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Off the Editor’s Desk – 8-14-2013


For almost twenty years I have been one of more than a hundred individuals that have volunteered at the Minnesota Letterpress Museum. The museum has been part of the Minnesota State Fair for the past 25 years.

 The museum prints a daily newspaper each day of the 12-day run of the state fair. It features letterpress equipment and is a working replica of a small town newspaper from the early part of the last century. I grew up with this type of letterpress equipment and much of what is at the museum was in our office in Colfax and in Glenwood City and also in weekly newspapers throughout the nation. In the 1960s and 70s the technology of printing changed and today the process is called offset printing and the computer controls all the material right up to the printing press.

I looked forward to the state fair and volunteering to print with letterpress equipment which allows visitors an opportunity to see how a newspaper was printed years ago. Since it opened 25 years ago, more than a million visitors have passed through the doors of the museum in the Heritage Square area of the fairgrounds.

I have had the honor of being on the operating committee of the museum for several years and had the great honor of being named publisher of the newspaper last year. This year the honor falls to Gene Johnson, owner of several weekly newspapers including the Amery Free Press.

Authentic in detail to a small weekly newspaper of 75 years ago, the museum holds the contents of the actual “Maynard News” which operated in Maynard, Minnesota, for most of the town’s 100 plus years. Additional printing equipment has been donated including a 1903 Linotype that was in the newspaper office in Glenwood City.

Now the bad news. The Minnesota Newspaper Foundation, which owns and oversees the operation of the museum, was informed on July 24 that the Minnesota State Fair plans to raze Heritage Square and revamp the area into a transportation hub.

That project will mean that the Minnesota Newspaper Museum that has been part of the Heritage Square since 1987 will need to be moved or razed. Cost to move the present brick building to another location on the fairgrounds could run as high as $80,000. Funds, that are not available to the Foundation. The foundation has stated that unless the museum stays at the State Fair, it is not feasible for the foundation to continue its operation of the museum.

So, at this point in time, it appears that this year’s fair will mark the end of the museum. If you would like to view the old printing equipment, I would suggest that you come to the Minnesota State Fair, which opens on Thursday, August 22 and runs through Labor Day.

I will be at the museum each afternoon, except on Monday and Tuesday, August 26 and 27. So come and see how we printed a newspaper years ago. Bring the kids.

Thanks for reading.

— Carlton