The best thing about the end of summer in Minnesota is the Minnesota State Fair and it’s almost here!
I’m super bummed that summer goes so fast, but I’m happy that we have a fabulous state fair, one that was rated the #1 state fair in the nation! The 2019 Great Minnesota Get-Together runs Aug. 22 through Labor Day, Sept. 2.
You probably know how expensive the fair can be. It’s hard to spend less than $100 within a few hours just between admission, food and rides! But there ARE many ways to save with a little bit of planning.
To save money, I personally recommend:
1) getting your ticket in advance (or going on a special deal day),
2) sharing a Blue Ribbon coupon book with someone else (there are WAY too many coupons for one family to use),
3) studying the map, the schedules of free events and entertainment, and the Deals, Drawings & Giveaways Guide before you go to plan out your visit,
4) parking for free and using their free bus transportation to and from the fair,
5) bringing your own water bottle and filling it up for free at water fountains throughout the fair,
6) using their free app to help you find your way around.
Here are all the ways you can save, gathered from my own experiences plus directly from State Fair materials:
A good way to save on tickets is to get them before the fair starts!
Pre-fair discount admission tickets are $12 (which is a $3 discount off the regular adult admission price and a $1 discount off the regular seniors and kids admission prices) and are valid any day of the fair. Also prior to the fair, Mighty Midway and Kidway ride & game tickets are $15 for a sheet of 25 (a $10 savings!).
Note that the admission price went up $1 this year from 2018, but the game tickets stayed the same price.
Where do you get them?
Discounted State Fair admission tickets, discount Mighty Midway and Kidway ride & game tickets, and Blue Ribbon Bargain Books (sponsored by Cub) are available through Aug. 21 at the State Fairgrounds Ticket Office off Como Avenue (Loop Gate #9), Minneapolis Visitor Information, participating Cub stores and numerous locations in greater Minnesota and Hudson, Wis. (while supplies last). A complete list of sales outlets is available at mnstatefair.org/tickets_discounts/admission.html or by calling (651) 288-4427.
Discount tickets can also be purchased online at mnstatefair.org until 9pm on August 21st! (This is the first year this has been offered online!)
During the fair, regular admission is:
$15 for adults (13-64)
$13 for seniors (65+)
$13 for kids (5-12)
Children (4 and under) are always admitted FREE.
Mighty Midway and Kidway tickets purchased at the fair are $1 per ticket, $25 per sheet of 30 tickets or $40 per sheet of 54 tickets. Throughout the fair, Blue Ribbon Bargain Books are $5 and available at State FairWear Gift Shops and Bargain Book & State Fair Poster Carts.
Special Deal Days
If you can get to the fair on one of their special deal days, definitely plan to! Almost everyone can qualify for a discount on one or more of the days. Here are the discount days:
Thrifty Thursday, Aug. 22. The first day of the fair! Discounted admission is $13 for adults (13-64) and $10 for kids (5-12) when purchased at the gate.
Monday, Aug. 26 is Seniors & Kids Day. Seniors (65+) and kids (5-12) are admitted for $10 when tickets are purchased at the gate.
Military Appreciation Day is Tuesday, Aug. 27, when active military and their families, as well as retired and veteran military and their spouses, are admitted for $10 when they purchase admission at the gate with documentation of U.S. military service.
Wednesday, Aug. 28 is Read & Ride Day. Guests presenting valid public library cards when purchasing admission at the gate are admitted for the following discounted prices: Adults (13-64) $13; seniors (65+) $10; and kids (5-12) $10. (One discount per card)
Seniors Day is Thursday, Aug. 29. Seniors (65+) are admitted for $10 when purchasing tickets at the gate.
Labor Day, Sept. 2, is Kids & Last Chance Day when kids (5-12) are admitted for $10 when purchasing tickets at the gate.
In addition, many vendors feature special day deals on
- Thrifty Thursday, Aug. 22
- Seniors & Kids Day, Aug. 26
- Military Appreciation Day, Aug. 27
- Seniors Day, August 29
- Kids & Last Chance Day, Sept. 2
Participating vendors will display a special deal sign and are listed in the Deals, Drawings & Giveaways Guide (sponsored by Minnesota Rusco) available at all information booths and at mnstatefair.org. Select vendors also feature closeout prices on Kids & Last Chance Day, Sept. 2.
More Fun for Less at Mighty Midway & Kidway
Specials are offered every weekday on rides and games at the Mighty Midway and Kidway (sponsored by DISH).
All-day specials run Thursday, Aug. 22; Monday, Aug. 26; Wednesday, Aug. 28; and Monday, Sept. 2. Early Bird specials are offered until 1 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 23; Tuesday, Aug. 27; Thursday, Aug. 29; and Friday, Aug. 30.
Blue Ribbon Bargain Book
A few times I was lucky when we were at the State Fair and someone handed me their blue ribbon bargain book as they were leaving! We used a few of them and I decided that they can be a great deal, especially if you’re going with a group and can share it. You can see what’s in this year’s book here.
The Blue Ribbon Bargain Book is $5 and has 150 coupons for food, merchandise and attractions throughout the fairgrounds:
- Coupons are valid all 12 days of the fair and a preview of bargains is available at mnstatefair.org.
- Bargain Books are available at State Fair, Gift Shops and Bargain Book & State Fair Poster Carts at the fairgrounds during the fair.
ABOVE: That’s a Sara’s Tipsy Pie I got at the fair. These are YUMM-O. You can find them in the Food Building. Plus there’s a coupon for $2.50 off a pie (regularly $7) in the Blue Ribbon Bargain Book. Yay!
Deals, Drawings & Giveaways Guides
Available for pick up at any information booth, the Deals, Drawings & Giveaways Guide details special day deals, items available for $1 or less, freebies and places to sign up and win prizes.
You can also view the Guide HERE! (Do some planning in advance and save time and money!)
Free Entertainment and Attractions!
There is a lot of fun included as part of admission, including fun for kids, fireworks, live entertainment and more. Here is a list of what you can find for free:
• Nightly fireworks spectacular (sponsored by Mazda)
• Live music and entertainment all day and night at stages throughout the fairgrounds
• The daily parade at 2 p.m. featuring the High School Marching Band Competition (sponsored by McDonald’s)
• The Giant Sing Along which is located north of Lee Avenue between Underwood and Cooper streets
• Music and fun just for kids at Family Fair (sponsored by Coca-Cola and Xcel Energy)
•3rd Lair SkatePark BMX and skateboarding demos now located at Adventure Park (sponsored by Coca-Cola), east of Mighty Midway
• Dog agility and police K-9 demonstrations outside the brand-new Pet Pavilions
• ANGRY BIRDS UNIVERSE: THE EXHIBITION is the exhibit in the North End Event Center giving fair fans of all ages the chance to explore art and science concepts through unique, hands-on interactives.
• FAN Central (sponsored by Xfinity), which features local sports teams and merchandise
• The CHS Miracle of Birth Center, where nearly 200 newborn calves, lambs and piglets will be born during the fair’s 12-day run
• A wide variety of horses that can be seen daily throughout the fair in the Horse Barn but also competing as part of the Minnesota State Fair Horse Show (sponsored by Tractor Supply Co.), free with fair admission.
• The finest needlework, handcrafts, baking and canning that Minnesota has to offer presented in the Creative Activities Building, along with the Cambria Kitchen
• Fruit, wine, Christmas tree, crop art, flower, vegetable, potato, bee & honey contests along with the Giant Pumpkin Contest (sponsored by North Suburban Eye Specialists) in the Agriculture Horticulture Building (sponsored by Bremer Bank)
• The Grandstand Exhibit Building (sponsored by Sleep Number), which has two levels of can’t-miss shopping at 200 vendors
• Thank a Farmer Magic Show (sponsored by Minnesota Farm Bureau Foundation and Minnesota Livestock Breeders Association) on the Christensen Farms Stage where children of all ages learn about the role agriculture plays in our daily lives
• The 4-H Poultry Prince & Princess Competition (sponsored by Gold’n Plump), which recognizes young leaders in Minnesota’s poultry industry
• Insight, ideas and products for fair guests planning to update or remodel their homes in the Home Improvement Building (sponsored by LeafFilter)
• The Timberworks Lumberjack and All-Star Stunt Dogs Splash shows at The North Woods (sponsored by Good Health Saunas)
• The Kemps Little Farm Hands agricultural education experience (sponsored by Kemps, Cub, John Deere Company, Cargill and Minnesota Corn Growers Association)
• Karaoke and live music in The Garden (sponsored by Treasure Island Resort & Casino)
• And much, much more – use the Fair Finder or daily schedules at mnstatefair.org or printed daily schedules available at any information booth for a complete list of activities.
Free Minnesota State Fair App
The free Minnesota State Fair App is the official iPhone and Android smartphone users’ guide to navigating the Great Minnesota Get-Together. It is available through the App Store and Google Play and features the popular Fair Finder, which is a tool to search for State Fair foods, shops and booths. It also includes daily schedule information.
Free Information & Guest Services
The Great Minnesota Get-Together offers many free services and amenities, including:
• Free Park & Ride service from more than 30 Twin Cities metro locations
• App-based ride services, such as Uber & Lyft, have two designated drop-off and pick-up areas (sponsored by Lyft) for getting to and from the fair.
• Free trolley rides on the north end of the fairgrounds. In addition, a free ADA-accessible trolley run along Randall Avenue with stops at Buford Avenue and Gate #18 at Dan Elmer Way. The trolley runs 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 3 to 9 p.m. daily
• Information booths stocked with free maps (sponsored by Star Tribune); daily schedules (sponsored by Rally Health); specialty brochures; complimentary sunscreen; Deals, Drawings and Giveaways Guides (sponsored by Minnesota Rusco); free identification wristbands to help reunite lost children and vulnerable adults with their families or guardians; and more.
• First Aid Stations (sponsored by Regions Hospital) located on the east and west ends of the fairgrounds
• A Wi-Fi hotspot at the west Grandstand Plaza (sponsored by DragNFly Wireless)
• The Relax & Recharge Station (sponsored by Humana), which features rocking chairs, a place to charge phones and more, located in Ramberg Music Café (sponsored by Cal Spas)
• Charging stations (sponsored by Device Pitstop) for cell phones at several locations on the fairgrounds
For more information about check out the official website: mnstatefair.org. I hope you have a blast!
(Fireworks and cover photos courtesy of mnstatefair.org).
Looking for ways to save beyond the Minnesota State Fair?
There are places around the Twin Cities offering great deals during this time so check out my roundup here!