MEADOWLANDS – The first Meadowlands Fair was held in 1917 by the Duluth and Iron Range Railroad to display the products grown by Meadowlands residents. It was called the Duluth and Iron Range Exhibition. In 1919 it was held as the Meadowlands Fair and featured goods grown by school children in their garden plots. Prizes were provided by the railroad.
The following year it was held as the Meadowlands Fair run by the local residents and it became an annual event. The fair was held in the first school, a wooden structure, built in Meadowlands. When a brick building was constructed for a new school, the fair moved to that building. It moved between several buildings for a few years to accommodate 4-H clubs exhibits, including animals.
An addition on the north side of that first brick building added a large gymnasium, balcony and stage that were well used by the fair. The stage and floor were filled with tables covered with exhibits. The balcony railing was used to display quilts.
Booster buttons were sold by school girls in those early years. The gal selling the most buttons was crowned queen of the fair. Runners-up were princesses and grade school girls were part of the royalty. In 1954 I was the queen of the fair. Crown, robe and flowers were included in the award, as well as a ride on the bed of a logging truck with the rest of the royalty of the fair.
Through the years it moved from that first school to a new Meadowlands school, a building that eventually became the center of two additions and operated until 2000 when the school closed. The fair moved between several different buildings for a few years including an old depot that was moved to the area that eventually became a park. When the Meadowlands Community Center was constructed in 1986, it became the permanent home for the Fair.
When the Hibbing Fair became the North St. Louis County Fair and the Proctor area fair became the South St. Louis County Fair, the Meadowlands Fair became the Central St. Louis County fair.
Members of a local family took over the kitchen and served hamburgers, hot dogs, homemade pies for many years.
A drawing for bicycles, one for girls and one for boys, ages 5 through 13, sponsored by the Western Fraternal Association, has been held at the fair for more than 25 years.
A kiddie tractor pull, “Pedal to the Medal’’ sponsored by the Toivola Meadowlands Development Board, has been featured at the fair for 17 years.
In 1983 an ice cream booth sponsored by local dairy farm members of ADA (American Dairy Association) was added. My husband David and I operated it for 13 years. It was taken over by Lyn Kozumplik and her family in 1996. Twenty-four years later Lyn’s family had to give it up. Not many dairy farms are left in the area and there were no volunteers to take over.
As happens with many organizations, soon membership of the fair board became so small that the few remaining workers couldn’t complete all the necessary tasks to make the fair work. In 2014 a mass mailing went out to the communities surrounding Meadowlands informing residents that unless more people stepped up to join the fair board, the event would no longer be held. The date of the next meeting was included. Five folks stepped up. Angie Simonson, a marketing professional, was elected president of the board and with her influence and ability, the fair grew with added activities and vendors. Community members volunteer to help out an hour or two at a time with Bingo, kids’ games, keeping food tables cleaned, and clean-up following the fair.
Exhibits are entered on Friday and judging takes place from 5 – 7 p.m. Exhibits are displayed in the community center all weekend. Rich Catering of Floodwood now serves food from the community center kitchen and three food trucks offer a variety of foods.
Friday’s events include Bar Bingo at the Trailside. Whiskey Trail will play outside the Trailside in the evening. Fireworks will take place at 9 p.m. This began last year when a large donation was made in the name of former Meadowlands firefighter, Joe Brownell, who died in an ATV accident. It was decided to continue the fireworks as a memorial. Anyone can donate in honor or memory of a loved one and the name will appear on a banner at the fair. Donations can be sent to Meadowlands Fair, P.O. Box 152, Meadowlands, MN 55765. Include the name and “in honor” or “in memory.”
Saturday’s events include the River to River Run/Walk, which has been a part of the fair for several years. The 5K race starts at 8:30 a.m. and runs between the Whiteface and St. Louis rivers. There are prizes for winners and t-shirts and treats for all. The Kids’ Run takes place after the 5K. A Big Button Hunt challenges participants to follow clues around town to be the first to find the giant fair button to win the $100 prize.
Teen Pic Scavenger Hunt starts at noon on Saturday. Bring a device that takes pictures. Other Saturday events include: • Local Family Feud LIVE takes place at 12 p.m. on stage. Most questions will be about life in northern Minnesota. • Attendance drawings take place at 12, 2,
4 and 5 p.m. • Kids’ games in the park are from 1 – 3 p.m. Most games are free and fun for any age. • Live music on stage from 3 – 5 p.m. • Bean Bag tournament at 4 p.m. at the
Trailside; $10 per person, $20 for a team. • Street Dance in front of the Trailside from 8:30 p.m. – 12:30 a.m. featuring
KMA DJ Johnny B. ($5 cover charge). • Adult Lip Sync takes place during the street dance. Dancing, props, costumes are encouraged.
The fairgrounds close at 7 p.m.
Fairgrounds open at Sunday at 10 a.m. with Worship in the Park with Casey Aro. Other Sunday events include the parade at 11:30 a.m. Bingo starts at 12 p.m. There will be vendors, activities and food in the park.
After the parade, the Lahti Farms $100 coin dig will be held, followed by Youth Tractor Pull. From 1 – 5 p.m., KMA DJ Johnny B. will be at the Trailside. The Kids Lip Sync Battle will take place on the Trailside stage at 2:30 p.m. Beginning at 4 p.m., there will be hundreds of prize drawings.
These events and activities are sponsored by the Fair Board; Lahti Farms of Toivola; Northwoods Credit Union of Cloquet and Floodwood; the Meadowlands Fire Department; Alborn Sno Devils; Trailside Lounge and Grill of Meadowlands; Wick & Associates of Toivola; Larry’s Service and Bait of Floodwood; L.J. Auto of Floodwood; and Lake County Power.
For more information, visit www.meadowlandsfair.net. Come on down and check out this small town fun event.
Helen Abramson lives in Meadowlands, MN.