Minnesota State Fair Must-Dos

Make sure to squeeze in time for the top 5 Minnesota State Fair must-dos

Image by Minnesota State Fair

By Kyle Smelter

A pilgrimage for many Minnesotans, the Minnesota State Fair—also affectionately known as the Great Minnesota Get-Together—will take place from Aug. 24 through Labor Day, Sept. 4 at the fairgrounds in St. Paul. Spread out over the 12 days, visitors can feast on nearly 500 foods available from 300 concessions; dance, laugh and sing along to more than 900 shows from over 100 acts at the fair’s many entertainment venues; buckle up for an adventure on the Space Tower, River Raft Ride, Skyglider or any of the other permanent attractions and Might Midway rides; and much more. But with so much to see and do, it can feel overwhelming for first time fairgoers and seasoned veterans alike, so we’ve compressed the 320 acres into 5 must-dos.

People sliding down the Giant Slide at the Minnesota State Fair.

Image by Minnesota State Fair

Giant Slide

No, it’s not a monument constructed to honor the evil empire that is the Green Bay Packers. This green and gold attraction brings more joy to a Minnesotan than a Vikings-Packers game usually does. The towering 50-foot high behemoth of joy stretches out for 170 feet over four large humps with microphones strung across to catch and broadcast every scream and laugh as riders fly down safely back to solid ground aboard their brown rugs on this magic carpet ride.

A person holding cheese curds at the Minnesota State Fair.

Image by smcgee/flickr

Fried Food

Loosen those belts (or wear pants with an elastic waistband), don’t eat supper the night before, and toss any dignity for your body’s wellbeing out the car window on your way there, because if the Minnesota State Fair does anything right, it’s fried food. From the age-old classic of cheese curds to the over-the-top candied bacon doughnut sliders, and the deep fried bologna, candy bars and twinkies in between, you’ll find all the artery-clogging food your heart doesn’t desire. But whatever your fried fare of choice is, these bad boys will slide through your system probably faster than you can make it to the port-a-potty. It’s no wonder the fair wipes its way through 22,000 rolls of toilet paper every year.

People walking through an entrance to the Minnesota State Fair.

Image by Minnesota State Fair

People Watching

Last year, almost 2 million people attended the 12-day affair. According to my math, that makes for almost 2 million people watching opportunities. Pull up a chair, grab a bag of mini donuts and a pint of chocolate chip cookie beer, and watch as families pushing strollers stop in the middle of the street and frustrate others around them because one of their children decided to plop down and start eating dirt, or take a gander at people who’ve been hitting the bottle since the gates opened try dancing at a live music show, and hit the Midway to watch men well out of their prime swing a sledgehammer and attempt to prove they’re the strongest at the fair, while also possibly throwing out their back at the High Striker (also known as the Strength Tester or Strongman Game). Unlike TV, there’s always something good on at the Minnesota State Fair.

A piglet at the Minnesota State Fair.

Image by Sharon Mollerus/flickr

CHS Miracle of Birth Center

Ducklings, piglets and calves, oh my! By far the cutest piece of the Minnesota State Fair, this little bundle-of-joy compound showcases live farm animals from the last moments of pregnancy to cleaning off their newborns. The most popular free exhibit at the Great Minnesota Get-Together, the CHS Miracle of Birth Center is the first place where nearly 200 calves, lambs, goats, piglets and more enter the world. In addition to being able to pet these teeny tots, visitors can learn more about animal agriculture production, veterinary science and the birthing process.

The Haunted Mansion at the Minnesota State Fair.

Image by David Haines/flickr

Haunted House

So spooky it might scare the cheese curds right out of you. For years the previously white—and now red and black—house haunted by ghosts, monsters and everything else nightmares are made of on the corner of Judson Avenue and Underwood Street has been turning the legs of even the most macho and brave fairgoers into trembling piles of grape jelly. Be sure to empty your bladder of mini donut beer, diet Coke and caramel apple cider before walking through the doors of this house of haunts.


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