FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. — With a Wednesday morning announcement on social media, the State Fair may have just saved summer.
The first-ever Minnesota State Fair Food Parade is a drive-thru experience featuring 16 vendors. A limited number of tickets go on sale Friday, July 31st. Admission for each vehicle will cost $20, and tickets must be purchased online. Proceeds will go towards Minnesota State Fair operations.
Dates for the drive-thru are Aug. 20-23, 27-30 and Sept. 3-7.
The planned 1.5 mile route snakes through the Fairgrounds, with games, trivia and entertainment along the way. All food service will be conducted at the vehicle window following health and safety protocols.
The 16 participating vendors are: Turkey to Go, Tom Thumb Donuts, Fresh French Fries, Sweets & Treats, Mouth Trap Cheese Curds, Que Viet, Pronto Pups, Pitchfork Sausage/Butcher Boys London Broil, Dairy Goodness Bar by Midwest Dairy, West Indies Soul Food, Foot Long Hot Dogs & Corn Dogs, Giggles’ Campfire Grill, Cheese On-A-Stick and Fresh-Squeezed Lemonade, The Hangar, El Sol Mexican Foods and Sweet Martha’s Cookie Jar.
A food drive in partnership with Cub Foods, benefiting Second Harvest Heartland will also be included in the Parade activities.
Wednesday's announcement comes after the 2020 fair was canceled because of coronavirus concerns back in May, only the sixth time in its history.
At that time general manager Jerry Hammer said, "this is the time of year when things really need to take off, and we can't do it. There's not time," referring to uncertainties about the pandemic, and planning for an unknown future.
"If somehow we were able to cobble a fair together... you wouldn't like it, you wouldn't recognize it," Hammer said. "We all love the fair. That's exactly why we can't have a fair. This is about doing the right thing for the future of the fair."
Throughout the summer, lovers of the Minnesota tradition have done their best to replicate a fair experience. To make up for lost revenue, many fair vendors have set up their stands in parking lots and on street corners across the metro. There's even a Facebook group formed specifically for tracking down your favorite treats.
Lift Bridge Brewery in Stillwater is selling their State Fair beers, mini-donut and key lime pie, in to-go crowlers and in their tap room. You can even buy an official State Fair cup to toast fond memories of fairs past.