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25 Must-Dos at the Minnesota State Fair

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Take a selfie in front of the State Fair's historic streetcar archway / Minnesota State Fair

25 Must-Dos at the Minnesota State Fair

By Caitlin Hannah

Every summer, nearly 2 million people visit the Minnesota State Fair. The Fair is an #OnlyinMN tradition for many Minnesotans and visitors alike.

With nearly 500 food items, 30 carnival rides and more than 900 free performances, there's plenty to keep you busy throughout the Fair's 12-day run.

Although the 2020 Minnesota State Fair is cancelled, here are 25 must-dos to get you excited for 2021.

  1. Ride the Giant Slide
    People gliding down the Giant Slide at the Minnesota State Fair

    Grab a mat and ride the iconic Giant Slide at the Minnesota State Fair.

    Ride the Giant Slide

    No trip to the State Fair is complete until you grab a mat and take a ride down the iconic Giant Slide. Challenge a friend and the loser has to buy an ice cold lemonade for the winner.

  2. Float Through 'Ye Old Mill'
    Float Through 'Ye Old Mill'

    For an old-school good time, board a boat and float through Ye Old Mill. This State Fair staple has been in operation for more than 100 years.

  3. Chill Out on a Relaxing Ride
    Ferris wheel at Minnesota State Fair

    The Minnesota State Fair is the biggest and best state fair in America / Robert Ferdinandt

    Chill Out on a Relaxing Ride

    Summer days at the State Fair can get pretty hot, so take a minute to cool off on the River Raft Ride or enjoy the Great Wheel, one of the tallest traveling Ferris wheels in North America.

  4. Run in a Race
    Run in a Race

    Burn off some calories and join nearly 1,500 runners in the Milk Run 5K race.

  5. Rise Above The Crowds
    Skyride at Minnesota State Fair

    Get a bird's-eye view of the Minnesota State Fair on the Skyride / Thomas J. Wieland

    Rise Above The Crowds

    Get a bird’s-eye view of the fair by taking a ride on the SkyGlider or Skyride. It’s a great way to get around the fairgrounds when you get tired of walking.

  6. Go Into Space
    Go Into Space

    See new heights and great views of the fairgrounds and the Twin Cities by going up in the iconic Space Tower.

  7. Watch the Parade
    Marching band on parade at Minnesota State Fair

    The State Fair's daily parade features marching bands, visiting royalty and more / Minnesota State Fair

    Watch the Parade

    Watch the daily parade at 2 p.m. featuring the high school band competition, floats, animals, visiting royalty and more.  

  8. Enjoy Fine Art
    Enjoy Fine Art

    Stroll through the Fine Arts building to see unique pieces by Minnesota artists.

  9. Attend a Free Concert
    Attend a Free Concert

    Catch some live music at the Leine Lodge Bandshell, International Bazaar or Schell’s Stage at Schilling Amphitheater.

  10. See the Butter Sculptures
    See the Butter Sculptures

    Watch Princess Kay of the Milky Way and the court have their likenesses carved into a 90-pound block of butter in the Dairy Building.

  11. See Huge Shows at the Grandstand
    See Huge Shows at the Grandstand

    See a popular show at the Grandstand. Past artists include The Doobie Brothers, Weird Al, Darci Lynne Farmer of America's Got Talent and many more.

  12. Laugh While You Learn
    Laugh While You Learn

    Discover Minnesota’s history with the hilarious History-On-A-Schtick show at the Schell’s Stage.

  13. Try All the New Foods
    Shrimp and grits fritters

    Shrimp and grits fritters made Funky Grits the breakout star of the 2019 Minnesota State Fair / Minnesota State Fair

    Try All the New Foods

    Every year, State Fair food vendors try to one-up each other with a mix of over-the-top new foods meant to impress and delight your palate. Come with a group and try to taste them all! Past items have included a carnitas taco cone, breakfast potato skins, duck drummies, feta bites, lavender lemonade and shrimp & grits fritters. The new list will debut in summer 2020.

  14. Eat a Bucket of Cookies
    Eat a Bucket of Cookies

    Dunk a warm Sweet Martha’s Cookie (or 12) into a cup of ice cold milk from the All You Can Drink Milk booth.  

  15. Sip Minnesota-Made Drinks
    Sip Minnesota-Made Drinks

    There are more than 300 Minnesota beers, wines and ciders on the fairgrounds for you to try. Some Fair favorites are Lift Bridge Brewery’s Mini Donut Beer and the flight of Minnesota wines at Minnesota Wine Country.

  16. Take in the Scenery
    Take in the Scenery

    Watch a variety of Minnesota fish swimming in the pond or climb to the top of the fire tower at the DNR Building.

  17. Appreciate Agriculture
    Appreciate Agriculture

    Celebrate Minnesota's agricultural significance by seeing the prize-winning and giant vegetables in the Agriculture Horticulture Building or learn about a variety of topics in the 4-H building.

  18. Seek Out Seed Art
    Seek Out Seed Art

    Gaze at the incredible crop art in the Agriculture-Horticulture building. Art and crops collide to create unique pieces made of seeds, corn husks and more. This state fair tradition has been going on since 1965.  

  19. Watch Lumberjacks at Work
    Watch Lumberjacks at Work

    Channel the spirit of Paul Bunyan at the Timberworks Lumberjack Show with daily shows at the North Woods area.

  20. Eat Curds
    People sharing cheese curds

    Sharing cheese curds at the Minnesota State Fair / Christina Sindelir

    Eat Curds

    Share some piping hot cheese curds with your friends or family.

  21. See the Stunt Dogs
    See the Stunt Dogs

    See former rescue dogs perform new tricks at the All-Star Stunt Dogs Splash at the North Woods.

  22. Watch Llamas Dress to Impress
    Llama and trainer in Batman and Robin costumes

    The llama costume contest is a treasured State Fair tradition / Minnesota State Fair

    Watch Llamas Dress to Impress

    Watch the popular Llama Costume Contest to see 4-H kids and their llamas in coordinating costumes.

  23. Appreciate the Gift of Life
    Appreciate the Gift of Life

    Walk through the CHS Miracle of Birth Center to see and pet adorable baby pigs, cows, goats and chicks—you may even witness a live birth.

  24. Go Upscale
    West End Market at Minnesota State Fair

    Visit the West End Market at the Minnesota State Fair / Minnesota State Fair

    Go Upscale

    Shop ‘til you drop at the West End Market, Veranda and more. The new Veranda area in the Grandstand features boutique-style shopping showcasing vintage, upcycled, handmade and made-in-Minnesota goods.

  25. Eat Food On a Stick
    Eat Food On a Stick

    A State Fair staple, you can find more than 60 items on a stick including Cajun-seasoned alligator sausage, bacon, deep-fried olives, key lime pie and more.

Caitlin Hannah

Caitlin Hannah is Explore Minnesota's social media strategist and resident Disney expert. She grew up spending summer weekends at her family's lake cabin in Detroit Lakes, and brings that "up north" attitude to everything she does. When traveling around the state, she likes trying new restaurants and taprooms, or watching Minnesota hockey.