNR building.
DNR Fire Tower

Was specifically built for State Fair to provide a wildfire prevention message to visitors.
Fire tower opened in 1966 and was closed in 1978 because of safety concerns.
Fire tower was repaired and reopened in 2006.
Fire tower is 65 feet tall.
There are 84 steps from bottom to top.
There is no charge for people to climb to fire tower stairs to get birds-eye view of fair.
Tower open daily during fair from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., weather permitting.
DNR Wildlife…Forever Wing

Fairgoers can learn about Minnesota species and wildlife habitat.
Special sound and lighting effects help create an experience of moving from day to night and through the four seasons, as visitors walk through the display.
Display located in DNR Building and is open daily during State Fair from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Adopt-a-River Sculpture

This is the 20th consecutive year that an Adopt-a-River sculpture has been on display.
Each year, a new sculpture is made from trash and scrap collected by an artist at Adopt-a-River cleanups on Minnesota waterways.
Sculpture is a tribute to more than 90,000 volunteers who have removed more than 6 million pounds of trash from public waters at more than 3,200 clean-ups over the years.
Sculpture is located in DNR Park, south of the DNR fish pond.
Smokey Bear

Smokey Bear is celebrating 69 years of reminding children and their parents about the dangers of wildfires.
Smokey Bear makes daily appearances at DNR Park at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
In conjunction with the Governor’s 16th annual Fire Prevention Day on Friday, Aug. 23, the DNR Forestry Division will host a variety of special activities and Smokey Bear appears at DNR Park at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 12 p.m., 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.