Pants or no pants? 50 years of Minnesota State Fair mascots

Fairchild claps
The Minnesota State Fair's mascot, Fairchild, applauds at Minnesota Music-On-a-Stick. Fairchild turns 50 this year.
Nate Ryan | MPR 2014

Happy 50th, Fairchild!

The State Fair mascot — one of two — celebrates five decades as the face of the Great Minnesota Get-Together this year.

Fairchild's path out of the gopher hole and into the spotlight began in the 1960s. Before then, a different image had been featured yearly on the fair letterhead (an illustration of a gopher was among them). Officials decided they wanted something more permanent to represent the annual event.

So in 1966, a mascot was born.

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A fiberglass statue of a gopher standing about 24 feet tall was built on the fairgrounds and the fair held a statewide contest to name the new mascot. A thousand people entered, and two submitted the name Fairchild.

"It was the last name of a man named Henry Fairchild from the 1800s, who suggested using the Ramsey County Poor Farm as the permanent fairgrounds," says Keri Huber, the fair's archivist specialist. "We've been at this location since 1885, so it's an homage to him, along with a wonderful name that encompasses fair and children."

Unfortunately for fair attendees that year, there was no roving Fairchild. That didn't come until the next year.

The Fairchild of the 1960s looks quite a bit different from the Fairchild of today (he also has a sidekick now — he was joined by his nephew Fairborne in 1983).

Click through the gallery below for a look at the evolution of the State Fair's original mascot.