What type of questions did people have at the 2021 Minnesota State Fair?

By Shane Evans

With the cancellation of the State Fair in 2020, the UMN turfgrass research group was primed to interact with, and answer, the many questions State Fair patrons would have. As in years past, the outreach-education booth (Figure 1) was housed within the Agriculture/Horticulture Building in the CFANS wing.  

A display of irrigation equipment and other turf-related items
Figure 1. UMN Turfgrass Research group booth display at the 2021 Minnesota State Fair.

In 2019, data was taken to determine some of the most popular questions from State Fairgoers. If you would like to read a recap of the full results, please read Commonly asked questions at the 2019 MN State Fair. To summarize, the top 5 topics were: managing turf in shady areas, weed management, bee lawns, irrigation sensors and fine fescues. To see if these popular topics change from year to year, similar data was collected throughout the 2021 State Fair (Figure 2).

a graph of topics asked at the state fair
Figure 2. The number of fair patrons who asked questions regarding the topics listed above. Miscellaneous topics included a variety of questions related to soil testing, aerification of lawns, how to fertilize and many others.

In total, just under 750 interactions were recorded and they often covered multiple topics. Compared to 2019, three topics continue to intrigue fairgoers in 2021: bee lawns, fine fescues, and weed management. To round out the top 5 topics of interest for 2021, two new topics emerged which were establishing a lawn from seed and drought.

Taking a step back and looking at the year 2021 as a whole, it has been a very dry year for Minnesota. As our data shows, this is reflected in the types of conversations we had while at the fair. Many people wanted to know how to manage their landscapes better during a drought. Others noticed that parts, or all of their lawn struggled and wanted to plant something new. Almost 20% of questions pertained to weeds which seemed to thrive this year compared to a typical turfgrass lawn. In all, we did our best to provide fairgoers with information to help them in the many circumstances they may find themselves.

If you are struggling with some of these issues, and weren’t able to make it fair to talk with us, we have created a webpage listing several resources related to some of the most commonly asked questions. We hope to speak with you next year at the Great Minnesota Get-Together!