U of M Day at the State Fair honors school’s birthday

by Sarah Brownson

Although the University is older than the state of Minnesota, the school has never been honored with its own day at the state’s great get together — the Minnesota State Fair.
At least not until University President Mark Yudof led a parade Aug. 27 to kick of the fair’s University of Minnesota Day.
The school’s marching band played upbeat renditions and cheerleaders got the crowd psyched for the coming school year.
The first-ever University of Minnesota Day coincides with the school’s yearlong sesquicentennial celebration.
“We’ve always had exhibits here and often the band, but this really sort of brings it all together,” Yudof said.
Patrons of the fair were asked to wear maroon and gold in honor of the University.
“It’s spectacular; people are so supportive,” Yudof said. “We’re older than the state, and I think there’s a particular warm spot for the University.”
Attendance reached 179,573 for U of M Day at the fair.
Fans wearing Golden Gopher visors scattered along the parade route to watch the band wave their instruments high in the air while the crowd clapped to the beat. Many students and staff carried banners or rode on floats proudly displaying the college or program to which they belong.
“History is being made today,” Margaret Carlson, executive president of the University of Minnesota Alumni Association, told the crowd. “You are a part of history.”
Yudof thanked the crowd for coming out and being a part of the festivities.
“We’re going to celebrate the tradition of the state fair all season long,” he said. “We’re going to have Badgers on a stick, we’re going to have Wolverines on a stick and Hawkeyes on a stick.”
This upcoming season is also a big one for Gophers sportscaster, Ray Christensen, who will end his 50-year broadcasting career this year.
“For 85 percent of the Minnesota population in the state of Minnesota the only voice they have ever heard broadcasting a Gopher football game is that of Ray Christensen,” said University alumnus Dave Mona.
Other highlights included a 156-foot “Building a Better U” display that spanned the length of Wright Avenue at the fair.
The display highlighted not only construction at the University, but also included information on how the University is working to improve student housing, research facilities and the arts.
After the pep fest, Yudof took a moment to discuss his hopes for the coming year. He said he wants to get the new freshman settled into the residence halls, finish building projects, recruit more professors, improve advising and build on relations with the state Legislature.