The Minnesota State Fair gets over two million visitors during the last 12 days of summer, ending on Labor Day. 12 hours. 12 days.
In 2008 I sold one needle on a stick. That was my first year with a booth at the fair. I put felt dots on popsicle sticks to hold the hand sewing needle I invented. That’s all I sold. One needle on a stick for $6 or three needles on sticks for $15. And by the end of that show I knew I had something special.
But, no one needle is the perfect tool for everyone. I sold only one size needle that first year because I did not realize anyone needed more than one size needle. After all, I invented the side threading needle just because I couldn’t sew on a button. However, almost every customer wanted a different size for a different task. Tasks I had never heard of … like Hardanger. Now I have multiple size needles and even have needles by other manufacturers.
I love watching the light bulb moment when people realize my needle has a threader in the eye. After I hand over the needle and thread to people, the look of surprise when they thread it is priceless. And when a grandma threads my needle and looks at her daughter with a big smile and tears in her eyes, well, those are the things I love at the fair.
Memories. At the very end of the last day of the fair in 2008 a woman ran in to buy three needles on sticks for her sisters. She even paid to get into the fair that second trip just to buy them. Another year a blind woman threaded my needle and told her perplexed son, “even I need to sew on a button”. To be gifted a blue ribbon winning hardanger piece that a woman made with my needle and a business card holder made for me by a man in wheelchair using my needle, some yarn and plastic grid … well those are treasures.
Yes the state fair is wonderful. But, right now I am in the “I am never doing the fair again” mode. I feel beaten down physically and mentally. My home is a mess and I couldn’t remember what I was going to do in the garage after I got there. What do I do first? Fill orders? Answer emails? Call people? Pay bills? Put the fair supplies away? Clean off my desk? Do I really need a shower? I still don’t know why I went to the garage. What if it was important? Maybe I should just go back to bed. I usually sleep for a week after the fair. Maybe I will stretch that out this year…