The Minnesota Agricultural Society was founded in 1854 with a mission to promote the Minnesota Territory’s agriculture by presenting an annual fair – the first of which was held in 1855 in Minneapolis. Statehood was granted in 1858, and the Society held its first State Fair in 1859, also in Minneapolis.
St. Louis County held it’s first fair in 1885.
The character of early fairs was dominated by agricultural exhibits, horse racing and competitions, reflecting its original purpose of encouraging farming in the state. While agriculture and agricultural education is still the primary focus with a bigger-than-ever presence at the fair, the scope of activities has broadened to include large-scale entertainment, technological and industrial exhibits and participation of education and government institutions.