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Crop Art Rules

A discussion of the rules of the Minnesota State Fair Crop Art exhibit written by David Steinlicht in 2014, and not endorsed or approved by the Minnesota State Fair. For the official rules, go to www.mnstatefair.org/competitions/ag-hort-bee/crop-art-and-scarecrow. The Fair usually posts guidelines for the upcoming competition in the spring of each year. If you still have questions after reading the current rules on the Fair website, you can direct questions to competition@mnstatefair.org.

Amateur, Advanced Amateur and Lots

The Crop Art exhibit is divided into two general areas -- "Amateur" and "Advanced Amateur." Both of these areas are subdivided into categories or "Lots."

What's the difference between Amateur and Advanced? As of 2023, an Amateur has to win three blue ribbons or have won the Sweepstakes award for classes 1-16 to be able to compete in the Advanced lots.

Lots of Crop Art

The Amateur and Advanced Amateur areas have the same categories or Lots. For example, there is a "Special occasion commemorative" Amateur Lot and an "Special occasion commemorative" Advanced Amateur Lot.

Odd numbers are for Amateur and even numbers are for Advanced Amateur. There are many different Lots in the Crop Art exhibit. Here are some of the Lots:

Lots 1 and 2:
Natural colors, no paint allowed
All seeds, nothing else. This is usually the category with the most entries. No "irregular" forms. Usually that means the crop art should be square or rectangular.

Lots 3 and 4:
Paint allowed on 30 percent of the art
Seeds can be dyed or painted. Backgrounds can be painted.

Lots 5 and 6:
Irregularly-shaped, can be three-dimensional
These can be cut-outs or sculptures -- as long as they are covered with seeds. Paint is allowed in this Lot.

Lots 7 and 8:
Flat surface arrangements
Using dried plant matter over 70 percent of the surface. The background (up to 30 percent of the surface) can be painted.

Lots 9 and 10:
Dried leaves and fruiting structures allowed
These can be cut-outs or sculptures -- as long as they are covered with seeds. Paint is not allowed in this Lot.

Lots 11 and 12:
Special occasion commemorative
This is a very flexible category. Entries can commemorate a national holiday or someone's birthday, or a child's birth announcement. There were a couple Halloween commemorations in 1999. There have been Fourth of July commemorations. Lincoln's birthday is also a popular commemorative subject.

Lots 13 and 14:
Seed and plant craft objects
Three dimensional objects made of or covered in plant material. Corn shuck dolls, rattan ornaments, rattan bells, straw baskets. Can be natural color, dyed or painted.

Lots 15 and 16:
Wearable crop art
Jewelry or clothing. Can be natural color, dyed or painted.

You can enter as many Lots as you like, but you are allowed only one entry per Lot. Some Crop Artists enter as many as four or more categories.

There is also a "Novice" Lot for first-timers, a "Junior" Lot for kids aged 12-and-under, a "Senior" Lot for those 60-and-older, and an "Out-of-State Residents" Lot. For these categories, the entries can include almost anything included in the other categories. Paint, dried plants, irregularly shaped surfaces.

Maximum dimensions for entries is 24 x 40 inches or 30 inches in diameter.

There is no entry fee for the Crop Art competition.


There are many ribbons awarded. Not all places are awarded in each Lot.

  • First place: Blue
  • Second place: Red
  • Third place: White
  • Fourth place: Yellow
  • Fifth place: Pink
  • Merit award: Pink
  • Best of Show: Purple

A Purple ribbon and a plaque is awarded to the Champion -- the best Crop Art of the show -- usually the winner is from the Advanced Amateurs division, although an Amateur can win it. Another Purple ribbon goes to the Reserve Champion. A sweepstakes winner -- the person with the most high ribbons in the most categories in the Crop Art show -- is also awarded a Purple ribbon and a plaque.

"What are those?"

All Crop Art entries must have a 4 x 6-inch legend card attached. All seeds used must be listed with a seed sample. That way Crop Art judges and viewers can tell what each picture is made of.

The real rules

The information in this article is condensed and adapted from the official Crop Art rules. You should get the real deal by reading the Ag-Hort-Bee Rules and Premiums. They are updated and posted online in early May for the August Minnesota State Fair.

The the rule book is available as a PDF in the Ag-Hort-Bee section of the State Fair's web site at www.mnstatefair.org. It used to be available in paper form, but -- well, you're reading THIS on the Internet, aren't you?

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