FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. (KMSP) - The Minnesota State Fair has been drawing fans for nearly 160 years and one of those longtime fans still comes every day, bright and early, to volunteer at the Hamline Dining Hall.
The Ag Society gave Elaine Christiansen a lifetime membership and she has a nice parking pass that allows her to get very close.
She received the distinction after dedicating roughly 60 years of her life to the Hamline Dining Hall, starting on the board doing the finances and now prepping food in the kitchen. She is showing no signs of slowing down.
“It’s kind of exhilarating,” said Christiansen. “We’re just a group of lay people who have orchestrated a good business.”
It’s a business that’s been around for 121 years that holds onto tradition and exemplifies loyalty.
“We all get weary, but we also feel a remarkably satisfied feeling about our accomplishment,” Christiansen said.
You’ll find one of the most loyal people with a smiling face under a Hamline Dining Hall hat.
“Would you like a little sauce on it?” Christiansen asked a customer.
“I’m highly motivated,” she told Fox 9. “I really have a special privilege from the State Fair because of my longevity here on the fairgrounds.”
At 88 years old, she is in every day at 5 a.m. and is not out until the work is done.
“I am just darn glad that I can do it at my age,” she said.
For hours she’s on her feet, prepping pickles, cooling coleslaw and making sure customers and volunteers have everything they need.
“It’s never been a one or two person job,” she said. “It’s been a team effort.”
It’s a team she’s been a part of for nearly 60 years.
“What could be better to do with our time and energy than that?”
She has also helped build and shape the team, too.
“Isn’t it kind of fun to be part of the greatest fair in the country?” she asked, doing it all while wearing a smile and a hat.
“I like my hat,” she said of her signature style.
She says sometimes she leaves around noon, but other days the work can keep her until around 3 p.m.
Christiansen is one of 27 volunteers at Hamline Dining Hall who have been helping for more than 50 years.