The Minnesota State Fair, also referred to as the Great Minnesota Get-Together, is an annual state fair that’s been held every year since 1859 (except for 1861, 1862, 1893, 1945, 1946, and 2020).
The fair is a melting pot of spectacular attractions, thrilling rides, talented music artists, and most importantly, delicious food – all over the course of 12 days. This yearly mega event is also known for adding exciting new attractions every year – so you can expect to be thoroughly amazed and entertained, even if you attended it last year.
If you’re planning to visit one of Minnesota’s biggest annual events, we have the ultimate 2022 Minnesota State Fair guide for you. This article will help you enjoy the festivities to the fullest, so read on!
When and Where?
The Minnesota State Fair starts in late August and runs until Labor Day. The dates for the fair in 2022 are from August 25 to September 5. Entry to the fairgrounds starts at 7 am every day while the fair ends at 11 pm. On the last day, September 5, the fair will end at 9 pm.
In its early years, the Minnesota State Fair was held in different parts of the state to make it more inclusive. This made it more convenient for regions that had trouble with logistics and the long-distance transportation of livestock and other materials.
Today, the fair is held in the city of Saint Paul at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. The event is the largest state fair in the country in terms of daily attendance and the second-largest by total attendance, trailing the Texas State Fair, which generally runs for twice as long. On average, around 2 million people visit the Minnesota fair every year.
Where To Stay?
Traveling from afar to attend the multi-day state fair? There are plenty of locations for different budgets nearby where you can book your accommodations.
You can find a variety of overnight accommodation options on our Places To Stay page.
Where to Park?
There are no parking reservations at State Fair lots, and slots fill up quickly, so it pays to come early. The parking area opens as early as 6 am and closes at midnight (except on Labor Day when it closes at 11 pm).
The parking fee is $16, which is payable by cash only. Overnight parking is prohibited, and there are no provisions for RV parking.
Though there are designated parking slots for people with disability parking certificates, these too are on a first-come basis.
The fair is located at 1265 Snelling Avenue North in Saint Paul. Those heading south should make a right at Hoyt Avenue and find parking in the Owl or Robin lots. Northbound visitors should exit Como Avenue from Snelling and make a left to find parking lots off Como Avenue.
What To Bring?
It’s easier to have a great time if you bring along a few basic necessities you’ll likely need during these types of outdoor events. Here are eight necessary and handy items to carry when visiting the Minnesota State Fair.
The world is going digital, but it’s always better to have cash with you at all times. Cash is necessary since not all vendors are equipped to handle credit card and digital payments. There will surely be ATMs inside, but do you really want to spend the fair standing in line at an ATM? Besides, it’s also good to have some money in case of an emergency.
This list includes things that you won’t be able to fit in your pocket. Even if you could, it won’t be comfortable. It’s better to carry a bag, like a backpack or a fanny pack, to hold necessary items which you can conveniently carry with you while at the fair.
3. Water Bottle
There will be bottled water at the fair, but it’s better to bring a refillable water bottle. After all, why spend on something you can have for free? The Minnesota State Fair allows you to bring outside food and drinks (except alcohol) inside as well.
August is one of the hottest months of the year in Minnesota, so pack a bottle of sunblock with you to protect your skin and avoid sunburn.
Hats are another good accessory to have on warm days when the sun is high.
6. Hand Sanitizer
You’ll literally be getting your hands dirty when you visit any kind of fair. Most of the time, you won’t be near a washbasin. It’s better to keep a hand sanitizer on you at all times.
7. Wet Wipes
Expect to work up a sweat as you walk around. To reduce the sticky feeling and make yourself feel more comfortable, carry wet wipes so you can freshen up whenever necessary.
8. Walking/Sports Shoes
Your choice of footwear will influence how much you can walk around and enjoy the fair. Choose uncomfortable footwear, and your feet will soon feel it, forcing you to sit down more often than you’d like or limiting your time at the fair. Opt for a comfortable pair like walking shoes and tennis shoes with good arch support and cushioning. Leave the heels, platforms, and tight-fitting shoes at home.
Best Day To Visit
Planning to enjoy the fair with your family? Go on days when the crowds are thin to avoid losing your kids in the swarm of people.
Generally, the first two days (August 25-26) draw the least amount of people. Weekdays (Monday-Thursday) are less crowded as well.
In addition to fewer people, there are discounts on regular fair admission tickets to look forward to on particular days:
- Opening Day
- Military Appreciation Day
- Kids Day
- Labor Day
Get more information on the fair’s deals and discounts page.
If you’re going to the Minnesota State Fair on your own or with your friends, the best days to go and socialize are the weekends. Most people come on Saturdays, particularly the last Saturday. In 2018, the last Saturday had an attendance of 270,426 people — the highest daily attendance ever recorded in the Minnesota State Fair’s history!
For a Party
With so much going on, the Minnesota State Fair is like a big party that goes on for 12 days. The fair features a Grandstand Stage where famous artists perform on different days of the festival.
At the 2022 Minnesota State Fair, some of the artists that are set to headline the stage are Alice in Chains, Breaking Benjamin, Pitbull, and Diana Ross.
Apart from the Grandstand, the state fair also features hundreds of free music shows to enjoy.
For information on purchasing tickets, the Grandstand Stage shows and the free live music, check out the fair’s Free Live Music and Shows page.
Best Spots and Time To Take Photos
While you’re often the best judge for photo ops, there are a few spots that you may want to check out for picture-taking:
- The veranda west of the Grandstand
- The Minnesota mural on the east side of the Food Building
- The DNR Fire Tower
The state fair also features certain selfie spots throughout the fairgrounds that are great for taking selfies! You can find the location of these selfie spots on the Selfie Spot Map.
Spots To Charge Mobile Phones
Having a dead battery in a large event like the Minnesota State Fair can have you scrambling for a place to charge your phone. Luckily, even if you forget your power bank, the fair has mobile phone charging locations that you can visit if your phone dies.
You’ll find them at:
Ramberg Music Cafe
The cafe is located in the Relax & Recharge Station of the festival. This section is on the west side of Underwood Street, situated right between Carnes and Judson avenues.
Renewal by Andersen
This charging station can be reached by going to the west side of Cosgrove Street. Look for it between the Wright and Dan Patch avenues.
This spot is located on Cooper Street, to the east of the easily spottable Agriculture Horticulture Building.
More details about the charging stations can be found on the fair’s FAQ section of the official website.
Wheel Chair, Electric Vehicles, and Other Accessibilities at the Event
To create an inclusive space for visitors with accessibility needs, the Minnesota State Fair is tying up with HomeTown Mobility, an independent mobility service provider. The company will rent out mobility devices like electric mobility scooters, strollers, wagons, and wheelchairs from five different locations on the fairgrounds, just inside the main gate.
Reservations for accessibility vehicles can be made before the event on the state fair’s website.
For more accessibility information, check out the Accessibility Guide for the Minnesota State Fair.
Allowed Items and Prohibited Items
Before visiting the state fair, know which items are okay to bring in and which are prohibited.
- Food and non-alcoholic beverages
- Backpacks, bags, and coolers (except the Grandstand area); all are subject to searches
- Cameras are allowed but are subject to the fair’s photography and video footage guidelines
- Personal electric mobility scooters, strollers, wagons, or wheelchairs
- Any kind of weapon or items that look like they could be weapons
- Flammable and explosive objects like fireworks
- Alcoholic beverages
- Illegal substances or drugs
- Drone cameras and/or other remote-controlled devices
- Bikes, skateboards, skates, hoverboards
What would a fair be without its special events? Since the Minnesota State Fair is one of the country’s largest state fairs, you can expect it to have a good number of fair events. Some of its events include concerts at the Grandstand, free live music and shows, Monty’s Traveling Reptile Show, the All-Star Stunt Dogs Splash (which typically happens at the North Woods stage), Timberworks Lumberjack Show, and much more.
A full list of the Minnesota State fair’s daily events is released on the official Minnesota State Fair Schedule. Stay tuned for updates.
Apart from the fair events, the fairgrounds at Saint Paul also feature different, fun-filled events throughout the year. If you can’t make it to the Minnesota State Fair, you can check out non-fair events such as car exhibits, motorcycle shows, beer fests, horse shows, and more to see which ones you want to attend.
A full list of these events is updated regularly on the fairgrounds events calendar.
Best Entertainment and Things To Do at the Fair
There are many things to explore and experience at the fair, from tasting all the delicious food to enjoying the various attractions. Although the biggest shows happen at the Grandstand, the majority of events happen all over the fairgrounds.
Here’s a list of popular attractions you might want to visit at the fair this year:
- The thrilling Giant Slide
- The adrenaline pumping Skyride & Skyglider
- A love-filled boat ride at the Ye Old Mill
- Awe-inspiring butter sculptures at the Dairy Building
- A range of amusement parks, including Adventure Park, Kidway, and Mighty Midway
- A scary walk through the Haunted House
- A stunning exhibit of butterflies at the Butterfly House
- Fun-filled rides including carousels, a great big wheel, and much more
When and Where To Find the Best Food
As one of the biggest state fairs in North America, you know you can expect the fair food to surpass your expectations! The fair attracts some of the best food booths in the country that will entice you to try a good number of them.
While there are new booths every year, there are a few traditional food items that you must try if it’s your first time visiting. Here are the must-tries at the event:
- The Gizmo
- Sweet Martha’s Cookie Jar
- Funnel Cake
- Tom Thumb’s famous donuts
- Funnel Cloud at the Bad Weather Brewing Company
- Sausage by Cynthia
- Speedy’s About a Foot Long Hot Dogs
- Fresh French Fries
- Beer at the Fair State Brewing Cooperative
- Mouth Trap Cheese Curds
- Food with a view at Lulu’s Public House
To learn about the new food stalls that the state fair will be featuring this year, stay tuned for updates on the Fair Food website.
Where To Find Vegan Food
The Minnesota State Fair offers different vegan and vegetarian options. Some of the best vegan fair food you can find are:
- ChoriPops at the Midtown Global Market
- Grilled Sota Sandwich at Brim
- French Toast Bites at the Blue Barn
- The Falafelicious Hummus Bowl at Baba’s
- Apple pie from Sara’s Tipsy Pies
- Cinnamon Roasted Almonds
Wrapping Up the Minnesota State Fair Guide for 2022
The Minnesota State Fair is a 12-day gala rife with adventurous rides, exciting live concerts, music shows, scrumptious food, and so much more that you can only experience when you are at the fair. I
If you’re planning to visit the annual event this year, it’s good to plan which rides, booths, shows, and food you want to try out. We hope this Minnesota State Fair guide will help you, your friends, and your family have a great time at the fair!
For more amazing adventures, check out our Minnesota Guides page.