Little Farm Hands Marks 20 Years at the State Fair
The Kemps Little Farm Hands exhibit welcomes visitors on the first day of the 2023 fair. Photo by Winter Keefer

Little Farm Hands Marks 20 Years at the State Fair

For two decades, this Minnesota State Fair interactive exhibit has helped teach children about where their food comes from.

This year, the Minnesota State Fair’s Kemps Little Farm Hands exhibit marks its 20th anniversary teaching kids about agriculture.

After donning an apron, kids wandered with their families Thursday morning through a small cornfield south of Lee Avenue on the west side of Cooper Street, a space sectioned off from the rest of the fair’s businesses. Along the walk, the children got to ride small tractors, pick apples, gather eggs, milk a cow, and plant seeds. And there’s a reward for getting to the end. Each child gets a dollar to buy something at the small “grocery store” as a reward for their hard work on the farm.

This interactive experience is free and takes about 20 minutes to walk through. While it is geared toward children ages 3 to 10 years old, the space is open to all and runs daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. The main focus of the exhibit is to teach children where their food is coming from, Little Farm Hands coordinator Beth Shuldt told TCB.

“Yes, it comes from a grocery store, but the grocery store has to get it from somewhere,” Shuldt said.

Shuldt has worked for the fair since 1992. She says the base mission of the exhibit hasn’t changed, but the world has. Now, plaques along the route include educational material about pollinators, the water cycle, and sustainability.

“We’re starting from the ground and going all the way up to the sky, is our goal. We’re bringing it full circle and starting the conversation here,” she said.

While the exhibit touches on important topics, the goal is ultimately to make it fun for the kids who walk through. One of Shuldt’s favorite parts of her day is sharing obscure Minnesota farming facts.

Here are a few fun farm facts from Shuldt:

  • One sheep can create enough wool to make 64 baseballs.

  • One dairy cow can produce 6-7 gallons of milk per day.

  • A lot of people don’t know Minnesota has a state grain. It’s wild rice.

  • Minnesota also has a state soil. Lester soil became the state soil in 2012.