Designers / Industry

Larissa Loden Collection Honors State Fairs and Midwestern Culture


Depending where you live (or vacation), your end-of-summer ritual might be a final trip to the beach or a pontoon boat cruise before shutting down the cabin. For folks in the Upper Midwest, it’s hobnobbing at the Minnesota State Fair.

Twin Cities–based jewelry designer Larissa Loden pays tribute to her state’s legendary fair and to Midwesterners everywhere with her latest limited-edition collection. Loden’s team collaborated with Minnesota favorites Sota Clothing Co. to come up with iconic symbols of a state fair and a region that is warm and welcoming, she says.

“State fairs and what they mean resonates with people, especially in the Midwest,” Loden says. “That was part of our ideation process: What things or foods are uniquely ‘state fair’? It really came down to what people want to eat. It’s like a food tour.”

Sota Loden collab
The Sota mini collection includes name necklaces and earrings as well as stud earrings in the shape of iconic Midwestern food and drink.

Minnesota hosts the largest state fair in the United States by average daily attendance. Dubbed “The Great Minnesota Get-Together,” the fair started Aug. 24 and continues through Sept. 4.

“It’s an experience, it’s like a rite of passage,” Loden says. “It really is the great get-together. Everyone feels like your neighbor, and there are so many walks of life there. It’s wholesome fun. I wanted to commemorate that.”

Along with necklaces that spell “Midwest” and Minnesota nickname “Sota” in script, earrings are the stars of this mini collection. There are corn dog–shaped studs with the fried coating and tangy ketchup and mustard rendered in enamel. Another instant classic is the butter stick earring, which Loden says bakers are snapping up.

Loden corndog earrings
Designer Larissa Loden says Midwesterners take corn dogs seriously, enjoying the crunch and flavor of these fried treats, so she had to include corn dog earrings ($36) in her state fair collection.

“Butter is a big thing at the fair. Every year they do these butter sculptures that people carve and everyone waits to see,” Loden says.

Corn-on-the-cob stud earrings represent the farm-fresh goodness of this food that’s like manna to Midwesterners during the summer season. And pop stud earrings let the wearer shout: It’s not soda, it’s POP, for gosh sake!

Loden, a former teacher and all-around Queen of Quirky Jewelry, calls these pieces “badges of honor” in that they not only symbolize the culture and camaraderie of state fairs but of what it means to be a proud Midwesterner.

She appreciates how the Minnesota State Fair highlights shopping local and supporting Midwestern businesses such as Sota Clothing—one reason she always attends the fair, she says.

“Fun, education, and being true to your authentic self is core to my brand, so having a state fair celebration mini collection felt right,” Loden says. “We’ve been getting great feedback, and I’m already looking forward to designing next year’s collection.”

Top: Butter stud earrings are one of the items in a mini collection from designer Larissa Loden inspired by state fairs in Minnesota and elsewhere in the Midwest. (Photos courtesy of Larissa Loden)

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Karen Dybis

By: Karen Dybis

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