RED WING SHOES. The gigantic size 638 ½ boot at the Red Wing Shoes flagship store may be pure novelty, but upstairs in the free museum you can learn how the company’s founders started to make serious footwear for America’s loggers, miners and farmers in 1905—long before it became a fashion statement. Kids can
dress up like tradesmen and pretend to walk along skyscraper beams. Check out the basement for deals, and
don’t forget to ask about summer factory tours.
RED WING POTTERY. The iconic red wing symbol can be seen all over this southern Minnesota town, and
it’s hand-painted on many of Red Wing Stoneware’s crocks, jugs, mugs, plates and bowls. Red Wing Pottery
Stoneware Company, four miles west of downtown, has weekday tours, viewing windows of the production
area, and a factory store with a variety of products.
FARIBAULT WOOLEN MILL. While Red Wing made boots for World War II soldiers, Faribault Woolen Mill
kept them warm with blankets they’ve been producing since 1865. Production peaked in the 1960s and ’70s
when the company made about half of America’s blankets. Today, the on-site store includes some historical
exhibits alongside the fabulous merchandise. Call to check on once-a-week factory tours.
SPAM. These infamous cans of spiced pork were introduced as a convenient lunchmeat in 1937, and by World
War II, Minnesota’s Hormel meat company shipped more than 100 million pounds of SPAM to troops. The
product continues to draw a cult following with its famous name and a boost from “Monty Python” in the 1970s,
spoofing the name and inspiring “spam” as the term for junk emails. Test your SPAM IQ and learn about its international popularity at Austin’s family-friendly museum, which opens in a new downtown location this year.
GENERAL MILLS. Homages to this packaged food empire are as plentiful as the Jolly Green Giant is tall.
Learn the full history of the Green Giant Co., which started in 1903, at the Le Sueur Museum and the Giant
Museum in Blue Earth, also home to a 55-foot statue in his likeness. For an in-depth look at its former parent
company, General Mills, the Mill City Museum in Minneapolis is built into the ruins of an old flour mill, blending
historical character and high-tech exhibits. Don’t miss the narrated elevator ride and interpretive signs along the
DULUTH PACK. Since 1882, this company has been building sturdy canvas and leather packs ideal for portaging and paddling the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Besides its spacious Canal Park storefront,
the company has expanded its line (and its cool factor), teaming up with Faribault Woolen Mill for a double-dose
of Minnesota craftsmanship. Visitors can call ahead to set up a factory tour Monday through Thursday.
POLARIS & ARCTIC CAT. In northern Minnesota, sports enthusiasts can tour two outdoor recreation powerhouses: Polaris in Roseau and Arctic Cat in Thief River Falls. Just over an hour apart, these two companies have
been making snowmobiles for more than 50 years, along with ATVs and side-by-side vehicles. At the Polaris
Experience Center, visitors can see the evolution of the brand’s outdoor vehicles that also include motorcycles.
Nearby Polaris plant tours are offered on weekday afternoons. Arctic Cat also has weekday factory tours.
MADE IN MINNESOTA
What do snowmobiles, SPAM and Red Wing boots
have in common? They’re all made right here in
Minnesota. Get the inside story on everyone from
Be;y Crocker to the Jolly Green Giant by visiting
museums and factories devoted to the North Star
State’s best-known creations. | LISA ME YERS MCCLINTICK