Appetites: Look inside the State Fair's roasted sweet corn operation

Brad Ribar flips roasting corn.
Corn roast owner and founder Brad Ribar prepares to flip a wire grate full of roasting sweet corn over a bed of hot coals at the Minnesota State Fair on Thursday.
Evan Frost | MPR News
Sweet corn gets rinsed before roasting.
Cobs of sweet corn sit in a tub of water before being roasted over a pit of coals.
Evan Frost | MPR News

An ear of roasted sweet corn is one of the simpler treats available at the Minnesota State Fair.

But before you can snag an ear, there's a lot of hot, dirty work that needs to happen.

Brad Ribar is in his 32nd year running the State Fair's corn roast booth. The operation employs 95-100 people, he said, with about 60 working at any given time.

It's not easy work — temperatures inside the booth often top 100 degrees.

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Corn roast employees shuck corn.
Corn roast employees quickly shuck roasted sweet corn before passing it off to be dipped in butter and traded to hungry fairgoers for a $3 ticket on Thursday.
Evan Frost | MPR News

The normal goal is to sell around 200,000 ears of corn. At $3 an ear, the money adds up.

Still, Ribar says it's not enough to live off. His booth does about 30 other events throughout the warmer months, the biggest of which is the Great Minnesota Get-Together.

Ribar sat down with All Things Considered host Tom Crann at the fair to talk about how corn goes from farm to fairgoer.

Use the audio player above to hear more on the State Fair's roasted corn operation.