Cheese curd vendor threatens to serve up a lawsuit against fair

Tom Mueller, the son of the owners of the original cheese curd stand at the Minnesota State Fair says he heard from a lot of people after his open letter to the fair was circulated.

But he said today he never got a response from the State Fair, which, citing policy, is barring Mueller’s parents, Dick and Donna Mueller, from transferring ownership of the booth. They started the cheese curd “tradition” in 1975.

A fair official said last month the Muellers weren’t clear about their intention to retire and transfer the business to their son, and said the elder Mueller had informed the fair that he intended to sell the business as there was no family member interested in taking it over.

Today, the Muellers’ attorney Arthur Boylan, sent a letter to fair general manager Jerry Hammer threatening a lawsuit:

The Minnesota State Fair holds a special place in the hearts. and minds of many Minnesotans. As a public corporation, the State Fair is entrusted with maintaining and preserving this cherished tradition and its institutions.

Unfortunately, as detailed in the Complaint, the State Fair has breached that trust by failing to follow its own rules, deliberately obscuring the availability of the process to transfer a business from one generation of a family to another, and unlawfully interfering with the continuation of The Original Cheese Curds at the State Fair. Frankly, at a minimum,. the longtime and beloved vendors of the State Fair deserve transparency of process and fair treatment.

We would like to sit down with you or other officials at the State Fair to discuss ways to find a mutually-agreeable solution before this becomes a matter for the Courts to decide. If we do not hear from you in the immediate future, we will proceed with the lawsuit. I genuinely will hope that proves unnecessary. I will await your call.

“When the time came for The Original Cheese Curds to transfer from one generation to the next, the State Fair led the elderly patriarch down a primrose path,” Boylan said in his complaint. “Instead of disclosing the process by which the business could be transferred, the State Fair encouraged Dick Mueller to relinquish his long-standing license by stating that there was no process to transfer to the next generation.”

Boylan said the fair doesn’t follow its own rules consistently and asserted that other businesses have been handed down from one generation to the next. His filing seeks $50,000.

The cheese curd state fair booth has been turned over to a bacon vendor.