The fair starts this week! What better way to get excited for opening day on Thursday, than to put together my Minnesota State Fair Guide? I love everything about the two weeks, and while I may not be there every day, I do try to spend plenty of time enjoying the food, seeing the sights and recording live Weekly Dish shows.
I put together this guide so you can find the new food and drinks in one place, plus some of my favorite things to do and see at the fair. You’ll also find my schedule below, including a couple of opportunities to get my book. I can’t wait to see you at the Great Minnesota Get Together!
Minnesota State Fair Schedule
If you’re a fair veteran, you probably know this by now, but let’s start with the fair basics:
Dates: Thursday, August 25 to Monday, September 5 (Labor Day)
Hours: 7 a.m. to 11p.m. 9pm the final day)
Ticket Prices: $17 for adults, $12 for seniors and kids (or check out some of the discount deals)
Pro Tip: Mornings are a great time to visit. You can try some different, breakfast-style foods, and the crowds are usually smaller and the weather much better.
The Minnesota State Fair website does a great job of breaking down all the entertainment options with easy menus. You probably already have your tickets to your personal must-see grandstand shows, your list of favorite rides, and a plan to see all the animals, but you can always get a refresher by looking through the options and planning your daily route to the must-see attractions.
Pro Tip: The free music and entertainment stage is a great place to stop and rest. There are some really good acts throughout the fair, and you can get the live music without paying the grandstand prices.
Minnesota State Fair Food and Drink
This is what we’re all here for, right? The food and drink is really the big draw at the fair. The events and attractions are fun, as is the spectacle of the fair itself, but the whole experience is elevated by wandering around with your cheese curds and pronto pup. There are some classics I eat every year, but my favorite thing is to make a list of new food and drink to try and get to as many as I can.
Pro Tip: Make lists! And if you are serious about trying a bunch of new foods, as well as getting in classics, you just have to do more than one day. Make a list of all of your must-have food and drinks, and then plan your days accordingly.
The new fair foods post is one of my favorites to write every year. It’s so exciting to get that list of new options and whittle it down to the ones I just have to have. You can find all the new Minnesota State Fair foods here. These are some of the highlights:
- Beauty and the Buffalo Hummus Bowl at Baba’s
- Chilaquiles Breakfast at Tejas Express
- Gray Duck Sunday at Bridgeman’s Ice Cream
- Tot Dogs and Pimento Cheese Chicken sandwich from Betty and Earls Bisquits at Lulu’s West End
The list of new drinks has become as exciting as the new foods. Local breweries, distilleries and makers of all kinds have really upped their State Fair game and brought some fun and innovative drinks to the fair. There are all kinds of options on my list of new fair drinks, and these are some highlights:
- Chili Pineapple Express Sour at Ball Park Cafe
- Pitt Boss by Bauhaus Brew Labs and Animales BBQ at RC’s BBQ
- Green Apple Wine Slushie at Minnesota Wine Country
- Electric Empress at Lulu’s West End
State Fair Classics
I finally put together a list of my absolute favorite state fair classic foods. It’s pretty tough to whittle down to the must-haves, but doing it makes you really think about which foods are truly worth the wait for the yearly event! My highlights include:
- The Gizmo at the West Side of Cooper Street between Murphy Ave. and Lee Ave.
- Onion Rings at Ball Park Cafe
- Minneapple Pie at Judson and Underwood (just outside the Dairy Building)
Minnesota State Fair Hidden Gems
One of the things I love about the Great Minnesota Get Together is combining the old with the new. The yearly rhythm of the fair is a joy and comfort, and it’s mixed with all the new foods and attractions for a combination of new and old. One of the challenges can be finding things that feel new and exciting outside the food, so I always encourage people to try something new at the fair when they can. These are some of my tips for finding new and exciting ways to enjoy the fair that you may have overlooked in the past!
- Llamas and alpacas are some of the coolest creatures to walk the fairgrounds, and you can interact with them starting August 31 at the horse barn and compeer arena. And don’t miss the insanely popular 4-H llama-alpaca costume contest at 6 p.m. on August 31 in the Warner Coliseum!
- Stump your friends and learn some fun facts about the fair with Minnesota State Fair Trivia. Want to make a fun game out of it? Put together a list of facts and quiz each other when you stop at different locations around the fairgrounds.
- Breakfast! I mentioned this above, but you just have to make breakfast one of your new fair traditions. My friend Mike Marcotte has a wonderful guide to breakfast at the fair.
- It’s the question we all have, but never want to ask: Where are the best bathrooms? We actually talked about this on the Podcast on A Stick podcast a few years ago, and you should really listen because it’s important stuff.
Meet Me at the Fair
In addition to recording Weekly Dish, I have a couple of book signings at the fair! Come see me:
- Saturday, August 27 from 11-2 p.m. at the MyTalk booth following our the live broadcast (9-11) of Weekly Dish
- Sunday, August 28 at the Star Tribune booth, 12:30 for a signing and conversation with Nicole Hvidsten, Editor of the Taste Section