Fair Hounds: Fair ware hawkers are carnival charactersby Molly Bloom, Minnesota Public Radio
Falcon Heights, Minn. — Robert Garfinkle develops programs and exhibits for the Science Museum of Minnesota, and as someone who thinks about how to engage an audience, he appreciates the kitchenware sellers who set up shop through the fairgrounds.
To Garfinkle, these salesmen are the essence of the fair.
"The fair has always been about commerce. It was created along this basis to promote Minnesota industry, but it's also about having fun and expressing Midwestern Minnesota values," Garfinkle said. "I think the knife guys and the others make this great combination of homespun entrepreneurial inventiveness."
He loves how the vendors use jokes to draw people in.
"As someone who does exhibits, one thing I've learned at the fair is to always keep a sense of humor. That's what engages people," Garfinkle said. "I love that combination of Harold Hill and P.T. Barnum — It's great schtick."
He's learned to resist their pitches, but not before going home with a few sets of knives and gadgets himself.
- All Things Considered, 08/30/2011, 4:55 p.m.