Minneapolis artist pays tribute to Minnesota State Fair through paintings

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A Minneapolis artist is paying tribute to the Minnesota State Fair through watercolor paintings, depicting favorite memories of the fair.

"I was pretty sad when I heard it was canceled, so it didn’t take long for me to know I had to do something," said Sam Hiti, who goes by the artist name ‘Kickliy.’

He said he has gone to the State Fair every summer since he was born.

"Being here now, it’s 45 years in a row," Kickliy said. "I love this place. And I really wanted to bring honor to the state fairgrounds."

When the fair was canceled in May, he said he started painting some of his favorite State Fair scenes.

"The 4H building, Sweet Martha’s Cookies, the barn and the animals, the all-you-can-drink milk stand, foot-long hotdogs, it goes on and on," Kickliy said.

He said the paintings are inspired by the sights, sounds and smells of a "lifetime spent at the fair."

He completed more than 100 paintings and decided to make the top 80 into a book entitled, "Impressions of the State Fair: 2020."

"The State Fair book is a portrait of me, as well as every Minnesotan," Kickliy said.

Kickliy said the pages can take you on a full-day journey through the fairgrounds, from the bus ride there to the rides and games and vendors.

He even painted Television City, where KSTP does live broadcasts each night of the fair.

Kickliy is selling copies of the book, which he said is 100% Minnesota-made. It is being printed by Wallace Carlson Printing, a woman-owned, Minnetonka-based printing company founded in 1931. It is bound by Midwest Editions, Inc., a family-owned, Minneapolis-based binding company since 1970. The paper distribution is through Anchor Paper Company, a woman-run, employee share ownership company and landmark business of St. Paul.

Portions of the proceeds will go back to the fair’s 4-H programs.

"It stemmed from love. I wanted to do something very positive," Kickliy said.

He said the book can be a gift idea for family or friends who missed the fair this year or simply a way to reminisce about the beloved Minnesota tradition.

"I hope they feel the same things I did as I was making it," Kickliy said. "Joy. Joy and memories."

Kickliy will be at the Lift Bridge Brewery signing and selling copies of the book Friday, Sept. 4 from noon to three.

It can also be purchased online at a4mn.com.