On olden pond: DNR mainstay again helps kick off Great Minnesota Get-Together

Fair-goers young and old converged on the DNR fish pond last year. (Photo by Brian Peterson)

The fish are in the pond. Let the games begin.

The Outdoor fish pond – and indoor fish tanks – at the DNR’s Minnesota State Fair exhibit were stocked Wednesday morning, an unofficial kickoff to the the Great Minnesota Get-together for many fair-goers.

The DNR’s live fish exhibit – on the south side of DNR building at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, 1740 Carnes Ave. – is one of the State Fair’s most popular attractions, boasting about every fish species found in Minnesota waters, or more than 40 species in all, from sunfish to sturgeon. The fair kicks off Thursday, Aug. 23 and runs through Labor Day, Sept. 3.

The fish pond is approximately 100 feet by 50 feet and holds up to 50,000 gallons and will serve as a backdrop for daily fish pond talks, scheduled at a quarter to the hour, from 9:45 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Again this year, the DNR features a live fish cam on its site starting the Wednesday before the fair (see below).

Nearby, in the main DNR building, are five large aquariums, with each showing fish in their native Minnesota habitat (trout of southeastern Minnesota, fish of the St. Croix River, and species of central, southern and northern Minnesota lakes). Those fish may be viewed daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Started in 1905, the State Fair’s first live fish exhibit used aquariums purchased from the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. One of the most popular fish with fairgoers has been the paddlefish. Characterized by their long, paddle-like bill, paddlefish are found in the St. Croix River and in the lower Mississippi River below Minneapolis. Paddlefish grow to be quite large, with fish up to 200 pounds being recorded.

The largest fish in the exhibit is the lake sturgeon, which exceeds 50 inches. A State Fair veteran, this specimen was the gift of an angler who harvested it legally from the St. Croix River several years ago. Lake sturgeon in the state are found in the Minnesota, Mississippi, St. Croix and Rainy river systems. The largest sturgeon reported in Minnesota was a 215-pound fish found dead along the shore of Lake of the Woods in the early part of the 20th century.

For a complete schedule of DNR-related events during the fair, click here. This year’s DNR State Fair theme is “Public lands, owned by you, managed by DNR.”

Categories: Minnesota Videos, Nature, News

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