Inside the 2016 MN State Fair: We Love a Parade

Theresa Weinfurtner manages the Fair’s talent contest, parade

As the Minnesota State Fair’s entertainment manager, Theresa Weinfurtner runs an array of fun events, with annual highlights including the amateur talent contest and the daily parade.

The amateur talent contest, which Weinfurtner calls “my baby,” attracts everyone from dancers to fiddlers from all over the state. Theresa describes the contest, with 120 acts making it to the semifinals, as a far more supportive and friendly environment than national talent competitions such as American Idol.

“It’s fun to watch these people going up there and giving it their all,” says Weinfurtner. “You get kind of invested and you hope everybody does well.”

When she isn’t cheering on the state’s diverse performers, Weinfurtner spends much of her day at the Fair coordinating the daily parade, which features floats, bands, and animals. She reckons the job to solving a jigsaw puzzle, putting the parade participants in a logical order.

“It’s rewarding when I see it come down the street, and there’s at least a resemblance of what I had in mind,” she says.

Perfecting the lineup order is especially important, notes Weinfurtner, when it comes to the high-school marching bands and animals. “Horses don’t appreciate 77 trombones,” she adds.

From performers to ponies, Weinfurtner wrangles some of the most lively and fun aspects of the Great Minnesota Get-Together “It really brings people from every corner of the state together,” she says. “You feel like you’re part of a huge community of Minnesotans for those 12 days. It’s like a little utopia.”

Read more of our “Inside the 2016 MN State Fair” series:
Choosing the New Foods: Dennis Larson makes the calls every year on the Fair’s food line-up
Sounds of Summer: Nate Dungan selects the Fair’s free-music soundtrack
Wild, Wild Life: Mark Goodrich oversees the four-legged fairgoers
Lord of the Rides: Jim Sinclair chooses our favorite thrills, spills, and rides