Faces of the Fair: Roz Stendahl, artist

Roz Stendahl at the Minnesota State Fair
Roz Stendahl sketched goats at the Minnesota State Fair last week.
Tracy Mumford | MPR News

The State Fair's goats are ready for their close-up. The ruminants roam their pens, lounging and munching on hay as people snap photos and walk the aisles.

Roz Stendahl stops to capture the details — the curve of their necks and the shape of their ears — and she does it with pen and paper.

Stendahl has been coming to the fair since the 1970s, when she moved to Minnesota for graduate school. She's a graphic designer and illustrator by trade, and the fair gives her a chance to sketch animals up close.

Roz Stendahl's drawing at the state fair
Roz Stendahl showed off her watercolor of a pig.
Tracy Mumford | MPR News

In a normal year, she would spend most of her time in the Poultry Barn, drawing birds.

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"They're just so interesting. They're like dinosaurs. You can see their reptilian past when you look at their eyes and their details," she said.

Birds are her favorite subject, whether at the fair or in France. "I'd go to Paris and the first thing I'd draw when I got off the plane is a pigeon."

Due to the recent bird flu epidemic, however, there are no birds on display at this year's fair. "So I'll have to draw more people than usual."

Stendahl does quick sketches and more detailed watercolors, depending on what catches her eye. In the decades she's spent sketching at the fair, she's found a community of other artists who sketch fair scenes.

On Sept. 1, they will gather outside the Argiculture-Horticulture Building on the fairgrounds and share what they've captured this year. They call it the Minnesota State Fair Sketch Out.

Over the course of the fair, Stendahl will have filled a whole notebook. She can finish 15 to 30 sketches in one morning.

"I draw for a few hours," she said. "Then I go get a corndog."