2021 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!

Entrance to the 2021 Minnesota State Fair

  • Dates: August 26 to September 6
  • 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): $16
    • Seniors (65+): $14
    • Kids (5-12): $14
    • Children 4 and under: FREE
    • If you purchased tickets for the 2020 State Fair, your 2020 ticket is valid for the 2021 fair! Just bring your ticket and scan at the gate any one day at the fair!
  • Ticket Discount Days:
    • NOW – 9pm on August 25: Early bird pre-fair discount. $13 any age guest (age 5+)
    • August 26: Opening Day. $14 adult admission, $11 for kids (5-12), $11 for seniors.
    • August 30: Seniors Day. Seniors get in for $11.
    • August 31: Military Appreciation Day. Military members and their families get tickets for any age group for $11 with valid identification.
    • September 1: Kids Day. Kids get in for $11.
    • September 2: Seniors Day. Seniors get in for $11.
    • September 6: Kids Day. Kids get in for $11.

{Photo by Minnesota State Fair}

We are thrilled to have the State Fair up and running this year, it’s been WAY too long! The State Fair is doing everything they can to ensure a safe, secure and healthy environment for us all. We may see a couple things different this year to adhere to some guidelines or make a better user experience for us all.

  • Covid-19 Protocols:
    • Currently, there aren’t restrictions regarding large gatherings where we will see any daily attendance limits.
    • Face masks will not be mandated for fair guests at the fair. However, face masks are strongly encouraged especially if entering into indoor spaces. Face masks are required on all Park & Ride and Express buses. Hand sanitizer will be provided at locations throughout the fairgrounds.
    • Keep an eye out for any Covid related protocols here.
  • Changes in Exhibits and Attractions: The following will not be at the 2021 State Fair: 3rd Lair SkatePark, EquiMania!, Festival of Nations Demonstration Stage, Giant Sing Along, Go Karts, the Great Big Sandbox, Laser Encore’s Laser Hitz Show and the River Raft Ride.
  • New Attractions for 2021: Check out all the new attractions for 2021 here.

Police Officer on horseback at the 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: 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. Stop by the Twin Cities ROCK booth at the HealthFair 11 to get a list of gluten free fair foods!
  • 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.

  • 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. Visit metrotransit.org/StateFair for more information about Express Bus service, regular bus routes and how to purchase bus tickets. Please note the number of locations are limited this year and that face masks are required on buses. 
  • Parking: The fair lots cost $16 (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. No overnight parking is allowed in the public parking lots.
  • Park & Ride: FREE Park & Ride buses are offered 30 locations near the fairgrounds. See them all here! Buses run from 8:00am-midnight (11pm on Labor Day). Check out their Twitter account and the hashtag #MSFParking for Park & Ride lot updates.

Sweet Martha's Cookies 2021 Guide to the 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 $3 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 10:00am-11:00pm. Cost is $6 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 28 tickets OR $50 for 60 tickets. Kidway is a great option as well, which has rides for younger children. *Insider tip: Use the $8 off one $25 sheet of 28 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 $5 one way or $8 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 $5 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 $4 a person, located off of Underwood & Carnes Avenues.

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:

Dual Berry Shortcake: Oh. My. Gosh! This delicious looking treat will be just what we need at the end of a fun filled day. Strawberries, blueberries, whipped cream and a balsamic glaze over a biscuit. Yes please!  Try it out at LuLu’s Public House at the West End Market.

Caramelized Banana Pudding:  Your kids are guaranteed to be dazzled by this vanilla pudding, fresh bananas, toasted ‘nilla wafers, cocoa crispy cereal, caramel sauce and whipped cream. Find it at Blue Moon Dine-In Theater on the corner of Carnes Ave. & Chambers St.

Cucumber Jalapeño Limeade: Quench your thirst with this spicy yet refreshing limeade made with juiced Minnesota-grown cucumbers and jalapeño syrup! Get yours at Farmers Union Coffee Shop east of the Visitors Plaza.

Bison Bites: This twist on ravioli made with bison, fennel, portobello mushrooms and fresh basil sounds like a tasty bite to try! Grab yours at Giggles’ Campfire Grill at The North Woods.

DON’T FORGET! On top of indulging in delicious fair foods, this year you can enjoy 56 brand-new beverages! In addition, there are also 29 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}

  • All-Star Stunts Dog Show: Get ready to be wowed by dogs as they compete in challenges, dock dives, walking backwards, doing paw-stands and much more! Shows happening daily at 11:00am, 2:00pm, & 4:30pm at the North Woods Stage.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Meet the Mascots: Say hello to the State Fair’s mascots, Fairchild and Fairborne, daily at 11am and 4pm at the Visitors Plaza.
  • Moo Booth: Moo Live: Kids will be fascinated by cow milkings and learning about cows and their behavior. The Moo Booth holds live presentations and interactive activities for people of all ages! On the Barn Stage in the Moo Booth, west end of Cattle Barn. Aug 29, Sept 2 & Sept 6 at 11:00am.

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! Coolers are not permitted in the Grandstand, however.
  • Handwashing Stations: Handwashing stations are located throughout the grounds in the Food Building and at many entrances to buildings in the livestock area.
  • 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:
    • 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.
  • 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.

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 Miranda Lambert, Maren Morris, Tim McGraw, and more!
  • 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 10:00am and 11:00am each day of the fair for a fun-filled look at Minnesota history that your kids are sure to love!

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