Black Vendors Offer Alternative to the MN State Fair

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The Black Entrepreneur State Fair is designed to support Black businesses. This year's opening drew over 2000 attendees with bouncy houses, 70 vendors, and live entertainment outside Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis. Feven Gerezgiher reports


Feven Gerezgiher reports:

While many celebrate the opening of the Minnesota State Fair this week, people like Isaac Kamsin are sticking to the all black atmosphere across the river at the Black Entrepreneur State Fair.

“I like the idea that this is black-owned,” said Kamsin. “I like to see the diversity of businesses here. You have food, you have apparel… And also just seeing the state coming out here, supporting it with some housing stuff. I think that’s really cool. Good concentration of talent and businesses.”

Co-organizer Keandrea Shelby said the fair started last year as a way to support Black businesses at a time when everything was closed. This year, she said the fair drew over 2000 attendees to its opening, with bouncy houses, 70 vendors, and live entertainment outside Midtown Global Market.

Racial justice advocates have criticized the Minnesota State Fair in recent years for having a disproportionate number of white vendors relative to the state’s population. General Manager Jerry Hammer said the Minnesota State Fair is working to streamline the vendor selection process. The Fair is also gathering data to create a baseline for future diversity work.

At the Black Entrepreneur State Fair, vendors like horticulturalists Shontay Evans appreciate that Black dollars are circulating within the community.

“I’ve been doing my business for two years and this is one of the biggest events I’ve ever done. I’m really happy to be a part of it because seeing all these Black people out here doing our thing is really happy and humbling,” she said.

The Black Entrepreneur State Fair is also launching a girls mentorship program and a back-to-school drive. Visitors can donate new backpacks for entry through the end of the fair this Saturday.

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