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. Here are 25 must-dos at the 2020 Minnesota State Fair.

Carrie-Ford---Minnesota-State-Fair-Slide-800x536.jpg

  • 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.
  • Board a boat and float through Ye Old Mill. This State Fair staple has been in operation for more than 100 years.
  • Cool off on the River Raft Ride or enjoy the Great Wheel, one of the tallest traveling Ferris wheels in North America.
  • Burn off some calories and join nearly 1,500 runners in the Milk Run 5K race.
  • 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.
  • See new heights and great views of the fairgrounds and the Twin Cities by going up in the iconic Space Tower.

Minnesota State Fair Parade

  • Watch the daily parade at 2 p.m. featuring the high school band competition, floats, animals, visiting royalty and more.  
  • Stroll through the Fine Arts building to see unique pieces by Minnesota artists.
  • Catch some live music at the Leine Lodge Bandshell, International Bazaar or Schell’s Stage at Schilling Amphitheater.
  • 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.

grandstand mn state fair

  • See a popular show at the Grandstand. Artists this year include The Doobie Brothers, Darci Lynne Farmer of America's Got Talent and more to come.
  • Discover Minnesota’s history with the hilarious History-On-A-Schtick show at the Schell’s Stage.
  • Try one of the new State Fair foods for 2020. 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.
  • Dunk a warm Sweet Martha’s Cookie (or 12) into a cup of ice cold milk from the All You Can Drink Milk booth.  
  • Enjoy a Minnesota-made craft beverage. 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.
  • Watch a variety of Minnesota fish swimming in the pond or climb to the top of the fire tower at the DNR Building.
  • 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.
  • 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.  
  • Channel Paul Bunyan at the Timberworks Lumberjack Show with daily shows at the North Woods area.

Minnesota State Fair Cheese Curds

  • Share some piping hot cheese curds with your friends or family.
  • See former rescue dogs perform new tricks at the All-Star Stunt Dogs Splash at the North Woods.
  • 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.
  • 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.
Llama at Minnesota State Fair
Photo by Jim Hoffman
  • Watch the popular Llama Costume Contest to see 4-H kids and their llamas in coordinating costumes.
  • Eat something 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.