Inside the 2016 MN State Fair: Wild, Wild Life

Mark Goodrich oversees the four-legged fairgoers

For Mark Goodrich, some of the most difficult fair-goers are four-legged.

“Oh boy, some of them are princesses,” says Goodrich, who as deputy general manager oversees the Fair’s agriculture programming and competitions (among a range of other responsibilities). “But a majority of the animals enjoy coming to the Fair and enjoy showing off and just being part of it.”

Along with his team, Goodrich is responsible for the care and keeping of 12,000 animals and the two-legged owners who stay at the Fairgrounds over the course of 12 days each year.

The animals come to the Fair in three different groups, with each staying around four days. From unloading trailers to cleaning facilities, Goodrich’s team works around the clock to make the barns ready for the public every morning.

With so many different animals, from swine to sheep, the team needs knowledge and expertise to accommodate the needs of each species. “There are many nights where I don’t sleep very well, if at all, worrying about all the different aspects of all those livestock,” he says.

The stressful and sleepless nights are worth it for Goodrich—who grew up showing livestock—particularly when he’s able to work with young animal lovers. “Just seeing the joy of a youngster showing their heifer or lamb, those are very special moments,” he says.

Goodrich hopes that the Fair’s agricultural aspects will continue to help bridge the gap between rural and urban Minnesota.

“I think there’s so many of us who want to be able to share the agriculture story to the urban public,” he says. “And I think the Fair is the greatest conduit there is.”

Read more of our “Inside the 2016 MN State Fair” series:
Sounds of Summer: Nate Dungan selects the Fair’s free-music soundtrack
Lord of the Rides: Jim Sinclair chooses our favorite thrills, spills, and rides
Choosing the New Foods: Dennis Larson makes the calls every year on the Fair’s food line-up
We Love a Parade: Theresa Weinfurtner manages the Fair’s talent contest, parade