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Twin Cities Mom Collective

2023 Guide to the Minnesota State Fair

The Great Minnesota Get-Together… August 24 – September 4, 2023

*This post is written in partnership with the Minnesota State Fair. 

Showcasing Minnesota’s finest agriculture, art and industry – people from all over our great state and beyond flock to the Minnesota State Fair, but we are so fortunate to have it right in our backyard here in the Twin Cities!

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 could argue it’s the best week of the year. In fact, you could spend all 12 days at the Minnesota State Fair and still not hit every attraction. So, as much as we want to give you the ultimate guide to every single thing our amazing Fair has to offer, including it all would make for pretty much the longest post EVER. Instead, we’ve got the highlights for you, putting the spotlight on the features FAMILIES will want to know about and our “must-see” Fair favorites.

minnesota state fair

Hours & Admission

2023 Minnesota State Fair Dates: Aug. 24 to Labor Day, Sept. 4

Hours

  • Fairgrounds open daily from 7 am to 9 pm and 7 am to 7 pm on Labor Day.
  • Hours for various attractions vary. You can see all those hours here.

Regular Fair-Time Admission Pricing

  • Adults (13-64): $18
  • Seniors (65+): $16
  • Kids (5-12): $16
  • Children (4 and under): Always Free!

Purchase your 2023 Pre-Fair Discount Gate Admission Tickets through Aug. 23 for just $15. And the Blue Ribbon Bargain Book, available for $5, is your passport to savings at the Minnesota State Fair!

minnesota state fair

Best Attractions for Kids

All-Star Stunt Dogs Splash

Big-air stunts, incredible dog tricks, high-jumping water challenges and comedy antics will have your youngsters cheering.

Alphabet Forest

Take a break at this oasis of creative crafts, books, games, photo ops and meet-the-author activities to inspire a love of letters, words and reading.

Arts A’Fair

Vibrant performing arts groups present lively pop-up showcases featuring puppetry, music, dance, storytelling, theater and more.

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!

Family Fair Stage at Baldwin Park

From amazing jugglers and magicians to energetic song and dance, this entertainment stage features family-friendly fun that will have little tykes smiling, clapping and dancing along.

Kemps Little Farm Hands

Fire up the imagination of young farm hands as they help with chores and bring their “food” to the farmers market in this mini agriculture experience specially created for ages 3-10. Big kid farm hands can earn an Ag-Vestigator ribbon by testing their knowledge in a fun trivia challenge.

Livestock Complex

Meander through the Cattle Barn, Horse Barn, Robert A. Christensen Pavilion and the Sheep & Poultry Barn for an up-close look at the largest exhibition of livestock in the Upper Midwest – hundreds of breeds of cattle, horses, swine, poultry, goats, sheep, llamas and alpacas and rabbits.

Check schedules for details. Breeds vary by day. Please note that barns hours vary, and some barns will close early for the safety of guests, animals and exhibitors on select days when animals are leaving the fair and we are preparing for the arrival of new animals. Make sure to visit the animals early, especially on Aug. 27, Aug. 31 and Sept. 5, when the barns close early.  

Math On-A-Stick

Play with geometric shapes, sort and count, enjoy a numbers book, search for things to count at the fair, meet a creative mathematician and more!

Meet the Mascots

Our very own gopher good guys, Fairchild and Fairborne, greet fair fans of all ages daily at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. at Visitors Plaza.

Parade

Marching bands, local royalty, mascots and more make their way through the fairgrounds every day at 2 p.m. Parade route.

Thank a Farmer Magic Show

Captivating magic tricks are interwoven with fun facts about the important role agriculture, farmers and ranchers play in our daily lives.

Timberworks Lumberjack Show

Teams of lumberjacks and lumberjills show off their skills at climbing, sawing, log rolling and more in friendly, fun competition.

Kidway, Mighty Midway and Other Ticketed Attractions

These fun adventures require the purchase of additional tickets:

  • Kidway: Fun houses, bumper boats, swings, mini rollercoasters and truck, train, motorcycle, whale rides and more – dozens of rides, games and food options for pint-sized youngsters
  • Mighty Midway: Even more rides to thrill and games of skill
  • More Rides and Attractions: Iconic must-dos include the Giant Slide, Great Big Wheel, SkyGlider, Space Tower, carousel, reptiles and butterflies, and more.
  • Sensory-Friendly Morning at Kidway & Might Midway: For fair guests who would like to experience the fun of rides & games at Mighty Midway & Kidway with reduced light brightness and sound volume, on Monday, Aug. 28, at Kidway from 9 to 11 a.m. and at Mighty Midway from 10 a.m. to noon, lights, sounds and non-safety-related announcements will be minimized.

Use the links above to find information on height requirements, ticket prices, locations and hours.

minnesota state fair

State Fair Classics

Butter Sculptures: Because where else will you see a giant head carved out of butter?! Each year, Princess Kay of the Milky Way, along with nine finalists who competed to be this year’s goodwill ambassadors for the dairy industry, get the honor of having their heads carved out of 90-lb. blocks of butter.

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.

Blue Ribbon Bargain Book: This tiny but mighty book has over 100 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!

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.

minnesota state fair

What to Eat

The Minnesota State Fair features 300+ food vendors offering 500+ menu items – 80 of which are on a-stick!

There is so much food to try here that there’s no way to hit it all – so there’s a helpful guide to ALL of the food vendors on their website, and you can decide what you want to hit up and even make a list in advance.

NEW Foods for 2023

There are 34 NEW foods to check out at the State Fair this year. Find the full list of NEW FOODS HERE!

For the Toddlers/Babies

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. Please wash or sanitize hands throughout your visit and especially before and after time with the animals and prior to eating.

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. Nursing facilities are also available at the myTalk 107.1 radio and TPT Twin Cities PBS television booths.

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 throughout the fairgrounds as noted by a water drop on the fairgrounds map

ID Wristbands: To help reunite lost children with their adults, pick up a free ID wristband when you arrive at the fairgrounds at any information booth or at Care & Assistance (see map). 

Tip: Take a photo of the young ones when you arrive at the fair, so you’ll have a readily available picture showing what they look like and what they’re wearing at the fair.



Transportation

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 mnstatefair.org/transportation/metro-transit for more information about Express Bus service, regular bus routes, and how to purchase bus tickets.

Park & Ride: FREE Park & Ride buses are offered near the fairgrounds. For more information, visit mnstatefair.org/transportation/free-park-and-ride

On-Site Parking: On-site parking is available for $20 cash or credit. Space is limited, and lots often fill by mid-morning. Many homeowners in the area open up parking spaces in their yards and driveways for a fee If you don’t mind walking, these can be a great option. No overnight parking is allowed in the public parking lots.

Check out the State Fair’s website for all the information you need to plan a visit to the fair. We hope to see you there!

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