People's Fair logo

This is Backstage. A newsletter designed and produced by People's Fair committee member, Molly Batcher. For the first time in 25 years, people can now understand the effort that goes into the "third weekend in May", it's history, notes from the chairman and trivia from our spring ritual!

Scenes from the 25th People's Fair

The 25th Annual People Fair featured the likes of two national recording artists: The Freddy Jones Band and Martin Zellar, blues legend Eddie Shaw and the Wolf Gang, local favorites Howard's Hair, the Divers, City mouse, and regional acts: Mick Sterling and the Stud Brothers, Solid Senders, and the Hoopsnakes. Along with the music, there was a varity of craft and food vendors.

People's Fair is a non-profit event with the proceeds benefiting Eclipse and The Volunteer Center. Last year (1995), People's Fair was able to donate $20,000 to each organization.

Volunteers are a big part of People's Fair. The event wouldn't be possible without the 120+ volunteers who put in 1,450 hours.

This past year (1995), the People's Fair committee was recognized with a JC Penny Golden Rule Award for volunteerism. Although People's Fair is only one weekend, the impact is felt all year long.

The People's Fair Evolution by Paul Horrisberger (23 years) People's Fair Historian

The first People's Fair was organized by the Eclipse Crisis Center in 1971 as an event to bring Eclipse clients and the community together, and to bring about a general awareness of the Eclipse Program.

The first People's Fair took place on the lower campus athletic field of Mankato State College, just south of Old Main Village where Cherry Street now cuts between Glenwood and South 5th St.. Musicians and crafts people just showed up to perform and display their wares.

After the first year, the event moved to Sibley Park and took place in the vicinity of where the craft area is now, with the bandshell set-up on the grass between the trees and the ball diamond. The music part of the People's Fair moved to the sliding hill area a year or two later.

The first People's Fairs were one day events held on Saturday and included local rock, blues, and folk groups. Also. the Mankato State College Reporter Annual Raft Race (R5 - Rapidan Rubberized Regatta Raft Race), which coincided with, but, was not planned in conjunction with People's Fair, ended at the Sibley Park site during the 70's.
In 1978, People's Fair became a two-day event, with Bluegrass day on Sundays which included a fiddle contest for eight years. In the mid-to-late 80's, People's Fair Sundays evolved to a day of blues, rock, folk and country rock music. Saturday generally includes more of the alternative rock and blues bands today.

The first People's Fairs were run by a few people, until the early 1980's when the Mankato Jaycee's and the Jaycee Women became more heavily involved. Out of that came the present day People's Fair Committee.

People's Fair presently is still a major contributor to the Eclipse Crisis Line, which over the years has com to rely on the event for it's existence. Another program the People's Fair has adopted is the Volunteer Center, a clearinghouse for volunteerism for programs and agencies in the Mankato, and North Mankato area, which rely on volunteers to provide their services. $20,000 was donated to each of these programs from the proceeds of the 25th Annual People's Fair.

Notes from the chair... by
Dick Dietz (7 years) People's Fair Committee Chairperson

WOW! What a year! The committee wanted the 25th to be the biggest and best and I think we even surpassed our wildest dreams. Who would have thought that, 25 years ago a little "Woodstock-like" event on the MSU's Lower Campus football field would lead to Mankato's longest-running fund-raiser.

I know many people in our community have the perception that it's a big party thrown annually on the third weekend in May. There's no denying that some people plan things in and around our event. The People's Fair committee's main focus has always been to raise money for Eclipse, and now the Volunteer Center.

Estimates over the last 25 years have put the funds raised for Eclipse alone at around $175,000. When you add in the other benefactors of our weekends, the total is well over $200,000.

I've had phone calls from individuals from Alaska to Maine wanting to confirm the dates of People's Fair. They've told me that it becomes an annual unofficial reunion for them and their Mankato State friends. Last year, because of the caliber of our music acts, several groups came from Chicago, Mpls.-St.Paul, Austin, Sioux Falls, to enjoy our hospitality. People's Fair brings people into our community!

Over the years, our celebration has always supported our local artisans. Whether it's a crafter displaying their creations under the trees or a local band having their moment on stage, People's Fair has been the premier event for them. We've had bluegrass, folk, country, and rock acts on our stages, most of them local.

As society and tastes change "the Fair" has changed, so has the committee. We've gone from a couple of people doing everything, to a committee of 25, meeting monthly to prepare for next year. We are a broad cross-section of the area, from business owners, to bankers, teachers, college students, government workers and others volunteering their time to make People's Fair work. The dedication of these individuals is incredible. This year alone, we had six former committee members return to work on that weekend. They traveled from the Twin Cities, Iowa City, Sioux City, Brookings and Rochester to be here. Nobody asked them to, they volunteered! That's the secret of People's Fair . . . dedicated volunteers!

It's not only the committee members, but the people and groups that help us that weekend. If it wasn't for you, People's Fair wouldn't have happened, and with your continued support the future looks even brighter. So, for past and the present People's Fair committees, to the thousands of volunteers that have helped us . . . Thank You!

Facts, Facts, and more Facts ... What you wanted to know about producing the 25th Annual People's Fair (and probably some stuff you didn't really care about).

Money Raised -
Attendance -
Total Volunteers needed -
Number of Volunteers worked -
Setup Hours -

Tear Down -

Total Volunteer manhours -

200 for a 4 hr. shift
11.5 Friday
4 Saturday
5 Sunday
4 Monday

Donations to Eclipse -
Volunteer Ctr. -
Camp Fire Girls -


Cost to produce the weekend
The "free" buses cost -
Donations to offset the cost -
Bands cost
$18,750 (70% of cost for 2 bands)
Stage cost
$6,775 (sound, stage, covering)

10,000 Watt Stereo sound system
500' + of cabling
10 monitor speakers
32 channel monitor mix
32 channel house mix
Stage Size - 32' x 40' x 4'
Speaker wings - 8' x 8' x 4'
Drum riser - 12' x 12' x '1
Cover size - 74' X 86'
Weight (w/o stakes) - 3,400 lbs.

15% of food concessions goes to People's Fair
All craft registrations go to People's Fair

Mark your calendars now....
The 30th Annual

May 20 and 21, 2000
Meet you on the hill!

Revised on:09/01/00