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What is the allure of Ye Old Mill?

Whether it's nostalgia and tradition or a calm escape from the chaos and heat of the fair, the attraction remains popular after 108 years.

FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. — If there is one attraction at the Minnesota State Fair that attracts the oldest and the youngest fairgoers -- and everyone in between - it's Ye Old Mill.

What may remind some of the homemade version of "It's a Small World," the whimsical boat ride highlighted by four kitschy vignettes has been a draw since 1915.

The Keenan family sold Ye Old Mill to the State Fair in 2018, after operating it for four generations. While putting money into renovations - the fair's goal was to make it feel the same.

"It's just one of those traditions we were very excited to have and keep on going," said Keri Huber, archivist for the MN State Fair.

The State Fair is usually hot, sunny, and loud - while the nearly five-minute ride is none of those things.

"It's nice and cool when it's hot and it's fun. And dark. And quiet," one rider said.

The old wooden boats are now made of fiberglass. The vignettes are subtly retouched. But the experience by and large has not changed.

"My parents have been going since they were like 19 years old so it's like a tradition they gave me to me and I gave to them," another rider said.

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