If you’ve ever made your way through the crowd up to the counter at the Midway Men’s Club, your order is simple: cheeseburger. When one of the MMC volunteers hands you a perfectly hot steamed burger wrapped in paper and you hand them a few bucks, the transaction is nothing short of miraculous—and not just because of that absurdly low price. Part of the miracle is that MMC’s burger is a fundraiser for all the neighborhood youth programs that the club runs on the East Side of St. Paul. Since 1960, the fair’s fueled these charitable initiatives.
And Midway isn’t the only one using those 12 days of raising funds for doing good. The Hamline Dining Hall, started by a group of church women in 1897, is the oldest concession at the fair. Each year, they select a few charitable organizations to receive a portion of the hall’s proceeds. Yep, via the power of Hamloaf, over the years, the Hamline’s supported Emma Norton Services, The Sheridan Story, and Feed My Starving Children, to name a few.
When the Salem Lutheran Church Dining Hall opens up for service at 7 am, there’s always a line waiting for the Swedish egg coffee and a sturdy breakfast. For some 70 years, the stand has served as outreach for the north Minneapolis church, and its dining room is staffed by volunteer youth members who gain experience and training for future jobs. Hospitality is a big part of the church, which welcomes all. Salem Lutheran’s fair stand helps extend that hospitality into the community, as part of the proceeds help fund weekly free meals for all throughout the rest of the year.