Blue Thumb Recognizes 2016 Minnesota State Fair Volunteers

This year’s Minnesota State Fair drew record breaking crowds totaling 1,943,719 visitors over 12 days. That’s about 9 percent stronger than last year and handily beat the previous record of 1,824,830 visitors set in 2014.

The Eco Experience, a collection of educational exhibits presented by the Minnesota State Fair and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, is one of the busiest attractions at the Fair and has garnered numerous awards. Blue Thumb has been exhibiting at the Minnesota State Fair with the MPCA for 11 years. This year, Blue Thumb provided interactive displays outside the building, showcasing alternatives to high maintenance grass turf and the benefits of smarter landscaping with native plants, drought resistant plants and rain gardens.

“To say it’s a major undertaking to plan, stage and staff these exhibits is an understatement. It takes an expert village,” said Metro Blooms executive director Becky Rice, who administers the Blue Thumb program. “Fortunately, Blue Thumb has generous partners and volunteers who made our participation this year a grand success. We owe our thanks to them all.”

Blue Thumb would like to thank and recognize the following organizations and individuals for their significant contributions.

  • Conservation Corps of Minnesota and Iowa, for providing crew and equipment to transport mulch and the Alternative Turf exhibit. 
  • Roy Robison and Karl Ruser, Landscape Alternatives, who provided expert advice and native plants for the Alternative Turf exhibit. 
  • Funding for this project was provided by the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, as part of Blue Cross’ long-term commitment to tackling the leading causes of preventable disease: tobacco use, lack of physical activity and unhealthy eating. 
Conservation Corp volunteers

Conservation Corp of Minnesota and Iowa moving displays.

Blue Thumb Alternative Turf display

Visitors checking out the Alternative Turf display.

Blue Thumb Pledge to Plant exhibit

Getting Blue Thumb partner resource information and pledging to plant.

Blue Thumb native plant exhibit

Checking out one of the beautiful native plant gardens.

  • Russ Henry, Giving Tree Gardens, and Ann Davenport, Field Outdoor Spaces. Both took two or more shifts at the fair to educate citizens and promote their businesses – smart!
  • The members of the Blue Thumb Steering Committee and the State Fair Exhibit Committee for their help with conception, set up and volunteer recruitment for the event. 
  • Plus all the volunteers who staffed the exhibits and guided visitors through fun and educational experiences. 
Russ Henry

Blue Thumb partner Russ Henry models cardinal flower.

Blue Thumb volunteers

Volunteers shine bright!

Blue Thumb native plant activity

Picture perfect as a native plant.

Blue Thumb native plant exhibit

Visitors relaxing amid native plants.

“We’re committed to helping residents and businesses understand the many ways they can plant to support clean water, and the Great Minnesota Get-Together is our largest single opportunity each year,” said John Bly, Metro Blooms environmental program manager for Blue Thumb. “We thank the MPCA staff for all their support and assistance in creating the exhibit. We’re happy to be invited back for 2017 and look forward to bringing our Blue Thumb partners together again for another great Minnesota State Fair.