The Minnesota State Fair is a huge fair and is one of the most popular fairs in the country. It is called “The Great Minnesota Get Together” because people in Minnesota are religious about going to the fair. When I first moved to Minnesota 15 years ago, all I ever heard about was the fair and people really wanted to be the first one to take me. Here are twelve tips for going to the Minnesota State Fair.
1. Don’t park at the Fair take a shuttle bus and buy tickets before hand
Parking can be expensive at the state fair and traffic around the state fair is really bad. I recommend parking at one of the park and rides. Many are free and run very regularly. Where you catch the shuttle is very well marked and they now have their own entrance. If possible you want to buy tickets beforehand. Cub Foods which is the main grocery store in the Twin Cities sells tickets before the fair starts at a reduced price. Once the fair starts you cannot buy them so make sure that you get them before. Besides buying tickets at a discount, the lines to buy tickets at the fair can be quite long. Another option is to buy them online or on your smart phone. You do not need to even print them, but can show them on your smart phone.
2. Try to go on a weekday
The Minnesota State Fair is very popular. Which means it can be very crowded. If you are able to go on a weekday, I highly recommend it. In 2014 1.8 million people went to the fair, and on a Saturday or Sunday well over 200,000 people may attend the fair. While a lot of people will still attend the fair on a weekday, there will be from 50,000 to 75,000 less people on a weekday verses a weekend.
3. See the Largest Pig
There are several animal buildings that you can see Chickens, goats, sheep, cows, horses and pigs. While I do not recommend staying in there long because it smells pretty bad, you must go and see the state’s largest pig. It is one big pig!
4. Go to the Miracle of Birth Center
One of my favorite buildings in the fair is the Miracle of Birth Center. They bring in a bunch of very pregnant animals and they give birth. You can really see it happen and if that grosses you out you can see some very cute newborn animals.
5. See Crop art and seeds
In the Horticulture Building there is one of the most popular exhibits, the Crop Art and seeds. You can see art literally made out of different seeds that is quite impressive, there is also many seeds that are judged and corn. It is a mystery to me how they tell the difference in the seeds and corn to judge but it is very popular. In this building you can also sample craft beers, get honey ice cream and candy, and my favorite is the apple selection where you can get frozen apple cider.
6. Machinery Hill
Another popular part of the Fair is Machinery Hill. Most of it is a bunch of large trucks, tractors and farm equipment that is for sale but there is a section for antique tractors. People line up to watch an engine be turned on and closely look at the tractors. I do not get it, but even if antique tractors are not your thing, people watching antique tractors can be interesting.
7. Eat things on a stick
One thing that the Minnesota State Fair is known for is food on a stick. They put everything on a stick.
8. Eat fried food
I am amazed at what can be fried. Here are some examples:
9. Eat lots of sweets
So you can see a theme here, lots of fried food, food on a stick and lots of sweets. The deep fried twinkie does it all since it is on a stick. Malts are very popular from the dairy building right next to the butter heads and mini donuts are a classic state fair food. Here are some favorites
10. See the Butter Heads
Another popular attraction is the butter heads in the dairy building. Young ladies from all over Minnesota try to become a Dairy Princess, also called Princess Kay. If you win, you not only get to be a Dairy Princess, but you get your head carved out of a giant slab of butter. A very popular attraction.
11. See a concert.
There are many places to see free concerts. You can get daily schedules when you come or look online. All are free except the once an evening concert in the grandstands. Some stages are geared to different types of music and dance.
12. Go on rides and play games
No visit to the state fair is complete without visiting the mighty midway and going on some rides and trying your hand at games so that you can win a gigantic stuffed animal that you do not need. Another popular ride is the giant slide.
I hope that you enjoy the Minnesota State Fair and eat lots of fried food on a stick.