St. Thomas Newsroom

Tommie Traditions: Purple Bags at the State Fair

Doug Hennes, Vice President for Government Relations and Special Projects, hands out purple bags at the University of St. Thomas booth in the Education Building at the 2016 Minnesota State Fair on August 25, 2016.

For more than a decade purple bags from the University of St. Thomas booth have been ubiquitous at the Minnesota State Fair. Designs and materials have changed over the years, but one thing has remained the same: People love getting their hands on a purple bag.

“We didn’t know until we arrived that the St. Thomas bags were the hottest giveaway at the fair, ” wrote a volunteer after the first giveaway in 2005. “People were so excited to get them and so many people shared that they went to St. Thomas, their children did or were going to, or even that their grandparents went there. It was great fun to see all the excited people.”

That excitement has continued in recent years as giveaway numbers swelled to as many as 100,000 in 2008 before scaling down in recent years. This year’s iteration promises to breathe new life into the purple bag tradition with a different “State Fair Sin” for each of the 12 days.

This year’s bags feature a different “State Fair Sin” for each of the fair’s 12 days.

“It was really about how we could find clever avenues to make them humorous but not over the top,” said Pete Winecke, St. Thomas’ creative director. “It was an opportunity to get a branding message out in a unique way, in a unique venue, in a place we know the purple bags are in demand.”

Some 18,000 bags will be given away this year, handed out by volunteers representing different areas of the university. St. Thomas will be stationed under its signature Arches in the Education Building on Cosgrove Street, and specific programs and offices will be highlighted each day. Those include:

Thursday, Aug. 24: College of Arts and Sciences

Friday, Aug. 25: Alumni Association with President Julie Sullivan and Tommie

Saturday, Aug. 26: School of Engineering

Sunday, Aug. 27: Student Affairs and Tommie Athletics

Monday, Aug. 28: Selim Center for Lifelong Learning

Tuesday, Aug. 29: School of Social Work

Wednesday, Aug 30: Global Learning & Strategy

Thursday, Aug. 31: School of Law

Friday, Sept. 1: Opus College of Business

Monday, Sept. 4: College of Education, Leadership and Counseling

Bag giveaways will begin at 9 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Visitors are encouraged to stop by the booth early for a chance at getting a tote bag.

In addition to visiting the booth, fair goers can share their St. Thomas state fair experience with their friends on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter by snapping photos of themselves with their purple “State Fair Sins” bags at the booth and around the fair and sharing their photos using the hashtags #TommiesattheFair and #StateFairSins.