Faces of the Fair: Artist Draws Red River Valley Fairgoers for More Than Two Decades

Toby Schnobrich is also a cartoon artist in St. Cloud


WEST FARGO, N.D. — The Red River Valley Fair has been a central part of North Dakota summers for more than a century.

But it’s the last 22 that have meant the most to St. Cloud cartoon artist Toby Schnobrich.

“I started coming here I believe in 1997 back when it was in June and it was a nine day fair,” Schnobrich said.

West Fargo is just one of many stops along his way.

“I travel upwards of seven states. I go as far north as Roseau, Minnesota and as far south as Lubbock, Texas,” Schnobrich said.

Schnobrich knows a thing or two of what makes a fair worthwhile and he says the Red River Valley Fair has it.

“Most shows aren’t that good. This is a very good show. It’s one of the best northern shows that I have,” Schnobrich said.

His caricature drawings is what brought him to the fair and it’s all thanks to fate.

“I used to have another job but I got injured and I started drawing caricatures and I found out people to make fun of them, I figured well why not? So it’s almost accidental how I got into it and it’s been pretty good to me,” Schnobrich said.

While there are several faces that show up on Schnobrich’s canvas, it’s his technique that always stays the same.

“I don’t give you the same pair of eyes I would give someone else but I start with your eyes anyway because it’s a sequence of events that makes me speed through the drawing,” Schnobrich said.

Of all the festivals he goes to, it’s the Red River Valley Fair that seems to help him create the most sequences.

“North Dakota is more likely to show up than if it’s inclement weather. I suppose if North Dakotans waited for good weather, they’d never leave the house so they are really good about it. They’re really good sports. Other states who shall remain nameless, you’d think they would melt,” Schnobrich said.

You could say he has an eye for faces.

“I’ll forget your name but I’ll remember your face,” Schnobrich said.

A memory put to paper that Schnobrich will always carry with him.

It takes Schnobrich about four minutes to draw a cartoon in black and white and about eight minutes for one in color.

You catch him at next year’s fair which runs from July 7th through the 12th.

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