Booklet commemorates Ramsey County Fair’s 100-year milestone


Jim Lindner

Jill Yanish
Review staff

Did you know the Ramsey County Fair was canceled in 1946 due to a polio outbreak that infected one out of every 2,649 residents in St. Paul?

History buff Jim Lindner discovered this fact during his research for a booklet he wrote to commemorate the fair’s centennial anniversary.

In his 36-page booklet, “Down Through the Years,” Lindner takes readers on a journey of the fair’s history, starting with its founding in 1913 in White Bear Lake to its present-day location in Maplewood.

“I want to share my understanding of the historical perspective of the fair,” said Lindner, who lives in Gem Lake. “The people who go to the fair now can learn the 100-year history of it. If someone was transported from now to 1913, they wouldn’t recognize the fair then.”

The fair has a tale to tell. It began as an agricultural hub where farmers showcased produce and livestock, serving as an educational venue as well.

As the rural parts of Ramsey County gave way to suburban living during the 1950s, the fair had to adjust its events to appeal to a new generation of visitors and emphasize more creative arts activities and shows rather than agricultural.

In 1953, the White Bear Lake School Board purchased the former fairgrounds to expand its school and grounds, forcing the fair to relocate. The fair opened in its current location in Maplewood in 1954 on the grounds of what was then known as the Ramsey County Poor Farm.

Lindner discovered the fair’s resiliency during his research. The county has seen many demographic changes over the decades, and while the fair remains connected to its agriculture past, there is more emphasis on family-orientated entertainment now, Lindner said.

He dedicated approximately 60 hours to researching and writing the booklet, which includes photos that he found in newspapers, as well as some of his own photos from past fairs.
Joe Fox, Ramsey County Fair manager, said the book adds to the fair’s 100-year celebration.

“He did a good job. ... It shows really how agriculture has changed and county fairs,” Fox said.

Lindner has a master’s in history from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and is a corporate facilities manager for Ecumen in Shoreview.

The booklet, “Down Through the Years,” will be available for purchase at the Ramsey County Fair, which runs from July 10-14.

Jill Yanish can be reached at jyanish@lillienews.com or 651-748-7825.

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