State fair at center of heat waveErika Blesener’s annual trip to the Minnesota State Fair with her grandmother, Kay Johnson, was cut short last weekend because of the heat.
By: Jana Peterson and Don Davis, Pine Journal
Erika Blesener’s annual trip to the Minnesota State Fair with her grandmother, Kay Johnson, was cut short last weekend because of the heat.
“We were supposed to go Sunday and Monday, but it was too hot,” said Blesener, who said she and Johnson got to the fair about 10 a.m. Sunday, then left to cool off at the hotel at 4 p.m. and returned for another four hours that evening.
Blesener said she took a screen shot of a temperature sign in St. Paul that read 97 degrees Sunday.
“With the humidity, it was supposed to feel like 103 degrees,” said the 15-year-old. “The humidity was crazy.”
Neither Cloquet resident had a specific strategy for beating the heat, although Blesener said they drank a lot of water throughout the day and she naturally gravitated to the Coliseum because she loves watching horse shows.
“It’s so huge, it’s actually pretty comfortable in there,” Blesener said, adding that she’s been going to the fair with her grandmother since she was 5.
The National Weather Service warned the oppressive heat would continue through much of the Upper Midwest through at least Wednesday. Tuesday was the third day of the high heat.
Temperatures across much of the Upper Midwest are due to remain in the 90s into the weekend, when more normal temperatures are expected to return. Most of North Dakota and South Dakota will remain in the 90s, although some of northern Minnesota may continue in the relatively chilly mid-80s. Through Wednesday, Duluth had seen 14-straight days with temperatures reaching the 80s or higher, one short of tying the record of 15 days, recorded July 20-Aug. 3, 1941.
Few serious heat-related problems were reported, but there were issues.
Some students at one Minneapolis school protested because they were forced to attend classes with no air conditioning. Many schools in the region canceled evening sports activities and some communities shuttered community centers without air conditioning.
Rough weather rumbled through northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin Monday night and early Tuesday, prompting some tornado warnings. Parts of northwestern Wisconsin received nearly 6 inches of rain, the second downpour in two days.
The region’s largest gathering this week is the Minnesota State Fair in Falcon Heights, where the heat was affecting visitors and vendors alike.
Attendance was down Monday to 103,000 visitors, compared to 133,000 last year. Veteran fair-goers said they thought the Tuesday crowd was down even more, one of the slimmest attendances they had seen.
Vendors said Tuesday was particularly slow.
“When it is in the 80s, things it slows down, when it hits 90, it stops,” said Tim Weiss, who runs Giggles’ Campfire Grill in the fair’s North Woods area.
Near the southern end of the fair, the Bennett family of Rice Lake, Wis., stood in the shade eating early Tuesday afternoon and taking advantage of the slow day.
The Bennetts and other fair visitors said they liked the fact that lines were short. The family was decked out in white T-shirts.
“It doesn’t attract the sun as much,” Carter Bennett said.
Mom Donielle Bennett packed frozen grapes as cool treats and water for hydration for the kids, including J.T., 9, and Luke, 4. J.T. pointed out that the family also bought chilled fruit at the fair.
The family maintained a good attitude despite the heat.
“Put on a smile,” Donielle Bennett suggested. “Remember, the snow is coming.”