The Minnesota State Fair is built on a base of the old and familiar, but every year there is plenty of new stuff to keep things fresh.
Last month fair officials took the wraps off new food items that will be available in Falcon Heights in August, and on Wednesday they unveiled new buildings, attractions and exhibits. Some favorite stops will be in new places on the fairgrounds.
Here are some places and things the folks at the fair think you should know about.
The New North End
The expanded redevelopment of the fair's North End features all kinds of new wrinkles.
- North End Event Center, the area’s stunning brand-new centerpiece, which houses a 12,000-square-foot state-of-the-art exhibit hall that will be the fair-time home to annually changing museum-quality exhibits that fair guests can enjoy free with fair admission. The inaugural exhibit is ANGRY BIRDS UNIVERSE: THE EXHIBITION (see description below). During non-fair time, the event center is available to rent for special events.
- Minnesota Corn Fairstalk, a 24-foot-tall art installation celebrating Minnesota agriculture (see description below).
- Minnesota Marquees, three shade structures on the plaza, which feature exhibit panels showcasing iconic, innovative and influential people, institutions and events from our state.
- The opportunity to pose for photos next to 6-foot-tall figures created by prominent Minnesota artist Adam Turman: State Fair mascot Fairchild; Paul Bunyan; Babe the Blue Ox; and Hotdish Girl, made famous in Turman’s artwork.
- Minnesota-based specialty merchants, which make their State Fair debut at the North End: Brim featuring the Grilled Sota Sandwich, Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, GoodThings, Handsome Cycles, Homespun Gifts & Décor, Minnesota Distillers Guild, and Summer Lakes Beverage.
- The North End neighborhood, which is also home to: several rotating touring promotional exhibits; Arts A’Fair pop-up performances; activities for Governor’s Fire Prevention Day (Aug. 23) and Minnesota State Patrol Day (Aug. 26); Pet Pavilions and Outdoor Demonstration Area; The Hangar food and beverage establishment; guest services such as wheelchair and electric scooter rental, an information booth, State FairWear Gift Shop, Minnesota State Fair Foundation booth, the North End gate, and drop-off/pick-up locations for app-based ride services and Metro Mobility.
The North End is located north of Murphy Avenue at the north end of the fairgrounds.
ANGRY BIRDS UNIVERSE: THE EXHIBITION in the North End Event Center
Making its Midwest debut, ANGRY BIRDS UNIVERSE: THE EXHIBITION is the inaugural exhibit in the North End Event Center and is only at the 2019 State Fair. Based on the famous game and characters that took the world by storm, this exhibit gives fair fans of all ages the chance to explore art and science concepts through unique, hands-on interactives. “Be the bird” and explore science, technology, engineering, art and math through unique, hands-on interactives: Build and race handheld vehicles; launch larger-than-life Angry Birds with massive slingshots; try your hand in a high-tech design studio; learn about egg sizes, wing span and flight dynamics; and propel down a zip line to knock over enormous foam structures – these are just some of the exhibit’s unique activities. Physics, animation, gravity, magnetics, geometry and more have never been so fun. This exhibit is free with fair admission.
Located in the North End Event Center, north of Murphy Avenue. 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
Minnesota Corn Fairstalk
Greeting guests as they meander through the North End, this 24-foot-tall one-of-a-kind art installation celebrates Minnesota agriculture. Giant LED screens, displaying fun facts about corn and farming, food and the fair, are integrated into the design of what is sure to become an iconic photo stop for fair visitors. Fair guests are invited to contribute to the video content shown on the Minnesota Corn Fairstalk. Use #mnstatefair in your social media posts showing the best parts of your fair day, and your post may be shown on the Minnesota Corn Fairstalk LED screens. Named for the Minnesota Corn Growers Association and Minnesota Corn Research & Promotion Council in recognition for their gift to the North End Campaign.
Located at the North End, north of Murphy Avenue, west of the North End Event Center.
The Sioux Chef® Presents the Indigenous Food Lab at Dan Patch Park
Celebrate the richness, beauty and diversity of Minnesota’s indigenous foods and culture in a special daylong program from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 1, at Dan Patch Park. Throughout the day, indigenous chefs will demonstrate native foods from North America and share the history, cultural significance, culinary and medicinal uses, and preservation techniques of an array of ingredients and dishes. Winner of a prestigious James Beard Award, Chef Sean Sherman will present a cooking demonstration and discuss the foundations of the Indigenous Food Systems. Also taking center stage are traditional drumming, singing and dancing that showcase the cultural artistry of Minnesota tribes. The program will also feature NATIFS (North American Traditional Indigenous Food Systems), a non-profit organization focused on education and access to Native foods, and introduce the Indigenous Food Lab, a culinary training center coming to the Twin Cities in 2020. Free with fair admission. Presented with the support of the Minnesota State Fair Foundation.
Located at Dan Patch Park
Goats, one of the fastest-growing livestock exhibitions at the State Fair (more than 1,400 goats came to the fair last year), will now have their own education station. Learn more about the many goat breeds through activities and displays. Get answers to fascinating questions about the tassels that hang from a goat’s neck (they’re called wattles), how much milk goats produce, why some goat breeds have such different-looking ears, a goat anatomy model and more. The Goat Booth is open Aug. 30-Sept. 2.
Located inside the south entrance of the Sheep & Poultry Barn, north of Judson Avenue between Liggett and Clough streets, Friday, Aug. 30, 1 - 9 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Monday, Sept. 2, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
For those seeking thrills on the Mighty Midway there are three new rides debuting at the fair this year.
New at Mighty Midway:
- Sea Ray: Hop on board a giant pirate ship for a wild ride that swings from side to side – as if you’re on a high-seas adventure.
- Zero Gravity: Supersonic spins and centrifugal force combine for an adrenaline-rushing ride.
- New at Kidway, a Merry-Go-Round features colorful horses to take tots for a spin on this classic carnival ride.
The Giant Slide Turns 50!
The iconic five-story Giant Slide celebrates its 50th anniversary at the 2019 Minnesota State Fair. An estimated 9 million fair guests have ridden this landmark attraction, which is owned and operated by three generations of the Pittroffs, the family that first brought the slide to the fair in 1969. Stop by for a selfie and buy a limited-edition commemorative T-shirt and hat (available only at the 2019 State Fair and while supplies last). Rides on the Giant Slide are $2.50 per person. (Riders must be 45” or taller to ride unaccompanied; anyone under 45” must ride with a parent or guardian.)
Located on the east side of Nelson Street, north of Carnes Avenue. Open 8 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. daily.
Park and Ride lots gain more and more followers each year, allowing fairgoers to get in and out of the grounds without the hassles and cost of parking.
- 2955 Centre Pointe Drive, between 35W and Cleveland Avenue, north of the Courtyard by Marriott, Roseville, 55113 (open 8 a.m. to midnight all 12 days of the fair; drop-off/pick-up at Transit Hub)
- Grace Lutheran Church, 1730 Old Hudson Rd., St. Paul, 55106 (open 8 a.m. to midnight Monday through Saturday; 1 p.m. to midnight Sunday; drop-off/pick-up at Transit Hub)
***Please note that parking at Roseville Area High School is not available this year.
Minnesota Healing Garden
Dozens of plants known for their healing and therapeutic properties fill the beautifully designed State Fair Healing Garden. In 2019, Phase 1 of the garden will include educational signage amidst the waterfalls and gazebo pointing out each plant and explaining its medicinal uses. Get inspired to integrate the healing power of plants into your health regimen.
Located on the east side of Cosgrove Street on the south side of the 4-H Building.
The Creative Activities building is a favorite stop for many fairgoers, hosting everything from food and crafts to competitions. Here’s an overview of what’s new this year:
- Premier, award-winning chefs present demonstrations in the Cambria Kitchen on Aug. 22: Diane Moua, executive pastry chef at Bellecour, 10 a.m.; Wyatt Evans, chef de cuisine at P.S. Steak, 2 p.m.; Nick Vasquez, chef de cuisine at Monello, 4 p.m.
- The talent of your fellow Minnesotans will amaze you in this year’s themed competitions: “Have you ever seen a dairy cow dance?” quilt on-a-stick; “Minnesota Gardens” cookie decorating; and “My Favorite Exhibits at the Minnesota State Fair” cake decorating.
- The intricate beauty of glass arts takes over the center display case in “Minnesota Master part Deux,” an exhibition of work created by artists with Foci Minnesota Center for Glass Arts.
- An always-fascinating schedule in the Cambria Kitchen features these new presentations in 2019: 3 Cricketeers “Cooking with the Super Protein” (yes, crickets!); Popol Vuh – Centro Restaurant, cooking tips for “elevated Mexican cuisine”; and Surly Brewery chefs on beer-flavored meat, savory flavors, and pastry and beer making.
- Hand-picked blue-ribbon-winning recipes from the 2018 State Fair are featured on limited-run Recipe Card Round-Up cards available on select days: Black Raspberry Jam; Carrot Cake with Vanilla Bean Buttercream; Dill Pickles; Beer Bread Using a Minnesota Craft-Brewed Beer (Castle Danger Cream Ale); Apple Fritter Monkey Bread; and Chocolate Pistachio Cookies.
Located in the Creative Activities Building, on the northeast corner of Dan Patch Avenue and Cosgrove Street. 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
Eco Experience – New Highlights
At this award-winning exhibit, an array of new highlights features the latest in: easy, everyday reduce-reuse-recycle how-tos that impact our air and water; healthy cooking tips to reduce food waste; innovations in green technology; and other compelling topics on environmentally focused living. At this year’s Eco Experience, here’s a sampling of the questions fair guests will find answers to:
- An 18,000-pound block of ice in the center of the Eco Experience exhibit will melt away during the fair, raising awareness of how climate change is shortening Minnesota’s lake ice season and the implications for our economy and ecology. Sign up to be a citizen volunteer and help collect lake ice data.
- See a battery-powered lawn mower, snow blower and other equipment on display in the “Green Garage.”
- Interest in local foods has focused on vegetables, milk, meats and more. One food group that is found at most every meal and could make the biggest impact on our landscape is grains. Learn about the quality, flavor and nutrition of locally grown artisan grains, and the environmental benefits provided by regenerative, artisan grain production. Local chefs and foodmakers offer tips on how artisan grains can elevate your cooking.
- See a community solar garden array, a Nissan Leaf battery storage demonstration and more in the “Let’s Cool It! Connect to the Sun” exhibit.
- Learn easy ways to combine walking, biking and riding public transit to improve access to jobs, contribute to healthier lifestyles, reduce personal and household transportation costs, and increase transportation choice.
***Eco Experience is a partnership of the State Fair, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and more than 150 organizations and businesses across the state. It is the largest environmental education event of its kind in the country. Visit ecoexperience.org for more information. Free with fair admission. Refer to daily schedules at mnstatefair.org for a complete list of activities in Eco Experience.
Located in the Progress Center. Open daily 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Two popular attractions at the Minnesota State Fair have new locations for the 2019 State Fair:
- 3rd Lair SkatePark, presenting flips, tricks and daredevil skateboard and BMX bike demonstrations, is now at Adventure Park, on the southwest corner of West Dan Patch Avenue and Chambers Street. Seven shows daily – at 10:30 a.m., noon, 1:30, 3, 4:30, 6 and 7:30 p.m.
- Krazy Maze, a super-sized race against the clock to find the hidden letters – and the way out, is now located on the north side of Randall Avenue between Cooper and Cosgrove streets near Eco Experience.
As happens every year at the Great Minnesota Get-Together, there will be special promotional exhibits to check out. Fifteen special touring exhibits will make a stop at the fair in 2019. Among them:
- On the fair’s opening day of Aug. 22, with the help of guests who post fair photos on social media, outside the east entrance of the Grandstand building fair guests can watch as a surprise giant photo mosaic is revealed in real-time as more and more photos are added to the artwork. The final mosaic will be on display throughout the fair. Brought to you by Sleep Number, sponsor of the Grandstand building and Grandstand Concert Series.
- The Nintendo Switch Road Trip makes a stop at the State Fair, bringing playable demos of some of the hottest Nintendo Switch games, fun photo opportunities, Nintendo-themed challenges and more. (Aug. 30-Sept. 2)
- Free berry treats, cool prizes, photo opps and family fun will be served up in the colorful Driscoll’s #BerryTogether Berry Mobile promotional exhibit. (Aug. 30-Sept. 1)
Located throughout the fairgrounds.
To keep the State Fair experience fresh, there are new spins on already popular exhibits experiences
These popular and free State Fair experiences are adding new features in 2019:
- Pet Pavilions: “Read to a Breed” joins Read & Ride Day at the fair, giving children the opportunity to read to attentive dogs, cats, rabbits and other breeds of North Star Therapy Animals on Wednesday, Aug. 28, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Arts A’Fair: Four local performing groups debut at the fair as part of the Arts A’Fair series of pop-up showcases: Bucket Brigade Theater (Aug. 22-24), James Sewell Ballet (Aug. 25-27), Captain Willy DeWitt – Comedy Stunt Show (Aug. 28-30), and Twin Cities Trapeze Center (Aug. 25-27, Aug. 31-Sept. 2).
- Alphabet Forest: This popular word-discovery wonderland celebrates its 10th year at the fair with the debut of a magnetic poetry word-play creation station.
- Kemps Little Farm Hands: The littlest fair fans will get the scoop on soil and discover more about the ground we walk on.
Refer to the daily schedules at mnstatefair.org for details about the new features listed above.
Located throughout the fairgrounds.
New History Highlights
The History Walking Tour, a two-mile self-guided exploration of some of the State Fair’s most historically significant spots, introduces two new additions to the tour: The Early Fairs and the Sheep & Poultry Barn.
- Agricultural fairs in the Minnesota Territory began in 1854, flaunting the lush crops, healthy livestock and bustling society of the region to entice fair visitors to put down roots in Minnesota. Find out how many people attended the first fair after statehood in 1859 and other fun trivia to impress your friends.
- The Sheep & Poultry Barn was built in 1937 by members of the Works Progress Administration, an employment program during the Great Depression. The work of artists hired by the WPA can still be seen today on the outside of the barn.
- Pick up a tour brochure at any tour stop on the fairgrounds or the Minnesota Historical Society booth in the Education Building. Visit at least eight of the 12 stops and collect a prize. (See brochure for details.) The History Walking Tour is supported by the Minnesota State Fair Foundation and the Minnesota Historical Society. Free with fair admission.
Located on the southwest corner of Lee Avenue and Cooper Street and at the Sheep & Poultry Barn.
New Merchandise Vendors
For 2019, the Minnesota State Fair welcomes more than 50 new merchandise vendors selling goods including artwork, home décor, gadgets, toys, items for the outdoors, hobbies, beauty care, foodie fun, threads, accessories and more. These vendors join the nearly 1,000 existing merchants who offer exceptional merchandise.
For more information on new vendors at the 2019 Minnesota State Fair, visit the New Attractions section of our website. Beginning in early August, a complete list of vendors will be available at mnstatefair.org in the online, searchable Fair Finder, which is also part of the free State Fair app for iPhones and Androids.
Cattle Barn Update
On March 12, a section of the Cattle Barn sustained damage when a portion of the southeast corner of the roof collapsed into the building due to sliding snow load. Repair work began immediately and has included reconstructing the brick work, roofing, stalling, pipes, wiring and other internal features of the barn that were damaged. There have been no major disruptions to our fair operation in the livestock area, and the Cattle Barn will be in operational order for the run of the 2019 fair. The Cattle Barn was built in 1920 and covers 117,450 square feet.
Located on the south side of Judson Avenue between Stevens and Liggett streets.