MINOT, N.D. (KXNET) — Have you ever met a person who quite literally has 300,000 friends? If not, meet Renae Korslien — the Manager of the North Dakota State Fair.
Through this Remarkable Woman’s dedication and passion, thousands of people walk through the gates of the State Fairgrounds every July. And she welcomes each and every one of them with open arms.
“Many people say, oh I love to come to the State Fair and go to the concerts and run into my friends from college, or high school, or years back,” stated Korslien. “It’s so good, so fun. It is about community, and it’s about the wonderful state that we live in, and the wonderful people we get to connect with.”
Her love for the State Fair began as a little girl growing up in Newburg, North Dakota. But over time, the annual event she had always dreamt of being a part of as a child became her full-time career — and has been so for nearly half a century.
“Our father would bring brings us, he loved the fair,” Korslien explained. “We always got to come to the big State Fair in Minot. That was one day we would travel to Minot early in the morning,”
Over her 50 years, she received countless awards and has been recognized for her outstanding leadership. Korslien was recently awarded the highest recognition a State Fair leader can receive: being inducted into the International Association of Fairs and Expos Hall of Fame. But, as she stood in front of her trophies, she refused to take credit.
“I get to be a part of their team,” she stated. “That’s the best part of this job. Yes, as a leader. But I hope everyone on this team, and I mean team all the way through — everyone that works here, whether it’s outside or inside, or no matter what they do. They all have to be just as important as I am.”
Her staff, and her right-hand man Craig Rudland, have created a bond together that can never be broken. That family bond truly came to fruition when the 2011 flood-hit Minot.
“We had to spring into action,” she explained. “And we had to get dykes built, and we had to get people safe, and we had to get things canceled. Once the fair was canceled, it was Craig that held me up. He was our rock.”
Through good times and bad, celebrations and struggles, she and her team have always persevered. And they do it for each and every North Dakotan.
“People. And it really is. Even the job, it’s the challenge that we can make people happy for coming here,” said Korslien.
When you walk down the midway, with a corndog in hand, and smiles all around you, you know it’s truly summer. So, as you sing along to your favorite country artist in the grandstand, or your children are smiling ear to ear on the Ferris wheel, know it’s Renae Korslien’s magic that makes the fairground such a special place — and that is the sign of a woman who is truly remarkable.