It took years for Jason Giandalia to earn a spot at the fair. But that, he said, had nothing to do with his race and everything to do with his business plan.

“When I got selected into the fair, they didn’t even know what I looked like,” said Giandalia, one of the fair’s newest vendors, who identifies as biracial. “They didn’t ask me, ‘Are you black? Are you white? … They select businesses to go into the fairgrounds based on their product, based on their experience.”

Giandalia got his start working at the Lebanese-owned Taco King fair booth before striking out to set up his own business. It took years of applying, being rejected, and reapplying with a stronger business plan and more experience before he was selected to exhibit at the fair.

This year, he made the cut and will be setting up his MinneSnowii Shave Ice stand in the new West End Market. There wasn’t even a box to check for race on his application, he said. The fair was more interested in his experience handling large events, and the contents of his stand, which specializes in Hawaiian-style shave ice: light and fluffy and boasting flavors like passion fruit and guava.

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