In America, fairs are as common as baseball and apple pie in summertime. There are town fairs, county fairs, state fairs…and then there’s the Minnesota State Fair.
Widely regarded as one of the best state fairs in America, the “Great Minnesota Get-Together” has transformed from an agricultural showcase in its inaugural run (in 1859), to the vast entertainment and eating event of the year that it is today.
If you’re new to the Land of 10,000 Lakes (and the U.S.), attending the state fair is a big ol’ helping of Minnesota (and American) culture. Here’s a list of some cannot-miss attractions (and foods, of course).
Sweet Martha’s Cookies
Why have one when you can buy ’em by the bucket?! Martha has been making her sweet treats for over 30 years, and no trip to the fair is complete without a stop at Sweet Martha’s.
Debuting in 1968, the Giant Slide is a rite of passage for Minnesotans new and old. Don’t let the long line fool you: it goes fast.
ALL THE FOOD
With 56 new items just this year, the state fair is a foodie’s dream (though it might be a nightmare on your wallet!) Plus, everything “on a stick” looks great on Instagram! From cheese curds to deep fried Oreos to mini donuts to sweet, crisp corn on the cob, if you can dream it, there’s probably some form of it at the fair. (Check out Andrew Zimmern’s list, too).
Avoid slow walkers and strollers: take a ride on the Sky Ride! This bird’s-eye-view of the fair has been in operation for 53 years now, and is the preferred choice for people watching on the midway.
From big-name Grandstand acts to free performances at the Bandshell, you can find music pretty much everywhere and at any time from now until Labor Day.
It wouldn’t be a fair without animals (specifically livestock), so make sure to check out the various barns for a chance at getting up-close and personal with Minnesota’s more furry friends. From sheep to snakes, draft horses to bunnies, there are all kinds of opportunities to see all types of creatures.
From a giant tank of native fish to rubbing elbows with Minnesota’s members of Congress, if something is labeled as ‘Minnesotan’, there’s a good chance you can find it in some form at the fair.
Whether you go for the food, animals, people-watching, or attractions, there is truly something for everyone at the Great Minnesota Get-Together. But hurry! The fair ends Labor Day (Sept. 4).