Minnesota Inventors Congress is June 8-10
By Janet Kubat Willette
REDWOOD FALLS, Minn. — What do the original pop-up camper, shopping cart, Life on the Farm board game and the grain grabber have in common?
All have been exhibited at Minnesota Inventors Congress, set for its 50th annual run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 8 through 10 in Redwood Falls. It is open to the public.
The show started in 1958, said Deb Hess, Minnesota Inventors Congress executive director. Its purpose, then and now, is to "give inventors an opportunity to show their ideas to those who may want to finance, manufacture, market or purchase new products," Hess said, reading from a June 5, 1958, Redwood Gazette newspaper clipping.
Carl Beireis, event president in 1958, was quoted as saying the event could become annual if it was successful.
Many of the challenges and issues have stayed the same since the invention convention began, Hess said, but the convention has made some changes through the years.
The Inventors Congress moved from the fairgrounds to the Redwood Area Community Center, offering a different atmosphere.
A gift shop, open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. all three days of the show, carries products from exhibitors. Inventors who have market-ready products can sell them in the gift shop, Hess said.
She doesn’t disclose the number of inventors signed up, but last year there were inventors from many states, including: Minnesota, South Dakota, California, Wisconsin, Texas, Iowa, North Dakota, North Carolina, Arizona, Utah, Oklahoma, Missouri and Pennsylvania.
Inventions displayed include household, medical, personal, food, sports and recreation and tools. Tools is a growing category, Hess said.
Education has always been a component of the Inventors Congress, but now the seminars are open to anyone interested, not just exhibitors. Hess works with inventors year-round, providing education for people who have an idea, but no idea what to do next.
Minnesota Inventors Congress will mark the occasion of the 50th annual run with a display of past inventions. The awards ceremony will also be extra special, Hess said.
Andras Vedres, president of the International Federation of Inventors Association based in Budapest, Hungary, will be presenting awards and exhibitor recognition at the banquet.
Minnesota Inventors Congress is the first U.S. member of the international organization, Hess said.
Harold Fratzke of Cottonwood, who has exhibited 16 times in the past, will be there for the 50th event. He is best known for exhibiting the original roto chopper, Hess said. Founding board member Robert Starr will also be involved.