U departments spend thousands on State Fair recruiting effort

By Joanna Dornfeld

Hundreds of University faculty, staff and students annually participate in the Minnesota State Fair, making it one of the University’s longest standing traditions.

“As long as there has been a fair, the University has had a presence,” said Nina Shepherd, director of events and special projects for University Relations.

Last summer the University’s fair participation cost about $48,000. Annually, the University budgets $35,000 for the fair, and individual colleges and departments – renting out their respective spaces for about $2 per square foot – make up the rest.

State and tuition dollars pay for this tradition.

Using private donations, the University sponsors Maroon and Gold Day at the fair. Sponsoring a fair day costs $25,000, but the University managed to cut costs using its own advertisements and only paid $17,000.

But the fair is not only a tradition. It’s also an investment.

“One reason I’ve spent time there is to recruit future students,” said animal science professor Tony Seykora. He has been part of the fair for 40 years. He participated in his youth through 4-H and now judges livestock.

“We do get students coming to campus because of their involvement with the fair,” he said.

This year, there are 12 colleges and departments in the University’s area, located in the Crossroads Building. The colleges promote their programs and research work in their displays.

“It’s been an incredibly strong community-building activity in the College (of Education and Human Development),” said Amy Anderson, communications director for the college.

Last year CCE had more than 150 volunteers to staff its booth for the fair’s duration.

“It was such a great sense of pride in the college,” Anderson said.

On the stage outside the Crossroads Building, University faculty, staff and students will entertain fair crowds.

Aug. 26 is Maroon and Gold Day. At 2 p.m. the University marching band will lead a parade through the fairgrounds, followed by a pep rally in Carousel Park at 3 p.m.

The fair will remain open Aug. 23 through Sept. 3 and is located on the corner of Como and Snelling Avenues.


Joanna Dornfeld welcomes comments at [email protected]