By Eileen Dahill who runs the Minneapolis / St Paul section of CraicOn.

I only saw Bob Dylan once. It was outside at the Minnesota State Fair at the big Grandstand in 1990. At that time all the ushers were the FFA – The Future Farmers of America. The FFA come to the Minnesota State Fair for agricultural experiences which include livestock competitions and exhibits educating fair attendees. The FFA are easily identified by their smart dark blue jackets with gold emblems.

What were the Future Farmers of America doing as ushers at the State Fair Grandstand I do not know! Perhaps the youth (13-17 years) volunteered in hopes of seeing the Grandstand stars for free! In 1990, besides Dylan, the fair entertainment included The Beach Boys, John Denver, and Bill Cosby.

I had worked twice before for the State Fair in information. I road in a golf cart and delivered “Princesses” to their daily destinations. The Honey Bee Queen scooped honey ice cream in full regal regalia at noon in the horticulture building. The Minnesota Pork Queen and her retinue ‘The Porkettes’ needed to be delivered to the swine barn. I also escorted the State Fair Mascot, Fairchild (a gopher) out to meet and greet the public. But only special handlers dealt with the young woman who would be crowned Princess Kay of the Milky Way and her 11 princesses. They were delivered one by one to the Dairy Building where their image was carved in butter and displayed in special refrigeration. It was fun but exhausting days.


But I came back to the fair a few years later for Bob Dylan in concert at the Grandstand. Our tickets were in the bleachers but the Grandstand was only half full. The crowd did not rush the stage to get closer but hundreds waltzed down row after row hurtling over wooden partitions to get closer to Bob Dylan. The poor Future Farmers of America! Feeble attempts to stop the hundreds of people oozing toward the stage were ignored. We were as old as their parents and we used that leverage. A Future Farmer of America asked to see my ticket and I just gave it to him!

I don’t remember the set list. I do remember Bob Dylan playing the harmonica. So many of us felt so lucky that we were suddenly standing right in front of the stage leaving the Future Farmers of America far behind. Bob Dylan, our native son from Hibbing Minnesota, made us feel like we were part of the bigger world that he traveled in that afternoon at the Minnesota State Fair in 1990.

This is a portrait of Bob Dylan in crop art from the Minnesota State Fair executed in wild rice and quinoa.