Surviving the Minnesota State Fair

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…