Minnesota State Fair Animal Barns—Meet the Manager

Beth Schuldt manages the State Fair menagerie


During the off-season, Coliseum and Livestock Complex Supervisor Beth Schuldt might be juggling a horse competition and a car show at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. But it’s nothing compared to the round-the-clock demands once the fair gets underway and the buildings are full of thousands of animals and visitors. Formerly a preschool teacher for 15 years, Schuldt has plenty of experience wrangling chaos.


“I’ve been working in livestock long enough to know what’s going on, but I didn’t grow up on a farm. I grew up in a small town and sometimes helped my friends with animals, but that was just to get them out of their chores faster so we could do what we wanted to do.”


“My job is a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and a smidge of this for good measure. With the buildings, I focus on cleaning, painting, making sure things look right. I still get in the tractor and drag things, sometimes I have to move a dumpster. When there’s been ice for events, I’ve gotten on the Zamboni and run the smoothers. You never know what’s coming around the corner.”

“During the fair I get here at around six in the morning, making sure the building is clean and dealing with overnight problems. We’re going 24 hours a day. We supervise cleaning the Miracle of Birth exhibit—there are always a few people that run out of there throwing up. We had about 55 people last year on livestock sanitation in all, not counting the full-timers who set up, tear down, and help out when somebody needs it.”

“During the fair, you just hope to God you have good people to deal with anything coming down. It was so hot last year, we were really concerned about the animals. The cattle can be a mess. Animals are like people: This isn’t their home, they’re eating stuff and drinking stuff, and their water isn’t the same.”

“A lot of the manure goes to the U of M. We have to work really hard to keep it clean—you can have trash, nails, wood. We basically have to pick everything out of it, but it’s the right thing to do and there’s no reason not to recycle as much as we can.”

“Years ago I was working at Little Farm Hands (the free hands-on agricultural kids’ exhibit) when we heard this big thump on the roof. Everything just stopped, because we were under the Sky Glider. All I could think was that someone had fallen off—and everyone was looking at me. I went out, and lying outside the door was somebody’s prosthetic leg. I picked it up, and someone said it came from a car that was going north. When I got to the workers on the Sky Glider, they asked me which car it had come from. I said, I think it came from that guy up there who’s missing a leg.”

WEB EXTRA: Behind the Scenes Photos