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Lillian Colton

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Title: Lillian Colton  
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Subject: Owatonna, Minnesota, Minnesota State Fair, Crop art
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Lillian Colton

Lillian Colton (1911 – March 20, 2007) was a crop artist whose work, usually portraits of public figures made from agricultural products such as wild rice, hay and timothy seeds glued to cardboard, has been prominently displayed at the Minnesota State Fair for many years. She was "considered the Andy Warhol of seeds" according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune,[1]

Colton was born and raised on a farm near Sherburn, Minnesota in rural Martin County. Moving to Owatonna, Minnesota after she married, she ran a beauty shop at her home in Owatonna called Cinderella Clip and Curl for 67 years. She didn't start as a crop artist until later in her life.[2] Colton first entered Crop Art at the State Fair in 1966 and won nine best-of-show Purple ribbons in eleven years.

According to Steve Pooch, deputy general manager of the State Fair, "She had basically won everything. Once she attained her level of expertise, there wasn't anybody that could compete. ... Quite frankly, a lot of people didn't want to compete against her."[3] As a result she retired from the State Fair competition in 1983 "to let others have a chance at winning ribbons".[4]

She continued to be part of the show, though with "at least 50 of seed art pictures" displayed in the Fair's Horticulture Building and was hired by the fair to do live demonstrations of crop art techniques for fairgoers.[4] She died of congestive heart failure at her home in Owatonna, MN.[1]

See also


  • Seed Queen: The Story of Crop Art and the Amazing Lillian Colton, by Colleen Sheehy, with a foreword by Karal A. Marling, Minnesota Historical Society,
  • Lillian Colton, 1911-2007


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