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11 awesome and iconic photo stops at the Minnesota State Fair

Some are those time-honored spots that can instantly conjure up the smell of French fries, cotton candy and cow barns. Others... are just plain FUN.

FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. — Few things can trigger good memories faster than walking through the front gates of the Minnesota State Fair.

Your first Pronto Pup or ride on the Midway. Fighting with your brother to see who got to be first to sit on the shiny green John Deere tractor up on Machinery Hill. Holding the hand of your first crush while strolling past the Grandstand. For some, the fair is built on those memories.

Others are a bit more tangible in hanging on to the fair experience, preferring to capture moments at the Great Minnesota Get-Together via photo or video so they can share with family and friends... or look at them in the depths of winter and know that bucket of Sweet Martha's Cookies is just months away.

Some of the most popular photo backdrops are time-honored spots that can conjure up the smell of French fries, cotton candy and cow barns just by looking at them. Others... are just plain FUN.

Here are our top 11 Minnesota State Fair photo site picks for 2022.  

1. The Front Gates: This one seems obvious, but for many of the 100,000-plus that arrive and leave the grounds each day, this is the first and last thing they see. A backdrop fitting for a 1950s postcard. 1265 Snelling Ave N, St Paul. 

Credit: KARE

2. Great Big Wheel: At 15-stories high, the Great Big Wheel is considered one of the tallest traveling giant Ferris wheels in North America. It carries riders 156 feet in the air, which gives you a great aerial view of the grounds, and from a low angle it is just plain cool-looking. Near the intersection of Cooper St. and Randall Ave.  

Credit: KARE
Great Big Wheel

3. Greetings From Minnesota Mural: Suspended on the east side of the Food Building, this backdrop features all the classic Minnesota icons, from a loon and the State Capitol dome to Split Rock Lighthouse and Prince's guitar. It's a great setting for selfies, small groups or a dozen of your best pals. If you're from out of state, let em' know you were here, and if you're from Minnesota.... REPRESENT!!!! 

Credit: KARE
Minnesota mural

4. Big or Gigantic Things: Want a great, memorable picture? Put something huge in it. There are plenty of options at the State Fair, from champion giant pumpkins to the biggest boar on the grounds. Another advantage... if you are on your third Pronto Pup and aren't exactly feeling svelte, large things can be slimming. 

Credit: KARE
The Tishner-Hibben-Olson families admire the biggest boar at the fair.

5. The DNR Fire Tower: Another great option for grabbing that wide angle or panoramic overhead shot. The tower is 65-feet tall and takes 84 individual steps to get to the top, which means you can get a workout in while pursuing that perfect shot of the fairgrounds.

6. The Sky Ride: As a kid it felt like you were 30,000 feet in the air looking down at ants. In truth the Sky Ride isn't much taller than climbing on your roof to clean the gutters, but a trip on the cable cars gives you a wider view of what you see on the ground, with a calming sway to boot. Take a pic of your companion, or the people you know one car back. 

Credit: KARE
The Sky Ride

7. Random Cutouts: You'll find these plywood photo ops sprinkled across the fairgrounds, offering a chance for you and a pal to stick your faces through a hole and assume the identity of everything from a barmaid to a sheep. Especially effective when giving your photo chum the side-eye. 

Credit: KARE
Cutouts are always an excellent go-to when it comes to memorable fair pics.

8. Anything on a stick: It would seem like a cliché if it wasn't the truth: All foods just seem to taste better at the fair when you're biting them off a pointy piece of wood while at the same time trying to not get a sliver or poke the roof of your mouth. From deep fried candy bars to alligator and waffles, they're both delicious and handy to carry. A shot of you holding onto a massive pork chop with a stick through it SCREAMS Minnesota State Fair. 

Credit: KARE
New KARE friends enjoy deep-fried candy bars on a stick.

8. Humanity Hill: If friends refuse to believe how crowded the Great Minnesota Get-Together can be, climb to the crown of Judson Ave. looking west down the hill at Nelson and beyond and snap a pic. On a Saturday afternoon a compressed frame can make it look like a million people are wandering that street along. 

Credit: KARE
Judson Ave. near Nelson St.

10.State Fair Grandstand: The tall brick façade towers over the fairgrounds, as much a fortress as you'll find in Falcon Heights. Everyone from Johnny Cash and Willie to Minnesota's own Bob Dylan has played there, and most who have seen a show there have a story about it (Think Miranda Lambert's 2021 lightning storm, or that dude at REO Speedwagon who kept spilling beer on you).

Credit: KARE

11. KARE Barn - Pics on a Stick: Forgive us for being homers, but there are some pretty good photo ops both inside and out of our State Fair home base. If our on-air folks happen to be there anchoring shows or doing stories, they're usually always up for a photo. And if they're not around, pics on a stick make for a fun substitute. Stop on by for a glass of cold water... We'd LOVE to see you at the KARE 11 Barn!

Credit: KARE
KARE 11 Sunrise weather man Guy Brown hangs with a couple new friends outside the KARE Barn.
Credit: KARE
KARE Barn - Pics on a Stick

Watch more from the Minnesota State Fair

Watch the latest coverage of the 2022 Great Minnesota Get-Together from KARE 11 in our YouTube playlist:



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