Michael Ewen, Videographer
The Minnesota State fair is known for showcasing agriculture, wildlife, and tasting all of the unusual foods on a stick. But the University of St. Thomas has its own tradition that fairgoers look forward to year after year.
Over the past decade, St. Thomas has handed out the trademark purple tote bags.
“We’ve handed out bandanas and sports kind of things, but the bags are the hits so we keep handing them out,” said University Relations editor Patty Petersen.
The demand was so high that the faculty set up three handout times throughout the day. But this didn’t keep fair attendees from forming a line that stretched well outside of the doors of the education building to get their free bag. Once all the bags were handed out for a specific shift, they could be seen across the fairgrounds as people filled them with their collections at the fair.
The bags’ uses do not end at the great Minnesota get-together. Some fairgoers say they use them as reusable grocery bags in their efforts to go green. Other people have international use for their purple bags.
“We’re collecting them for a friend who is sending them to Africa to be used by nurses in the field,” said Jim Keeler from St. Paul.
Though the popular bags are useful, they still saw the effects of the economy. Petersen said that there were fewer bags at the fair this year to save money. “We cut back by 40,000 [bags], so we have 60,000 this year instead of 100,000,” she said.
No matter how many bags they have to hand out, the University of St. Thomas will always be represented at the state fair, spreading Tommie pride one bag at a time.
Zach Pagano can be reached at email@example.com.