2019 Family Guide to the Minnesota State Fair

It’s almost time for Minnesota’s biggest event of the summer. From the Giant Slide to the animal barns to your favorite foods on a stick, there is truly something for everyone to love at the Minnesota State Fair! We have all you need to know about how you can make the most of your family trip to the fair including safety and transportation tips, where to find the best kid-friendly booths, how you can get your hands on the newest fair foods, and more! We’ll see you at the Fair!

2019 Family Guide to the Minnesota State Fair | Twin Cities Moms Blog
{Photo by Minnesota State Fair}

  • Dates: August 22 to September 2
  • Hours: The fairgrounds are open each day from 6:00am until midnight. Gates are open from 6:00am until admission ends at 10:00pm. (Hours are adjusted on Labor Day).
  • Maps: Use these maps to navigate your way around the Fair. *Insider tip: download the MN State Fair app on your phone! This handy tool will help you find exactly where your favorite foods are, will find your location to show you your proximity to any attraction, and best of all, it’s completely FREE!
  • Tickets:
    • Adults (13-64): $15
    • Seniors (65+): $13
    • Kids (5-12): $13
    • Children 4 and under: FREE
  • Ticket Discount Days:
    • August 22: Thrifty Thursday. $13 adult admission, $10 for kids (5-12), $10 for seniors.
    • August 26: Seniors & Kids Day. Senior and kid (5-12) tickets are $10.
    • August 27: Military Appreciation Day. Military members and their families get tickets for any age group for $10 with valid identification.
    • August 28: Ride & Read Day. $13 adult admission, $10 kid and senior admission for those who present a valid library card.
    • August 29: Seniors Day. Seniors get in for $10.
    • September 2: Kids Day & Last Chance Day. Kids get in for $10.

2019 Family Guide to the Minnesota State Fair | Twin Cities Moms Blog
{Photo by Minnesota State Fair}

  • Care & Assistance: This is the place to go if anyone in your group happens to get lost or separated while at the fair. It’s open daily from 8:00am until 11:00pm on the south side of West Dan Patch Ave near the West End Market.
  • First Aid: Dial (651)-288-4500 if you need medical assistance while at the fair. There are two first aid locations: First Aid West is located on the south side of West Dan Patch Ave between Randall Ave and Liggett Street and is open 8:00am-12:30am. First Aid East is located inside the north end of the 4-H Building on the east side of Cosgrove Street and is open 8:00am-10:00pm.
  • Food Allergies: Look for allergy warning signs at most fair vendors. These are not a requirement, however, so be sure to ask each vendor if you have a particular allergy. Find a list of gluten-free foods here
  • ID Bracelets: Grab your FREE identification bracelets for your kids at the Care & Assistance building or all information booths. These can help reunite you and your children in the event that they get lost.
  • Police: In case of emergency, call 911 (9-911 on a State Fair phone). The non-emergency line is 651-291-1111.

2019 Family Guide to the Minnesota State Fair | Twin Cities Moms Blog{Photo by Minnesota State Fair}

  • Bikes: If you live near the fair, biking is the cheapest way to park! Choose from one of three FREE bike lots on the fairgrounds.
  • Express Buses: State Fair Express Bus service features free parking and a direct bus ride to the fairgrounds for a small fee from farther-out suburbs around the Twin Cities. 20 Express Bus lots are serviced by Metro Transit, Minnesota Valley Transit Authority and Southwest Transit. In addition, several regular Metro Transit bus routes drop you off right at the fairgrounds. Visit metrotransit.org/StateFair for more information about Express Bus service, regular bus routes and how to purchase bus tickets.
  • Parking: The fair lots cost $15 (make sure to bring cash – these lots are CASH ONLY!). These are the closest proximity to the fairgrounds. However, many homeowners in the area open up their yards and driveways for smaller fees. If you don’t mind walking, these can be a great option.
  • Park & Ride: FREE Park & Ride buses are offered at more than 30 locations near the fairgrounds. See them all here! Buses run from 8:00am-midnight.

2019 Family Guide to the Minnesota State Fair | Twin Cities Moms Blog
{Photo by Minnesota State Fair}

  • Butter Sculptures: Because where else will you see a giant head carved out of butter?! The Fair princess, Princess Kay of the Milky Way, gets the honor of having her face carved into a 90lb block of butter each year. Check it out 9:00am-5:00pm daily inside the Dairy Building.
  • Sweet Martha’s: You can get a cone of these, but really… just go for the whole bucket. You won’t regret it. You can find Sweet Martha’s at three locations – the first on the North side of West Dan Patch Ave between Liggett St. & Chambers St, the second on the South side of Carnes Ave between Nelson & Underwood streets, and the third at the West side of Underwood St between Lee & Randall Avenues.
  • Fairchild and Fairborne: The mascots of the fair can be seen roaming the fairgrounds, but greet them daily at 11:00am & 4:00pm at Visitors Plaza.
  • Blue Ribbon Bargain Book: This tiny but mighty book has over 150 coupons to save you some cash at the fair! The books are only $5 – find them at the FairWear gift shops or at the Bargain Book & State Fair poster carts. Click here for a list of coupons. 
  • Giant Slide: This fair classic is perfect for kids and adults alike! Grab a sack, pile the whole family on, and have someone take a video as you fly down the slide! Only $2.50 a rider located between Dan Patch & Carnes Avenues. Open 8:00am-11:30pm.
  • Great Big Wheel: One of the tallest traveling giant Ferris wheels in North America is coming to the Minnesota State Fair! The Great Big Wheel carries riders to a height of 156 feet, offering breathtaking views of the State Fairgrounds and beyond! The 15-story-tall Great Big Wheel is equipped with 36 enclosed gondolas each holding six people. Don’t miss the spectacular lighting display as the sun goes down! Open 9:00am-11:00pm. Cost is $5 per rider.
  • Mighty Midway: The rides and games of the Midway are a great place to make memories with your family. Tickets cost $1 each, or you can buy sheets for $25 for 30 tickets OR $40 for 54 tickets. Kidway is a great option as well, which has rides for younger children. *Insider tip: Use the $8 off one $25 sheet of 30 ride & game tickets for Mighty Midway AND/OR Kidway found in the Blue Ribbon Bargain Book!
  • Skyride: This is a great way to get from one end of the fair to the other while taking in the sights of the fairgrounds! Starts at Cooper Street and ends near the West End Market off Liggett Street. Only $4.50 one way or $7 round trip!
  • Space Tower: You will see the 330 foot Space Tower rising above the fair upon arriving. This legendary ride is a great way to get a 360-degree view of the fair! Located on Cooper Street and only costs $4 per rider.
  • Ye Old Mill: This classic ride is over 100 years old and is truly an enjoyable piece of history at the fair. Take a boat through the dimly lit canals as you look at fair scenes inside. Your kids will get a kick out of saying they went on the oldest ride at the fair! Only $3.25 a person, located off of Underwood & Carnes Avenues. 

2019 Family Guide to the Minnesota State Fair | Twin Cities Moms Blog{Photo by Minnesota State Fair}

The smartest thing you can do is spend the day at the fair, head out in the afternoon and get your hands stamped on your way out so you can return at night kid-free! Get a babysitter and make it a full day at the Great Minnesota Get Together!! We could go on and on with how to spend an evening with your sweetheart at the fair, but here are a few of our favorites:

  • Head to the arcade on the North side of Dan Patch Ave. between Nelson and Underwood Streets, next to the Butterfly House and try your hand at a few games! Hop in the photo booth and snap some cute photos!
  • The 900 FREE shows  & 100+ FREE acts across the fairgrounds are the best places to listen to some music and enjoy live entertainment. See the full lineup here!
  • If you’re feeling adventurous, try one of the extreme thrill rides in Adventure Park. The Sling Shot and the Skyscraper will send you flying high over the fair in a way you never have before!
  • The West End Market is full of things to do. Catch live music at Schell’s Stage, shop the local artisans and vendors, and grab an adult beverage and appetizers at Lulu’s Public House, which has a great rooftop patio area.
  • Surprise your sweetheart with tickets to a Grandstand concert! Enjoy one of many great acts that play each night and watch the sunset over the fair. See who is playing the Grandstand this year and buy tickets here
  • End your date night with fireworks! Every night around 10-11pm, there is an outstanding fireworks show that can be seen across the entire fair (weather permitting). Camp out on a bench and grab a bucket of Sweet Martha’s cookies as you enjoy the view! *Insider tip: watch these from the Skyride for an extra special view!

With 27 new foods at the fair this year, there are options for everyone! Find a full list here. Here are a few we are so excited to try:

Halo Cone:  Your kids are guaranteed to be dazzled by this swirled blend of cotton candy and blue raspberry soft serve ice cream in a halo of vanilla cotton candy and sprinkled with a mix of candy toppings. Find it at Rainbow Ice Cream in the upper level of the Grandstand.

Joey Mary: Say no more – this is an iced coffee slushie topped with a skewer of gluten-free baked goods, including a chocolate bite, honey toffee crunch and almond cookie. WE. ARE. IN. Get yours at Brim in the North End.

Carnitas Taco Cone: Because who doesn’t like tacos?! This is carnitas with a sesame-garlic ginger sauce, cabbage, lime and queso fresco, topped with green onion and sour cream and served in a deep-fried cone-shaped tortilla. Try it out at San Felipe Tacos inside the Food Building.

Mini Donut Latte: You had us a donut and latte put together. This is a traditional latte with house-made mini donut flavoring, whole milk and espresso topped with a dusting of cinnamon and sugar. Caffeinate at The Anchor Coffee House on the West side of Underwood St. between Carnes and Judson.

DON’T FORGET! On top of indulging in delicious fair foods, this year you can enjoy 53 brand-new beverages! In addition, there are also 27 returning beverages found only at the Great Minnesota Get Together. See a full list here!

2019 Family Guide to the Minnesota State Fair | Twin Cities Moms Blog
{Photo by Minnesota State Fair}

  • Baldwin Park & Family Fair: This is home to Alphabet Forest, Math on A Stick, & tons of other family-friendly shopping, free entertainment, and concessions.
  • CHS Miracle of Birth Center: This booth located on the south side of Judson Ave between Clough and Nelson Street has something for all ages to enjoy. Watch cows, pigs, and many other animals give birth, pet newborn baby animals, and meet some of the farmers that raise these animals. Every day a new animal is born, so be sure to check back if you head to the fair multiple times to see the latest babies! Open 9:00am-9:00pm daily. *Special Labor Day hours.
  • EquiMania!: Do you have a horse lover at your house? This is the perfect exhibit for you! Learn about horse behavior, anatomy, nutrition and more from equine experts. There are many hands-on activities for kids to enjoy as well as educational lessons for them to take with them.
  • Giant Sing Along: Grab a giant microphone and sing your heart out to popular songs with your whole family! Open from 9:00am-8:00pm, this is the place to take some fun photos and videos of your kids. Find it across from the Pet Center.
  • Great Big Sandbox: Located near the Family Fair Stage at Baldwin Park, this is the perfect booth for kids of all ages to enjoy! This is a great spot to watch your kids build a sand castle, dig a trench, and fill their buckets while you relax after a long day of walking the fair! It is open 9:00am-8:00pm each day.
  • Little Farm Hands: Kemps Little Farm Hands is an interactive experience that gives children a look into how our food makes its way from farm to market to table. Grab your bucket and apron, “pick” your own produce, and cash it in for “money” at the end, which you can use to purchase a special treat! Kids ages 3-10 will love riding the tiny tractors, milking a cow, and planting crops! Open 8:00am-7:00pm each day.
  • Moo Booth: Kids will be fascinated by cow milkings and learning about cows and their behavior. The Moo Booth holds fun contests and demonstrations for people of all ages! Open daily at the Cattle Barn.
  • Angry Birds Universe: The Exhibition: NEW! ANGRY BIRDS UNIVERSE: THE EXHIBITION, making its Midwest debut, is the inaugural exhibit in the North End Event Center and is only at the 2019 State Fair. “Be the bird” and explore science, technology, engineering, art and math through unique, hands-on interactives: Build and race handheld vehicles; launch larger-than-life Angry Birds with massive slingshots; try your hand in a high-tech design studio; learn about egg sizes, wing span and flight dynamics; and propel down a zip line to knock over enormous foam structures – these are just some of the exhibit’s unique activities. Physics, animation, gravity, magnetics, geometry and more have never been so fun! FREE.

2017 State Fair Guide | Twin Cities Moms Blog

{Photo by Minnesota State Fair}

  • Baby Changing Stations: These are available in nearly every bathroom on the fairgrounds. *Insider tip: the West End Market has great, newer restrooms that are very clean and have changing tables!
  • Coolers, Bags, & Outside Food/Drinks: While your bags will be subject to search at the gate, you can absolutely bring them into the fair. No need to worry about how you will keep your bottles or baby food cold!
  • Nursing Facilities: Care & Assistance has nursing areas available, located on West Dan Patch Avenue south of West End Market AND north of Mighty Midway. Private rooms are available on a first come basis. Care & Assistance is open 8:00 am to 11:00 pm daily. Here are a few other nursing facilities {see map HERE}:
    • Health Fair 11, located on the west side of Cooper Street between Dan Patch and Judson avenues 
    • myTalk 107.1, located on the west side of Underwood Street between Lee and Randall avenues 
    • TPT | Twin Cities PBS, located on the east side of Cosgrove street on the street level of the 4-H Building
  • Stroller/Wagon Rentals: Don’t feel like hauling your stroller or wagon along? Swing by one of five HomeTown Mobility booths to get one on a first come, first served basis. 
  • Sunscreen: Forget sunscreen for your little one? No worries! Head to the nearest Information Booth and grab some sunscreen for FREE!
  • Water: Keep your little ones hydrated by bringing in your own sippy cups and water bottles! These can be refilled at FREE water stations located at 4-H Building, Agriculture Horticulture Building, Eco Experience, Education Building, Grandstand, Warner Coliseum, restroom south of Kidway on the west side of Cooper Street, and restroom on the north end of the fairgrounds on the south side of Murphy Avenue. These commercial exhibitors also offer water for fair guests:
    • Culligan Water
    • KARE 11 TV
    • Ramberg Music Cafe

2019 Family Guide to the Minnesota State Fair | Twin Cities Moms Blog{Photo by Minnesota State Fair}

  • All-Star Stunts Dog Show: Watch dogs of all sizes compete in various competitions. Offered daily at 11:00, 2:00, and 4:30 on the North Woods Stage.
  • Baldwin Park Family Fair: See tons of kid-friendly shows for free! 
  • Bazaar Stage: Located at the International Bazaar, the Bazaar Stage features reggae, R&B, polka, Tex-Mex, Latin, jazz and more.
  • Free stages: The fair has tons of free entertainment stages for you to enjoy! See each stage and their unique lineup here.
  • Grandstand concerts: Enjoy an outdoor concert at the Grandstand! Tickets are an additional cost – purchase here. This year’s acts include top artists such as Hootie and the Blowfish, Dierks Bentley, Logic, Lionel Richie, ZZ Top and MORE!
  • Lazer Hitz Shows: These free shows are held nightly at 9:15pm on Cosgrove Street by the Family Fair at Baldwin Park. Be amazed by the laser light show set to popular music! This is a great way to end the night with your kids who may need to sit down and relax at the end of a long, fun-filled day.
  • Lumberjack Show: Your kids will LOVE watching lumberjacks climb logs, swing their axes, and do stunts of all kinds! Check it out at 12:00, 3:00, 5:30, or 7:00 on the North Woods Stage.
  • Old Iron Show: Get a glimpse of rare, antique farm equipment and enjoy free demonstrations. Perfect for the little tractor lovers in your life! Open 8:00am to 7:00pm on Lee Avenue.
  • The State Fair Parade: Check out local high school marching bands, floats,  fair royalty and more at this daily parade. Occurs every day at 2:00pm beginning at Judson Avenue. Bring a blanket and put your feet up for a bit with your family as you enjoy the sights and sounds of the parade.
  • West End Market Schell’s Stage: This stage features a wide variety of entertainment in the West End Market area of the fair. *Insider tip: Check out Minnesota Historical Society’s “History-On-A-Schtick” at 9:30am and 10:30am each day of the fair for a fun-filled look at Minnesota history that your kids are sure to love!

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