The Great Minnesota Get-Together is just that: great. Taking place the 12 days leading up to and through Labor Day (this year that’s Aug. 22-Sept. 2), the fair has been an end-of-the-summer tradition since 1859, the year after Minnesota was granted statehood. With attendance rates of nearly 1.8 million, it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in the region. And it’s no wonder; with an array of entertainment, music, animals, agriculture, rides, games, food and more, there’s something here for everyone.
The biggest draw for me is always the food. I make the rounds to my favorites—roasted corn on the cob, cheese curds, Sweet Martha’s cookies and fresh cut French fries—but I always make an effort to try something new, too. This year I’m looking forward to cocoa cheese bites (they sound just crazy enough to be delicious), deep fried olives (on a stick, of course), Philly fries, flavored corndogs and French Meadow Bakery’s take on the cronut, a dough-sant. With nearly 40 new choices, the hardest part will be either be choosing, or finding extra room in your stomach. (Tip: easily locate foods and their locations using the fair’s food finder.)
Each night you’ll find big name musical acts on the Grandstand stage, with this year’s performers including Sheryl Crow (Aug. 25), the Internet Cat Video Festival (Aug. 28), Train (Aug. 29), Trampled by Turtles (Aug. 30) and Tim McGraw (Sept. 2). Plus there’s always free stage entertainment at the Leinie Lodge Bandshell, Bazaar and Heritage Square, among other places.
Photo by Todd Buchanan
For adventurers of all ages, a stop at Midway or Kidway is a must. There are 30-some rides and shows at each, with new ones such as the Air Raid, which will take you on an acrobatic flight in all directions, the beach-themed Big Bamboo Fun House, Riptide rollercoaster and Puppy Express mini rollercoaster.
Considering that the fair started as a way to highlight agriculture and encourage farming, you’ll want to witness that part of our culture at places like the CHS Miracle of Birth Center or moo, baa and oink booths. However, other attractions are vast, with new ones including the Dr. Seuss-themed Minnesota State Florist Association’s Floralpalooza, “ice” skating, history walking and cell phone tours, and interactive video adventures.
The Minnesota State Fair
1265 North Snelling Ave. N., St. Paul