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It’s almost time for the Great Minnesota Get-Together. Can you smell the cheese curds yet? I know some that don’t understand the love, or the need to go every single year. I am not one of them.
That’s like saying I’m never going to a Target again because you’ve seen it all. Trust me, there is always something new to discover. If you are hesitant to go again, here are some of my favorite things to do at the Minnesota State Fair.
Best Things to Do at the Minnesota State Fair in 2023
The 4H Animals
A day at the fair needs to start at the See the largest and the smallest animals in one place. Start out with the CHS Miracle of Birth Center. This place gets insanely busy so get there early.
I am partial to sticking to the side with all the new babies. They have cows, sheep, goats, pigs, chicks and my personal favorite the ducks.
Many times volunteers will hold them so you can get a closer look and sometimes get a pet in. If you are interested in seeing the miracle happen live, they have a viewing area and video screens showing an animal giving birth.
After seeing the smallest animal, head over to the different animal booths.
Onsite you will see the prize-winning varieties in the different categories. Everyone’s favorite is always the biggest pig. The Piglets and the Largest Boar now have their own section of the Pig Booth.
Watch your step as you navigate through this part of the fair. They are good at cleaning up after animals, but you never know what is fresh.
The best entertainment is found at Lennie Lodge. They have good acts running all day long with a bigger act at the end of the night.
One of the best parts is the bands will stick around after sometimes to sign their merchandise. The venue seats up to 3,000 people with room for another 2,000 visitors to stand behind. It’s very intimate.
If you want to see a headliner, the grandstand is where to go. They always have amazing acts each night. My family got so into it one year we went to 7 shows. It was a crazy time. After the show, sit back in your chair and watch the fireworks.
There is tons of great entertainment and I’m not talking about people watching. You can watch the All-Star Stunt Dogs Splash Show, or the Timberworks Lumberjack Show, both at the North Woods Complex.
You can take a peek at the latest cars, or watch the butter carver of the Princess Kay of the Milky way.
You can also partake in the competitions. Did you know they host an ice cream eating competition and cottage cheese eating. All great reasons to visit the Minnesota State Fair.
Learn something new
The MN State Fairgrounds has some great exhibits. It’s all about learning.
For history, check out the: Historic Streetcar Arch, History & Heritage Center, History Walking Tour, Minnesota Newspaper Museum and Old Iron Show
Kids favorites are: Agriculture Horticulture & Bee, Aisle of Breeds, Alphabet Forest, CHS Miracle of Birth Center, The Common Table: Minnesota Eats, The DIRT Demo Stage, EquiMania!™, Goat Booth, Kemps Little Farm Hands, Ag-Vestigator Education Station, Math On-A-Stick, Moo Booth, Baa Booth, Oink Booth, Thank A Farmer Magic Show
Shopping – Great Deals
In most of the merchandise area, you’ll find salespeople pitching they’re As Seen On TV wears. This can be a lot of fun watching the demonstrations and seeing what kind of additional deals you can get.
My husband and I have a rule on this one. If you see something you like, tell the other person. Next year, if you can find it again and still want it, go for it. If you can’t find it, it’s not meant to be. It helps us with impulse buys.
Now if you are looking for something unique or custom-made, there are a few places to check out. I always start at the International Bazar. It is located on the south side of Judson Ave between Underwood and Cooper Street.
You’ll find international-themed merchandise, food, and music. The newest shopping location is West End Market.
They recently re-did the venue and have a bunch of one of the kind items. Like upcycled, candles and home décor made from factory parts.
Games and Rides
The Midway and Kidway hold most of the rides and games. For the little ones, the Kidway is open at 9 am and runs until 10:30. The Midway opens at 10 am and is open until Midnight except for Labor Day when they close at 11 pm.
Once the sun goes down, everyone at the fair migrates toward it. Just follow the bright lights and giant stuff animals. Oh, and I forgot to mention that they added a new attraction a 156 foot tall Ferris wheel. The tallest Ferris Wheel in North America.
Some of my favorite rides are not in the midway. The Space Tower is always a tradition in our family and my kid’s favorite has to be the Giant Slide.
You can also do classics like Ye Old Mill, or do the skyglider to the other side of the park.
The bottom line is always to be on the lookout because you’ll stumble into something fun.
What is the MN State Fair, without some fair food? Some years I’ve planned my entire trip to the fair around the food booths.
I love The Perfect Pickles fried pickle chips. Stick with the Perfect Pickle if you are just starting out. They are so popular they got a section location on Machinery Hill.
I know pickles and ice cream may sound a little odd, but they are on opposite sides of the fair. I wouldn’t eat them together. My husband’s favorite is the Pork Chop on a Stick.
A trip to the Minnesota State Fair is not complete with a stop at the dairy booth. You gotta check out the Princess Kay of the Milkey Way while you are there.
New food vendors join the fair every year.
The Free Stuff
Ok, let’s face it, the Minnesota State Fair has so much going on, there are some great free stuff to snag. The number of bags that left with me is always crazy.
Some booths are just handing out stuff with no strings attached. Others are looking for a story, they’ll have you fill out something, or have you do a fun activity to really earn it.
In 2023 I picked up some seeds to plant next year outside the agriculture horticulture building. Thanks Bremmer Bank! We also got some sporks from the Friends of the BWCA, just for telling our favorite camping story.
FAQ’s About the MN State Fair
When is the 2023 Minnesota State Fair?
The Minnesota State Fair is Aug. 24 – Labor Day, Sept. 4, 2023. It’s always the last 12 days of Summer, ending on Labor Day.
Where is the Minnesota State Fair held?
The Minnesota State Fair is held on the State Fairgrounds in St Paul. The official address is: 1265 Snelling Ave N, Saint Paul, MN 55108
What time does the fair open and close?
Fairgrounds Hours are 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Labor Day. Most booths and activities do not open until 9 a.m. The barns start to open at 8 a.m. and there are a few breakfast vendors that open before 9 a.m.
What are the ticket prices for the Minnesota State Fair and where can I purchase them?
Tickets at the gate cost $18 for Adults and Senior and Kids 5-12 are $16. Children (4 and under) are Always Free!
Prior to the start of the MN State Fair, you can purchase tickets online or at Cub Foods at a discounted rate.
If I buy a Grandstand Event Ticket, do I also need an admission ticket?
Yes, a grandstand event ticket only provides entrance to the Grandstand. You’ll need a sperate admission ticket to the fair.
Where can I park at the Minnesota State Fair?
There are a limited number of parking spots on the State Parks grounds. It costs $20 to park. To park in a private lot right outside the State Fair, it can cost $50. The further you go out, the cheaper it costs. You’ll find all lots listed on the State Fair Map.
What is the bag policy at the MN State fair?
Bags are allowed at the Minnesota State Fair. When entering the fairgrounds, keep the zippers all open for a quicker time through security. They also have metal detectors at all entrances.
Is there a map available of the fairgrounds?
You can get a digital map of the fairgrounds online. You can also pick one up at any Information Booth.
Are pets allowed at the MN State Fair?
No, pets are not allowed at the Minnesota State Fair.
How can I find the schedule for the Minnesota State Fair?
The Minnesota State Fair schedule is available online or at the information booth. Schedules come out in their entirety a few weeks before the fair starts.
Are there any special concerts at the Minnesota State Fair?
The Minnesota State Fair has great Grandstand entertainment every night. In addition to the grandstand, you’ll also find free concerts throughout the fairgrounds.
How to get discount tickets for the Minnesota State Fair?
Minnesota State Fair tickets are best purchased in advance. Once the fair starts, the price goes up and all outside vendors stop selling their tickets. You can get discounts on average $2-3 off gate prices at Cub Foods.
They also have discounts on the Blue-Ribbon Bargen Book and the Midway Tickets.
How many tickets will I need for the attractions?
How many tickets you need for attractions all depends on what you want to see and do. Below you’ll find a list of the average number of tickets required for each attraction.
Kidway rides generally require four to six tickets
Mighty Midway rides generally require four to seven tickets
Games of skill generally require three to six tickets to play
Can I bring my own food and drinks?
Yes, you can bring in your own food and drinks to the fair, with the exception of Alcohol. You cannot bring coolers on the grounds.
Alcoholic beverages and Minnesota wines and ciders are available on the fairgrounds.
Food Items and drinks are not allowed on some rides, on the buses and others.
Can I leave the fair and come back the same day?
Yes, you can get readmission to the Minnesota State Fair. As you are leaving, make sure to get your hand or arm stamped.
Can I use my credit card at the fair? Or will I need to bring cash?
You can use your credit card at some booths at the Minnesota State Fair. It depends on the vendor. Some vendors were cash only, some would give you a discount or charge an additional amount for credit card transitions. It’s recommended to bring cash. If you run out there are ATMs on site.
Have Fun at the Minnesota State Fair
With over 2 million people visiting the Minnesota State Fair each year, you want to get there early. The best day to visit is during the week. My personal recommendation is to visit on Monday – Thursday. Whenever you go, make sure to come prepared and have some fun on the last day summer days at the State Fair.