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An insider’s guide to the Minnesota State Fair

An insider’s guide to the Minnesota State Fair

Minnesota’s Great Get-Together, where food-on-a-stick is a novelty and other strange food combinations become the center of attention.

Every year, it’s a tradition for my family to go for a day and fill up on the greasy delights and check out all the new baby livestock. As a regular fairgoer, I’m going to share a few of my tips and tricks on how to fully enjoy the Minnesota State Fair.

Money saving tips

1. Park in the U of M parking lot by Mariucci and take the free shuttle to the fairgrounds

To park at the state fairgrounds, it costs $14. But I’ve got a few ways that you can avoid that hefty price. 

There’s free parking at University of Minnesota’s TCF Stadium for the entire day. There are many shuttle buses that will take you to the fair grounds and pick you up, again, for free! 

Nearby the fair there are also other parking lots that offer discounted parking rates.

2. Get discount tickets outside of the fair grounds at Cub Foods

At Cub Foods you can visit any customer service desk and purchase discount tickets for the State Fair. You can save a few buckets on each ticket if you purchase multiple days at a time.

Also, check out ticket discount days at the fair. On Wednesday discount there was Read and Ride Day, which offered two dollars off each ticket to patrons with a valid library card. 


3. Save on food and merchandise at the fair with a coupon book

Every year, my family saves about $15 on average with the Blue Ribbon Bargain Book. Totally worth buying the coupon book, in my opinion.

Exhibits to see

Every year all the exhibits change at the fair, which is one of the many reasons, I love the Great Get-Together! Some buildings that I always check out are:

  • The livestock barns: Who can say no to cute animals? It’s a great time to look at all the different animal breeds and ask the owners and showmen and women about their pride and joy!
  • The Miracle of Birth barn: Again, who can say no to cute, fluffy, baby animals? When I visited the fair I was able to watch a cow go into labor! (I recorded part of it on my Snapchat: follow me @marthalueders).
  • The 4-H art and fine art buildings: I loved looking at all the projects from quilts to a handmade boat. They are all so gorgeous with their intricate details. It’s also a good time to escape the heat and soak in the cool A/C. 
  • The horticulture building: This building has a lot of educational booths, but also a lot of cool exhibits that are interactive. You may luck out and get some food samples! In recent years I’ve been able to see the winners of the largest produce contest and have been able to taste some honey bee ice cream, which is delicious by the way!
  •  Giant Sing Along: If you’re looking for something to get silly with, go visit the Giant Sing Along at the north end of the fair. My friends and I had a blast there this year! They have songs from different decades, which is a great way to have fun with the whole family — Grandma can get her groove on too!

To view where these attractions are, find them on the Minnesota State Fair map. 

Rides


I typically don’t take a spin on any rides at the fair, but if that’s up your alley, here are a few favorites and classics:

  • Old Mill ride – It’s a classic that’s located right in the middle of the fairgrounds. Great for all ages.
  • Sky Ride – If you want to get away from the crowds, soar on the Sky Ride. It’s great for people watching and the view is incredible at sunset. As a bonus, it’s a fast way to get from one end of the fair to the other.
  • The Ferris Wheel: Is there anything more classic? It’s not a real trip to the fair if you don’t take a spin on the Ferris Wheel.

Food

The much anticipation topic of food!


Every year I try a new food at the state fair. This year I tried the new Blazin’ Deep Fried Olives, which have become one of my favorites! If you enjoy fried pickles, this is definitely for you! 

The Star Tribune reviews all the new foods each year if you want some guidance on what new food to try.

But I also make sure to enjoy one or two classic foods while I’m there.

  • Pronto Pup
  • Strawberry rhubarb malt from the Dairy Building
  • Fried pickles
  • Cheese curds
  • Corn on the cob
  • Sweet Martha’s Cookies with unlimited milk refills
  • End the day with one unique brew: The Sweet Corn Ale has been my favorite!

If you’re unsure of what you want to munch on, roaming around is your best bet. If you’re looking to try another cultural cuisine, check out the Bazaar or Heritage Square. The State Fair has a great search on their website that tells you exactly where you can find foods in the park. So if you know the name of the vendor, or if you’re just looking for any ‘ole corn dog, the search will find what you’re looking for!

What are your favorites at the Minnesota State Fair? Make sure to share them in the comments!



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