50+ Free Shows at the Minnesota State Fair, Opening Weekend

Do you realize how much free programming happens at the fair? From Belinda Carlisle to lumberjack feats, here’s what to catch
Leinie Lodge Bandshell
Leinie Lodge Bandshell

Courtesy Minnesota State Fair

We’ve got you covered for (soon to be in) Minnesota State Fair food and drinks. Critic Jason DeRusha has already done gone ranked the new 2019 State Fair foods, we’ve rounded up the new State Fair foods in full if you’re a completist—plus the new beers, plus the new beers by location. And now, Jason has given his definitive verdict on what to eat and what not to eat of the fair’s new foods.

Make sure to swing by the new food vendors, too. Or, if you want a classic fair experience, Jason also bullet-pointed the can’t-miss, perennial food favorites (like Sweet Martha’s cookies and Fresh French Fries).

What’s left? Just for you to park those extra pounds in front of a stage and take in a free show. There are plenty. Literally almost 1,000. Because, yeah. There’s more to do here than stuff your face. (Here’s the Grandstand lineup, by the way. Not free.)

Out of more than 100 acts, a couple notable names include Dessa at the Leinie Lodge Bandshell Stage on Sept. 1 and 2, where Belinda Carlisle performs opening weekend, and Kat Perkins (of The Voice) on the International Bazaar Stage Aug. 26 and 27.

Check out the schedule for this weekend here:

Leinie Lodge Bandshell Stage

What: Big-name talent on the stage that’s shaped like a triangle

Where: Across from the Food Building, north of the Space Tower

Aug. 22 and 23

Dawson Hollow, 10:30 a.m., 11:45 a.m.

Mac McAnally, 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m.

Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band, 3:30 p.m., 4:45 p.m.

MSF Amateur Talent Contest, 6 p.m. (through Aug. 31)

Belinda Carlisle, 8:30 p.m. (Bandshell Tonight! Concert Series)

Aug. 24 and 25

Chad Przybylski and His Polka Rhythms, 10:30 a.m., 11:45 a.m.

The Quebe Sisters, 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m.

Brandon Lay, 3:30 p.m., 4:45 p.m.

Herman’s Hermits Starring Peter Noone, 8:30 p.m. (Bandshell Tonight! Concert Series)

Cosgrove Stage
Cosgrove Stage

Courtesy Minnesota State Fair

Cosgrove Stage

What: Mostly dance, from square to swing, clogging to Zumba

Where: On Cosgrove Street, south of the 4-H Building, across from the Home Improvement Building

Aug. 22

Young Fiddlers Association of Minnesota, 10 a.m., 11 a.m., noon

Square Dance Federation of Music, 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m.

Cadenza, 3:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.

Aug. 23

Krewe de Walleye, 10 a.m., 11 a.m., noon

Square Dance Federation of Music, 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m.

Rhythym & Swing, 3:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.

Aug. 24

West Coast Swing Dancers, 10 a.m., 11 a.m., noon

Tapestry Folk Dance Center, 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m.

Cre.ture Crew, 3:30 pm, 4:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.

Aug. 25

Royal Sil-O-Ets Cloggers, 10 a.m., 11 a.m., noon

Line Dance Minnesota, 3:30 pm, 4:30 pm, 5:30 pm

Family Fair Stage
Family Fair Stage

Courtesy Minnesota State Fair

Family Fair Stage in Baldwin Park

What: Family-friendly entertainment, goofy performers, circus-y acts

Where: On the corner of Randall Avenue and Cosgrove Street, across from the 4-H Building and the Fine Arts Center

Aug. 22 and 23

Greg Frisbee, 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 3 p.m.

Sean Emery, 12:30 p.m., 5 p.m.

Break-Shop Bump’n, 1:30 p.m., 4 p.m., 6 p.m.

MSF County Fair Talent Contest, 7 p.m. (daily through Aug. 31)

Aug. 24 and 25

The Chipper Experience, 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 3 p.m.

Festival of Nations Demo Stage
Festival of Nations Demo Stage

Courtesy Minnesota State Fair

Festival of Nations Demo Stage

What: Performances spanning the globe, “from Russian accordionists to Lebanese belly dancers”

Where: Behind the Haunted House on Underwood Street (close to the International Bazaar Stage)

Aug. 22

Cultural Society of Filipino-Americans Dance Troupe, noon, 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m., 4:30 p.m.

Aug. 23

African American Dancers, noon, 1:30 p.m.

Turkish Dancers, 3 p.m., 4:30 p.m.

Aug. 24

Armenian Dance Ensemble, noon, 1:30 p.m.

Al-Bahira Middle Eastern Dance Theater, 3 p.m., 4:30 p.m.

Aug. 25

Thai Dancers, noon, 3 p.m.

Izvorasul Romanian Dance Ensemble, 1:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m.

3rd Lair SkatePark
3rd Lair SkatePark

Courtesy Minnesota State Fair

3rd Lair SkatePark

What: Skate park for watching cool flips and tricks

Where: On the corner of West Dan Patch Avenue and Chambers Street, across from the Grandstand

Daredevil skateboard and BMX bike demonstrations, 10:30 a.m., noon, 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 6 p.m., 7:30 p.m. (daily)

International Bazaar Stage
International Bazaar Stage

Courtesy Minnesota State Fair

International Bazaar Stage

What: Artists from around the state/world showcase jazz, polka, funk, R&B, Tex-Mex, dance, rock, brass…

Where: Next to the Haunted House on Underwood Street (close to the Festival of Nations Demo Stage)

Aug. 22 and 23

Cheremosh Ukrainian Dance Ensemble, 10:45 a.m., noon, 1:15 p.m.

Intoxicats, 3:15 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 5:45 p.m.

Westside Band (Bazaar After Dark)

Aug. 24 and 25

Papa Shalita, 10:45 a.m., noon, 1:15 p.m.

Native Pride Dancers, 3:15 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 5:45 p.m.

MFELLAZ (Bazaar After Dark)

Ramberg Music Cafe Stage
Ramberg Music Cafe Stage

Courtesy Minnesota State Fair

Ramberg Music Cafe Stage

What: Singer-songwriters croon country, bluegrass, other folksy sounds

Where: On Judson Avenue, across from the Dairy Building

Aug. 22

The Fairlanes, 10:30 a.m., 11:45 a.m., 1 p.m.

Steve Noonan, 3:15 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 5:45 p.m.

Aug. 23

Steve Noonan, 10:30 a.m., 11:45 a.m., 1 p.m.

The Fairlanes, 3:15 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 5:45 p.m.

Aug. 24

Tony Cuchetti, 10:30 a.m., 11:45 a.m., 1 p.m.

Rich Lewis Band, 3:15 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 5:45 p.m.

Aug. 25

Rich Lewis Band, 10:30 a.m., 11:45 a.m., 1 p.m.

Tony Cuchetti, 3:15 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 5:45 p.m.

Schell's Stage at Schilling Amphitheater
Schell’s Stage at Schilling Amphitheater

Courtesy Minnesota State Far

Schell’s Stage at Schilling Amphitheater

What: Indie rock, folk, pop, hardcore fiddling—and “History on a Stick” every morning at 9:30 and 10:30 a.m.

Where: North of the West End Market, east of the Grandstand

Aug. 22 and 23

Sarah Morris, 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m.

Joyann Parker, 3 p.m., 4 p.m., 5 p.m.

Mentalist Noah Sonie, 6 p.m.

Nooky Jones, 8 p.m. (West End at Sunset Concert Series)

Aug. 24 and 25

The Minnesota State Fiddle Contest, 11:30 a.m.

Sawyer’s Dream, 3 p.m., 4 p.m., 5 p.m.

Hit Ticket, 6 p.m.

Early Eyes, 8 p.m. (West End at Sunset Concert Series)

The North Woods Stage
The North Woods Stage

Courtesy Minnesota State Fair

The North Woods Stage

What: Impressive pups and lumberjacks/jills—i.e., plenty of sawing, panting

Where: On the corner of Cooper Street and Lee Avenue, across from Little Farm Hands

All-Star Stunt Dogs Splash, 11 a.m., 2 p.m., 4:30 p.m. (daily)

Timberworks Lumberjack Show, noon, 3 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 7 p.m. (daily)

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