The Ultimate Guide to the Minnesota State Fair: What to eat, drink & do!

Entrance to the Minnesota State Fair. Ultimate guide on what to eat and drink while visiting the state fair of MN.

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About the Minnesota State Fair

If you’ve never been to the Minnesota State Fair, this guide is for you! An inside look into a perfect day (or multiple days) to have the best time at the Great MN Get Together! As a born and raised Minnesotan, I’ve gone to the Minnesota State Fair every summer for over a decade since I moved to the “Twin Cities” Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area of the state. But, womp womp this is the first year (2022) I won’t be going, but I know for a fact I won’t be able to stay away long! Hence this Minnesota State Fair Guide, to help you have the best time for me.

The Minnesota State Fair coined “The Great Minnesota Get Together” is one of my absolute favorite things about summer in Minnesota. (I mean who can turn down fried food, great weather and stellar beer?!) Click here for the Ultimate Minnesota Summer Bucket list beyond this Minnesota State Fair planning guide.

Entrance to the Minnesota State Fair. Ultimate guide on what to eat and drink while visiting the state fair of MN.

When is the Minnesota State Fair?

However, since the State Fair is at the end of the summer it’s also kind of the last hurrah as well. We’ve been lucky in recent years to have experienced gorgeous weather into September but really prime Minnesota summer is June-August.

But lets get back to the state fair, it starts the last Thursday in August and runs through Labor Day. Which means you really have to plan ahead when you’re able to go because it’s only a little over a week. Many dedicated Minnesotans will take Thursday off of work on the opening day and be the first visitors there to try new foods & the state fair exclusive local craft beer. The Minnesota State Fair is the second most attended state fair in the nation so that’s holding a testament to how truly awesome it is. The first ranking is Texas and even the length of time of the state fair is bigger in that state! Stay tuned, as I will be visiting the Texas State Fair for the first time this year (2022)!

Where the Minnesota State Fair is located

The Minnesota State Fair Grounds are located in Falcon Heights, MN. It’s somewhat central between the two “Twin Cities” of Minneapolis & St. Paul. The state fair grounds are used obviously for the Minnesota state fair every year. There are also other events that take place here throughout the “off season” of the Minnesota State Fair such as Christmas light display events during the holidays and Oktoberfest beer events in the fall.

How to get there

On-site parking is usually really limited and a total headache. I honestly don’t even mess with it! I usually take a Metro-transit bus that brings you to and from the fair. It’s just really convenient! There are metro transit locations all over the Twin Cities suburbs.

How it works: Essentially you park at the metro transit station, then the bus will pick you up, bring you right to the fair. Then when you’ve had your fill of food, drink & fun you get a return trip back to your car to head home by getting on the bus back to the metro station. Click here for more information on transportation options and where the nearest Metro transit is to you.

Minnesota State Fair Admission tickets

Typically if you pre-purchase your admission tickets prior to the state fair starting you can get a discount on them. You can purchase them in advance online and select mobile delivery. Otherwise there is a fee to have physical tickets sent to a mailing address. In the past, Cub Foods also sold hard copies as well as the blue ribbon bargain coupon books that have savings at many different vendors within the fair. Several organizations will also offer pre-buy discounts (for example my husband’s previous employer did this.) For specific information and to pre-purchase your tickets find the specific information located here.

Your Guide: What to eat at the Minnesota State Fair

I think the better question is, what not to eat? Haha! In all honesty though there are several items that I always have on my list to sample while visiting the Minnesota State Fair. There are always new foods for each year that I will add to my list that entice me once the new foods list is announced. But here are my standards (things I will always get, no fail!)

Big Fat Bacon

Maple glazed thick cut bacon, on a stick! need I say more?

Deep Fried Pickles

Over the years there have been many different variations of deep fried pickles at The Perfect Pickle stand at the Minnesota State Fair such as cream cheese/cheesy, cajun or just a pickle (not deep fried!) But, I prefer the standard pickle chips with a side of ranch. Just thinking about it makes me so hungry!

plastic tray of deep fried pickles with a side of ranch with the perfect pickle stand in the distance at the Minnesota State Fair

Deep Fried Olives

Technically the stand that you can find these delicious olives at is a fried fruit stand. But, the olives are what keep me coming back! I just love the combination of salty and savory. There are a few different variations but the classic olives w cream cheese are my go to!

Pronto Pups

A Pronto Pup is a specific brand of corn dog. The batter just makes them better. So, for a Minnesota State Fair classic, a corn dog (of the pronto pup variety) is definitely warranted. I like mine with just ketchup, however slather it in mustard if you must!

holding up a pronto pup corn dog in front of the pronto pup sign with a merry go round in the background at the MN State Fair.

Cheese Curds

I don’t have any particular vendor or location I stay loyal to for cheese curds. (The Big Cheese, listed below is a solid choice!) But, I always have to have them. I mean one of my mottos for life is “cheese is the glue that holds my life together”. So, melty gooey deep fried cheese is a given, right?

The Big cheese cheese curds stand at the MN State Fair

Mini Donuts

I’ll be honest, sometimes I skip the actual donuts and just get the mini donut beer. But, when I do get the actual donuts they’re piping hot and thrown in cinnamon sugar. But, lets be honest if you’re a pastry beer fan you’d 100% agree with me that the liquid form is very tasty!

If you’ve ever been to the MN state fair I’m sure you’re wondering why I didn’t add Sweet Martha’s Cookies. So many people love them but honestly they’re just not my jam! Same with the roasted corn. Tried it and didn’t live up to the hype for me. But hey, you should probably at least try it once!

Your Guide: What to drink at the Minnesota State Fair

This quite honestly is one of my absolute favorite parts about the Minnesota state fair! Sooooo many local Minnesota craft beer breweries make special over the top flavored beers that are exclusive to the Minnesota state fair. Every year, they publish a list of new and returning state fair exclusive beers and from their list I make my “to-drink/to-do” list. For a craft beer enthusiast like myself, it’s a lot of fun, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t one of the main reasons to go to the fair. Last year (2021), I even wrote a post about the beers I tried. Click here for the deets!

Usually, the state fair will send out an announcement about all of the new (and some returning beers) that are available for that year at the Minnesota State Fair. My hands down favorite to date is the mini donut beer by local brewery Liftbridge Brewing located in Stillwater, MN.

glass of mini donut beer rimmed in cinnamon sugar in a clear glass with minnesota state fair written on it with the sign ball park cafe in the background

A Guide: What to drink in 2022 at the Minnesota State Fair

I.e. the new Minnesota State Fair exclusive beers that would have been on my list if I wasn’t in the middle of a relocation. If you don’t want to make your own list, use mine! Be sure to strategically make your list according to the location at the fair though. You can also download the MN state fair app but be forewarned sometimes it’s hard to get service due to the concentration of people with phones attending the far. (The beers listed below are in alphabetical order.)

Baklava Cream Ale by Bent Brewstillery

A pastry lighter beer, definitely is intriguing. Plus, there aren’t many baklava flavored beers. Add this to the 2022 beers “to drink” at the Minnesota State Fair list.

Chili Pineapple Express Sour by Pryes Brewing

Pryes is a great Minneapolis brewery. Honestly, one of the almost contenders for my top favorites. This spicy but tangy chili pineapple flavored beer sounds really intriguing hence why it would be on my 2022 beers “to drink” at the Minnesota State Fair list.

Cucumber Summer by Indeed Brewing

Cucumber beers are so refreshing and if the weather is hot, you’re walking around all day exploring the state fair, a cucumber beer sounds like it would truly hit the spot! Which is why I would add it to my 2022 beers “to drink” at the Minnesota State Fair list.

Electrik Empress by Schells Brewing

Super fruity but also aged in wood leads me to believe this will be fruity but yet funky as well. I’m super intrigued by the description of this beer so of course I would add it to my 2022 beers “to drink” at the Minnesota State Fair list.

Grain Belt Lim’ by August Schell Brewing

Living in Minnesota for most of my life thus far, Grain Belt Premium is a light beer of choice when I’m not feeling particularly “crafty”. It’s a light easy drinker and in my opinion better than domestics such as Bud Light or Coors Light. However, for some odd reason I really love Bud Light Lime. (insert shrug here!) So, of course I would try a lime version of my beloved Grain Belt beer. You know what to do, add it to the 2022 beers “to drink” at the Minnesota State Fair list.

Green Apple Caramel Sour by Mankato Brewing

Mankato brewing has had some bangers of Minnesota State Fair Beer in the past. A caramel apple beer has definitely been done before. It seems like every year one brewery or another does one. However, I’ll still try it to compare to beers past. I’m sure they hope there’s people like me that just want to try all of the beers.

MN Brew Together: Blue Macaroon (Modist Brewing & Forager collab)

Every year there’s typically a MN Brew Together which is two MN breweries making a collab beer. Plus, this year it’s a pastry style beer. Modist is a brewery on my top 5 in the Twin Cities list and I’ve loved Forager by trying it through shares and when friends drive down to Rochester to pick up beer. We did stop in once on the way home from our 2020 roadtrip. It’s true, we based some road trip stops solely on breweries we wanted to visit.

Olive Lager by Insight

Inspired by the classy MN favorite, light beer (preferably a domestic not craft) with green olives in it. This wasn’t ever really my thing, but lets just say I’m intrigured by a craft brewery making a rendition of this so, you know what to do add it to the 2022 beers “to drink” at the Minnesota State Fair list of course!

Pitt Boss by Bauhaus Brew Labs collab with Animales BBQ Co.

Animales BBQ Co. is literally the best BBQ that I’ve had in the state of Minnesota. The fact that they’re doing a smoked beer collab is mind blowing. Their food is phenomenal and I’m definitely a super fan so missing out on this brew is a huge bummer! But, now you know so add it to the 2022 beers “to drink” at the Minnesota State Fair list.

Strawberry Squeeze by Lupulin

This beer just sounds like summer. A light drinker with a little bit of strawberry sweetness. I’m venturing to guess that it may be similar to their apricot beer but swapping out strawberry. If that’s the case, it’s sure to be a tasty brew! So you know what to do, add it to the 2022 beers “to drink” at the Minnesota State Fair list.

Tootsie Hop by Lakes & Legends Brewing Co.

Reminiscent of younger years and parades some of my favorite tootsie rolls were the raspberry and original flavors. So, because Lakes & Legends made a beer in this form I’d definitely add this local brew to the 2022 beers “to drink” at the Minnesota State Fair list.

Trippple Orange by Modist Brewing

Modist Brewing is one of my ultimate favorites in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Minnesota brewery scene. Read more about my other Twin Cities top 5 breweries. Smoothie sour style beer and one of my top breweries, a no brainer! I think it’s a toss up between this beer and the Animales collab as to which one would be my most aniticipated beer to try, but I definitely would be adding this to the 2022 beers “to drink” at the Minnesota State Fair list.

woman in poncho drinking beer at fair
Grain Belt Blu slushy top beers are a MUST! (Rain OR Shine!)

2022 New Minnesota State Fair Beers to try recap

Whew! That’s quite the hefty list of new beers (12 in total!) & then there are several state fair exclusive beers that I always have to get each year. (Ahem, mini donut beer & Grainbelt blu with a slushy top!) But, we always share and get the smallest pours possible.

Seriously after going through all the new brews I’m even more bummed not to go–if you go and try any of these send me a message and let me know how they are!

Minnesota State Fair Guide: Things to do

Rides

Can there really even be a fair without the somewhat unsafe rides to go on after pounding cheese curds or other fried delicacies? This area of the fair is definitely more geared toward the younger demographic so there are rides for all ages and many children and families in this area of the Minnesota State Fair.

Livestock

I’ll be honest, the livestock really is my least favorite part of the fair but I’ll take a spin or two through barns depending on who I’m at the fair with. I’m usually more of a domestic animals type person vs. a hobby farmer. I can appreciate those who show animals and raise them but it really just isn’t my cup of tea!

Concerts

The Grandstand at the State Fair always attractions an awesome lineup of concerts. There’s usually a great mix of different genre of performers that appeals to everyone. Concerts at the State Fair do require a daily admission to the fair on top of the ticket price so keep that in mind! I’ve only been to a few concerts at the State Fair but I know many people that go to at least one concert every year.

Shopping

There are so many vendors beyond just food and drink vendors at the state fair. There are many truly unique clothing and housewares vendors that have booths as well. A perfect way to spend your time while eating and drinking is walking around and browsing all of the unique offerings.

Eat & Drink!

See the previous few sections above, I’m definitely passionate about eating and drinking my way across the Minnesota State Fair. To be honest, that’s usually the reason I attend! I spend one full day drinking all of the awesome local Minnesota craft beers and eating food that’s bad for me. But, if you only go for one day, that’s moderation, right?

an almost empty glass of beer at the Minnesota State Fair

Beyond the Minnesota State Fair, you could spend time all across Minnesota further exploring. Starting with things to do in Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area and expanding all across our gorgeous state. August truly is a beautiful time to visit!

Pin for later!

More Minnesota Travel:

Minnesota Travel Guide

Minnesota North Shore State Parks

Duluth, MN

Grand Marais, MN

Bemidji, MN

Published by WanderLust in Real Life

I'm a 30 something living in the Midwest of the United States that loves every aspect of travel. Researching, planning, & of course actually going on adventures whether near or far.

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