Learn from Garden Pros at The Dirt Stage

By Rick Juliusson, MSHS executive director

As a child, the State Fair was always a jumble of food, rides, shows and baby animals—more an amusement park than an exhibition. But my older and wiser self appreciates the many opportunities to learn at the Minnesota State Fair.

dirt stage entrance

Look for the big Dirt sign to find the hort society booth and the Dirt Stage talks.

In addition to our popular educational displays, for several years now MSHS has coordinated the speaker series on the Dirt Stage, located in the Agriculture Horticulture Building right near the exit and entrance to the Skyride.  I’ll be at our booth almost every day, from which I can enjoy free speakers every day on the hour between about 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Here’s the full schedule.

The speakers are garden pros and they are not selling anything (except perhaps a book if you want more references to take home). They are just sharing their deep expertise in gardening, from straw bale growing with former board member Joel Karsten to composting, mushrooms, tree trimming, monarchs, moon gardens, corn, tomato disease, gladiolas, pumpkins … the list goes on and on. A few fun titles that intrigue me:

  • “Growing Giants Extreme Gardening!”
  • “Turning Beer Into Food in Partnership with The Food Group”
  • “Backyard Heroes: How to be a Habitat Hero at Home!”

And last but not least, “Gardening through the Pandemic: How the MN State Horticultural Society has Grown to Meet New Community Needs.” I’ll be sharing our recent growth and our new strategic plan on Sunday, Aug. 29, and Saturday, Sept. 4, at 4 p.m..  We’ll do our best to broadcast it on Facebook Live or record it and post it on the website.

So, if you’re choosing to attend State Fair in person this year, please stop by our booth to say hi, then pop over to the Dirt Stage next door to take advantage of free, in-depth advice from true experts in our field.  Again, here’s the schedule so you can strategically pick up your root beer and cookie bucket in time to catch just the right topic to spark your next creative garden project.


  1. Maurice Spangler on August 27, 2021 at 11:12 am

    Sounds like a great lineup at the Dirt Stage. Wish we could be there but we’re foregoing the Fair this year because of Covid concerns. In our county that is only 40 % vaccinated, we’re wearing masks again when we go into stores. We’re concerned about the increased infectivity of the delta variant and would not enjoy being in massive crowds at the Fair. Hope you all stay safe. Up here we’re working on developing pollinator gardens throughout town with the local SWCD people–our church will have one of the first ones, visible along one of the main highways here. I’ve developed a beautiful perennial, herb and vegetable garden at one of our local restaurants with great help from the owner. We’ve had lots of bumblebees and other bees visiting, along with restaurant patrons. Will soon be preparing the soil for next year. Love the MSHS. Love the recent rains. Take care. Maurice Spangler

    • Mary Lahr Schier on August 31, 2021 at 2:25 am

      Thanks for your comment, Maurice, and for the work you and your church are doing to support pollinators!

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