From Across Minnesota, Teens Come to Work at the State Fair

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Madison Miller, East Ridge High School, Angry Birds Universe exhibit worker (left) meets Samuel Jeurissen, Lester Prairie High School, 4-H (right)

Where do you live, Samuel? 

Samuel: Four miles straight south of Lester Prairie on a dairy farm. 

How do you think  his typical day goes? 

Madison: He probably wakes up at 6:00 am to get the chickens ready.

It’s a dairy farm. 

Madison: Oh, sorry. Tend to the cows?

Samuel: I get up right about 6:00 am and get ready for school. I go to school, and I do weight lifting before school. And do the normal school business. And then when I get home, I go outside after dinner, and we milk cows, feed calves, a little bit of field work here and there. 

Madison: I get up a lot later than that. 

How is your commute to school different when there’s a snowstorm? 

Samuel: I snowmobiled to school once. 

Madison: That’s fun. 

Samuel: That was fun. That was great. 

Madison: I wish I could do things like that. 

Samuel: The plow doesn’t go down our road until 4:00 pm if it’s bad.

So, what do you do? 

Samuel: Pop it into four-wheel drive and hope for the best. 

Madison: Like a hundred people? 

Samuel: Around 25 to 30. 

How many people do you think are in Madison’s grade? 

Samuel: Couple hundred maybe. 

Madison: Four hundred. 

What do you think it’d be like to have 25–30 people in your whole grade? 

Madison: I feel I’d like it, but if something bad happens, someone will always have a grudge on you.  

Samuel: There’s a lot of drama that can be involved in this. 

Still, you mainly seem like a guy who enjoys Lester Prairie. 

Samuel: I love Lester Prairie; that’s the problem. 

That’s not a problem.  

Samuel: I’ve always thought, How do people do it in cities? 

Have you ever thought about the country?

Madison: I mean, well, your houses are a lot farther apart, so it could be hard to see friends. 

Samuel: This summer I didn’t see much of my friends; I was always working on the farm. Once in a while, we’d make a big bonfire and play night games.

Madison: Manhunt? Ghost in the Graveyard?

Samuel: Ghost in the Graveyard. 

Madison: Children of the Corn a little bit?

Samuel: You’ll  be driving the four-wheeler around at night, and then you just think about Children of the Corn and you’re like, “Oh, I’m going to go home now.” 

What do you think having 400 people in your grade is like? 

Samuel: In my eyes, that would be more challenging to make friends. And if I did move into the Cities, I feel like I’d be an outcast. I can’t say I’m different than everybody, but I’m a lot more country.

Madison: Honestly, my friend groups, you’d fit in. We don’t care where you come from. 

Samuel: I’m pretty flexible. If there’s somebody that I see that doesn’t have a friend or nobody likes him, I’ll go over and I’ll try to hang out with him because everybody’s got to have a friend. What’s life without friends? 

Do you know what she does here? 

Samuel: I heard she works at Angry Birds. 

What did you do for 4-H this year? 

Samuel: An engines project.

Madison: Did you do it by yourself?

Samuel: I did it mostly by myself. Of course, I don’t know everything about it—I like to think I know everything, but I really don’t. The engine hadn’t run for years. I replaced fuel lines, cleaned out the gas tank, cleaned out the carburetors, and then it ran. 

Madison: That’s crazy. And your engine is just in there? Can I check it out?

Nolan Hanson, Roseau High School, 4-H (right) meets Ryan Marrone, Highland Park Senior High School, ticket taker (left)

How long does it take you to get to Target? 

Nolan: Three hours. 

Ryan: Three minutes.

Crazy. 

Ryan: Yeah. 

How do you think Ryan’s daily routine is different than yours?

Nolan: I might mow a bigger lawn. 

How big? 

Nolan: About six acres. 

Ryan: I’ve hardly got a lawn to mow. 

How long do you think it takes to mow a six-acre lawn?

Ryan: A couple hours, I’d say. 

Nolan: About two and a half, three. 

What do you think Ryan does with all the time he’s not mowing his lawn? 

Nolan: He probably goes to Target.

Hangs out at Target? 

Nolan: You guys have a lot more stores; the sky’s the limit. 

What do you imagine would be nice about living in Roseau? 

Ryan: That you can just go outside and do whatever you want. I mean, working out would be so much fun. 

What do you think would be cool about living right in the middle of St. Paul? 

Nolan: All the stuff you could do. 

What’s your normal daily routine? 

Nolan: I have swine, so that means waking up early and feeding them, and then coming home, walking them, and feeding them again.

Ryan: I wake up, eat breakfast, play video games. 

Nolan: I get my pigs about March, and then that’s when I start waking up earlier.

We get told a lot about our differences—in this case people who live in the city versus those in the country. Do you feel that right now?

Ryan: I mean, if I’m walking down the street, I would’ve never known. There’s really no difference besides what we do on a daily basis.

Do you have any conception of where Roseau is in the state? 

Ryan: No. I’m guessing north. 

Describe where Roseau is. 

Nolan: Go to the Canadian border, go 10 miles down, and it’s right there. It’s next to that little bump and just to the west. 

What notable thing is made in Roseau? 

Nolan: Polaris. Polaris makes snowmobiles and  Rangers. The vehicles that you’ll see in the Vikings stadium are all Polaris .

Did you have any idea about that? 

Ryan: I did not know about that. 

Nolan: And then Marvin [the windows and doors company] is 20 minutes over from us. 

Obviously, you know where St. Paul is, but where is Highland Park? 

Nolan: I couldn’t drive you there or anything, but I’ve heard of it. 

Would you have any idea what would be around Highland Park?

Nolan: Buildings? 

What’s the reality of Highland Park? 

Ryan: It’s just houses a few miles out from downtown—just markets and houses.

When Ryan brings the garbage out, he only brings it probably—

Ryan: —about all of 20 feet. 

Nolan: I put mine on the back of a Ranger and drive it down. 

Ryan: Really? 

Jazmain Johnson, St. Paul Johnson Senior High School, ticket taker (right) meets Tamara Cadieux, Kittson Central High School, 4-H (left) 

What do you think Tamara’s daily life is like in Hallock?

Jazmain: I feel like she might wake up extra early—if she has to feed animals. 

Tamara: I don’t actually have any livestock, but I do wake up early because it’s like a 20-minute drive to school. We farm wheat, granola, flowers, sugar beans, soybeans. I just don’t do any of that. 

How do you get away with that?

Tamara: I’m actually allergic to grain dust. I get hot so my throat closes, so I can’t . My dad was upset about that, too. 

What do you think Jazmain’s day is like? 

Tamara: She doesn’t have to wake up super early because school isn’t super far. 

Jazmain: It all depends on where I am because my dad and my mom live in two different houses. If I’m at his house, it’s a 15-to-20-minute drive, but if I’m in my mom’s house, I walk because it’s a block away. And at my dad’s house, I usually do chores and then get ready and go to school. At my mom’s house, I have to do the same thing, but I also have to get my little sister up for school and I have to get her to school, which is a 10-minute drive.

Jazmain, do you think Tamara is going to stick around Hallock? 

Jazmain: Well, before this, we had a talk, and I feel like you might leave. 

Tamara: I’m definitely going to leave. I want to move here. Yeah. I want to get here and then keep going. 

How long do you think it takes Tamara to get home from the fair? 

Jazmain: It takes her an hour, two, three? 

Tamara: Six, seven hours. 

Did you know you could drive for six or seven hours from the Twin Cities and still be in this state? 

Jazmain: No, I didn’t, because I usually drive out of state. I travel a lot, so I’ve been in the car a lot. So I know your pain when you’re having to sit there in the car. 

How many people at Johnson are in her class? What’s your guess? 

Tamara: I’d say there’s 200 people.

Jazmain: It’s about 200, 250. 

How many people do you think are in her senior class? 

Jazmain: Well, she told me. I don’t remember the exact number, but 25 to 30. 

Tamara: It’s 21. 

What’s it like knowing literally everybody in your high school? 

Tamara: Kind of annoying. I’ve gone to school with them since preschool. We have the entire preschool through 12th grade in one building, and there’s 150 people. So your class is bigger than my school, and that’s including staff. 

Jazmain: There are some kids in my school that I went to elementary with, but then moved to different areas in St. Paul, went to different schools, and we lost contact. Then high school comes and you’re randomly back with the person from third grade. 

Tamara: At my school, I know your first, middle, last name; I know your parents’ first, middle, last names; I know their jobs; I know where you go at 4:00 pm. 

What do you imagine Jazmain’s mom’s house is like?

Tamara: I’d say it’s an average-sized yard and there’s maybe a residential—

Jazmain: I live a block away from my school. From my kitchen I can see the football field. 

You could probably hear games. 

Jazmain: On my roof, I can watch them. 

Is that what you imagined? 

Tamara: I mean, yeah. I didn’t think you actually—it didn’t come to me that you literally live that close to your school, but I mean, yeah. I can go 20-some days without seeing anybody other than my brother. 


*Interviews conducted and portraits taken for this story at the 2019 Minnesota State Fair.