Canvas Craft Inc. Otsego, MN
Producer: Serge Ferrari North America Inc.
Supplier: Serge Ferrari North America Inc.
Engineer Name 1
Engineer Company 1
Wayne Rendely P.E.
Canvas Craft Inc
Canvas Craft Inc
Canvas Craft Inc
Please describe the project specifications
For many, a trip to the fair would not be complete without a free show and the thunderous applause of the crowd. Throw in a corn dog while you watch, and the experience is unmatched.
At the Minnesota State Fair, visitors can catch comedy, music, storytelling, feats of strength, magic, juggling, tap dancing, yodeling and more throughout the 12-day fair. In 2016, over 1.9 million people visited the Great Minnesota Get Together, and saw 100 acts perform in over 900 free shows across the fairgrounds. Dozens of those shows were held at the Baldwin Family Stage. A 40' x 60' permanent structure created to protect and enhance various acts during the Fair.
What was the purpose of this project? What did the client request?
Step Right Up (and Stay A While)
For years, fairgoers visited the Baldwin Stage and either toughed it out under August skies (harsh sun, drizzly rain), or crowded together under scant tree cover at the far reaches of the outdoor seats. Recently, fair organizers sought to bring the audience closer to the performance - giving them cover to stay longer, see more shows, and maybe visit the corn dog stand one more time while waiting for the next act to appear. Performers, too, though covered while performing on the old Baldwin Stage, imagined a bit more flair. In the chosen design, planners signaled that this would be no second rate stage, but an emerging, even iconic, venue with a signature look not unlike Radio City or the Hollywood Bowl. The performing acts here would showcase the region’s best and most accessible talent; the venue, then, must likewise dazzle. And ensure the comfort of fans so they would be likely to return, year after year, and show after show.
What is unique or complex about the project?
An Artistic “Before” and “After”
Designers at Cunningham Group made meaning from the fair organizer’s intent to evolve. Inspired by the theme of “metamorphosis,” Cunningham envisioned a band shell enclosure resembling the shape and articulation of a caterpillar.
The accompanying shade sails take flight - enclosing the audience like the wings of an enormous, golden butterfly. This dramatic transformation of art into meaning was likewise
realized in choosing construction materials that would weather the
seasonal transition from the hot sun of summer, to the ice and snow
of Minnesota’s winter. State Fair organizers wanted the structure and
fabric coverings at the Baldwin Stage to remain in place year round, so it’s construction would need to be sturdy and retain its flair, despite the elements. Matt Franta of Canvas Craft, the Minnesota company that fabricated and installed both the articulated white bands of the stage and the taut yellow sails above the amphitheater’s seats, says that using fabric and metal offered flexibility and creativity in covering each space. Using a fabric from Serge Ferrari called TX30 Type III which has a 30-year life expectancy was a significant opportunity. Franta observes, “Fabric technology has changed and the fabrics last longer now. Fabric as a building material makes for interesting shapes and color. We can create structures to protect people and places that are eye-catching, flexible, and tough.”
What were the results of the project?
The Shade’s the Thing
And what about shade? Why is it often a secondary idea or budget item? Franta has
a thought about that, too, “We’re just not there yet, but sun protection is driving design and functionality more than ever. And sometimes, in Minnesota, projects are planned
in the darkness and cold of January, when planners aren’t necessarily in a
sunshine state of mind.” At the re-imagined Baldwin Stage, the talent and fans alike are in a
“sunshine state of mind” as they revel in the newly created shade. Enjoying
a range of entertainment is an annual tradition at the Minnesota State Fair. That technology and design are driving visitor satisfaction should not be undervalued. Says Franta, “Shade draws people in. In fact, it makes the show.”
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