The 10 Best Things to Do at the Minnesota State Fair

The Minnesota State Fair starts August 27th and runs through Labor Day. It is known as the largest state fair in the country with the most food choices! I can’t believe it is already here, as the MN State Fair is the last hurrah to summer!

I’m 25 years old, and I’ve been going to the fair for 26 years…or so the story goes in my family. My family has a long running history as part of the Great Minnesota Get Together, and I dearly miss working up there for the 12 best days of summer! I can remember when “corndogus eternus” was a phrase every Minnesotan was saying. After working there for 5 years, and attending for many more, I have compiled “The 10 Best Things to Do at the Minnesota State Fair!

1. Hawaiian Shaved Ice.  Walk a block or so down from the main gate (gate 5 on Snelling Ave & Dan Patch) and you will find a staple of the MN State Fair…Hawaiian Shaved Ice. This is a snow cone extraordinaire! It is usually the first thing I head for when I get to the fair. With over 20 flavors to choose from, including bubble gum and tropical (my favorite) you can’t leave without making a stop here! I am still waiting for the day they bring back wedding cake flavor. Yum!

Hawaiian Shaved Ice Stand at the MN State Fair!

Hawaiian Shaved Ice Stand at the MN State Fair! Photo courtesy of the MN State Fair

 

2. The Minnesota Farm Bureau Building. One of the best places to visit at the fair!  You can learn all about agriculture, talk with farmers, get recipes, and get yourself a FREE insulated lunch bag! It is a great time to get your questions about what happens on a farm answered. There are fun facts all about Minnesota agriculture throughout the building and a special space dedicated to pollinators this year! There is even an interactive Ag Cab Lab that kids can drive. There is both a combine and tractor that kids (and adults!) can hop in and plant and harvest a crop.

Stop by the Ag Cab Lab in the Minnesota Farm Bureau building!

Stop by the Ag Cab Lab in the Minnesota Farm Bureau building!

3. The Daily Parade! Every day at 2pm, a parade goes through the fairgrounds. It features a marching band competition, giant cows, crazy bicyclists and more. Fair goers can line the parade route, and watch. The marching band competition is a unique feature of the parade, and one you don’t want to miss. Bands have intricate marching formations, play fun music and often have everything from flag girls to baton twirlers. Don’t forget to wave at the Princess Kay of the Milky Way when the royalty float goes by!

Marching band competition during the MN State Fair parade. Photo courtesy of the MN State Fair.

Marching band competition during the MN State Fair parade. Photo courtesy of the MN State Fair.

4. The CHS Miracle of Birth Center. If you haven’t been, go. Witness the birth of piglets, calves, goats and sheep! You can get up close with baby chicks, bunnies and piglets. Typically, there are over 200 live births during the MN State Fair in the Miracle of Birth Center! It is a must stop to better understand farming and where food comes from.

5. Ye Old Mill. 2015 mark’s the 100th anniversary of the fair’s oldest attraction – the Ye Old Mill! We usually go for a spin on one of the wooden boats about every 3 years, but considering it is the 100th anniversary, we might have to go this year! You can catch a ride on a wooden boat through the dark tunnels for $3.25 per person.

Ye Old Mill celebrates 100 years this year! Photo courtesy of MN State Fair.

Ye Old Mill celebrates 100 years this year! Photo courtesy of MN State Fair.

6. Drink! If you love craft brews or wine tasting, the MN State Fair is the place for you! This year’s lineup includes some interesting new ones such as: S’mores beer, Minnesota Iceberg & Cherry Rhubarb Hard Cider! Provided that the MN State Fair has lots of greasy food to counteract the alcohol, I do suggest sharing some of these drinks with your friends or significant other, that way you have more room for food and sampling!

Last year, Mark tried the mini donut flavored beer!

Last year, Mark tried the mini donuts flavored beer!

7. Ball Park Cafe. If you aren’t stopping for the food & mini donuts beer (which you should), at least swing by to see the extraordinary red Zubaz that are part of the attire the employees wear! Let’s take a minute to talk about THE garlic fries. Please don’t worry about your  breath, they are worth it! The fries are all sorts of flavor delicious and a perfect crisp! They’ve also perfected the deep-fried rib, and have an impressive line-up of MN Beers.

Garlic fries from Ball Park Cafe, along with a Hawaiian Shaved Ice!

Garlic fries from Ball Park Cafe, along with a Hawaiian Shaved Ice!

8. The Leinie Lodge Bandshell. If you are looking for fantastic and free entertainment, the Leinie Lodge is the place to be. They have some awesome acts this year including the Willis Clan (I became a nerd about this show while home on maternity leave), Tonic Sol-Fa, The Wright Brothers and C. Willi Myles! A lot of times you can catch some of best up and coming acts here for free, and within the year they are on tour with someone. It also is a great place to relax in some of their lounge chairs or on the benches!

The Leinie Lodge Bandshell! Photo courtesy of the MN State Fair.

The Leinie Lodge Bandshell! Photo courtesy of the MN State Fair.

9. The Lee & Rose Warner Coliseum. The coliseum is a must do for many reasons. There is excellent shopping underneath the coliseum. I am hoping that the Sloggers will be back this year as I need another pair, but there are fun clothing places, metal artists, jewelry and more. There are a ton of shows that you can attend for free at the coliseum including: horse performances, stock dog trials and dairy shows. The horse shows are usually pretty awesome. My favorite is the draft supreme six-horse hitch show! It is really something to see that many animals working in unison to move a wagon! There is always something going on, so stop in and sit awhile and enjoy a show!

A dairy show in the coliseum at the MN State Fair. Photo courtesy of the MN State Fair.

A dairy show in the coliseum at the MN State Fair. Photo courtesy of the MN State Fair.

10. The Giant Slide. You can’t leave the State Fair without taking a ride down the Giant Slide. It has been m favorite since I was a tiny tot and it is a must do for children and adults. I can’t wait for next year when Harper will be old enough to go on it! It only costs $2.50 per rider, so it won’t break the bank either. There is just something mystical about climbing up all those stairs and then speeding down on a gunny sack with the wind whipping your hair while smells of grilled corn on the cob and deep-fried cheese curds fill the air. So worth it.

The Giant Slide is a crowd favorite at the fair! Photo courtesy of the MN State Fair.

The Giant Slide is a crowd favorite at the fair! Photo courtesy of the MN State Fair.

 

I sincerely hope you make a visit to the MN State Fair as part of your end of summer plans. I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed! From art displays to everything on a stick to dog surgeries to high-flying trampoline acrobatics to milking a cow, there is something for everyone. I didn’t even touch on the shopping available at the Bazaar and Heritage Place or in the Grandstand. I didn’t talk about favorites like the education building where you can get weighed or walk away with a free tree to plant at your home! Hopefully this post helped you narrow down some of what you want to do at the Great Minnesota Get Together! We’re a fun bunch! :)

-Sara

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