Remodeled Farmers Union building at Minnesota State Fair focuses on volume, locally sourced food, education

August 27th, 2018
Remodeled Farmers Union building at Minnesota State Fair focuses on volume, locally sourced food, education

Barns and shed theme designed by CNH Architects with integrated Birchwood Café food truck, BLTs, new fruit cobbler, Nitro coffee, displays and videos to educate fairgoers about Minnesota’s $75 billion industry

A major remodeling at the Minnesota State Fair Farmers Union building by CNH Architects brings with it high hopes to educate more fairgoers about the $75 billion farming industry, while enjoying foods sourced from across the state. Thousands will sip on specialty coffees, delicious BLTs and a new cobbler dessert.

“They wanted to improve the serving area to serve more customers, maximizing the flow and reducing the amount of steps for servers,” explained Quinn Hutson, a principal with CNH Architects.  Galvanized metal countertops are reminiscent of dairy facilities, with recycled barnwood used as facing and barn and shed elements behind the counter to give an agricultural feel. There were numerous design decisions to make for a relatively small area.

Operating since the 1950s and perhaps best known in the past for its yardsticks, the Farmers Union is now more well known for coffee. It has chosen a new design integrated with a food truck and service provided by Birchwood Café in Minneapolis. “It’s a palace compared to the concession stands, an awesome facility,” said Project Coordinator Jimmy Layer with Birchwood.

Nitro and cold pressed coffees, frappes and as full-service hot coffee beverages sourced by JS Bean Factory in St. Paul have made this a first stop for fair participants, one that had lines well across the street in 2017, explains Layer. It’s located at 1635 Dan Patch Avenue, at the Corner of Cosgrove Street, near the traditional fair entrance off of Snelling Avenue.

“We are excited for our building to better serve fairgoers and connect them with those who grow their food,” said Minnesota Farmers Union President . “Part of the fair’s mission is to celebrate Minnesota agriculture, and we are doing our part to carry out that mission.”

One key element in that effort is a 16-foot Minnesota map showing the farms providing ingredients for the food served in the remodeled facility.. From Stony Creek Dairy in Melrose, west of the Twin Cities to 14 other food providers to its east, the map reads, “Standing For Agriculture, Working for Farmers.”

Four nitro coffee taps, two for cold press and two for lemonade are dramatically increasing capacity over 2017. For those waiting, or consuming product at high tables inside, large capacity building fans coupled with ceiling units will keep air flowing, Hutson explained.  New gray tile flooring under all LED lighting as well as a poured concrete deck with seating and tables have also changed the look and functionality. Lumber gates make up fencing along the outer perimeter with newly painted surfaces throughout. Additional improvements are also planned for 2019.

Senior Project Designer Al Tsai with CNH Architects said the project was fast moving, enjoyable and has high visibility along one of the fair’s busiest stretches. The high-quality work happened under a tight time schedule, he explained.

Hutson said he is impressed by the high quality, Minnesota-grown food and the farming education offered in the building.

CNH Architects is a creative, service-oriented firm that provides innovative design solutions for the commercial building and retail areas, public sector clients, such as cities, counties and states, and vehicle facility projects, day care and animal care facilities.  CNH has served clients in the Twin Cities and Upper Midwest for almost 50 years.