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The Minnesota State Fair is underway now through Labor Day. I love the Fair, but it is not a cheap day out. We’ve compiled all kinds of information to help you get discounts, deals and savings at the Minnesota State Fair this year. We’d love to expand our list with your ideas, so please leave comments with what you found during your day there.
How to save money at the MN State Fair
Use a free Park & Ride. Instead of taking the Express bus, drive most of the way to the Fairgrounds and park in one of the 35 free park & rides. Shuttles run from those lots to/from the Fairgrounds every 20 minutes from 8 am through midnight.
Get discounted parking. If you purchased a discount admission ticket at Cub Foods prior to the Fair, then it doubles as a coupon toward parking in one of the State Fair-owned and operated parking lots.
Go on a weekday. The best discounts on both admission and Midway/Kidway rides happen on weekdays. Different groups are discounted on different days. Below are charts that show the discounted admission prices, plus another that tells who is discounted when and Midway/Kidway deals by day.
Use a coupon. The Blue Ribbon Bargain Book costs $5 and can be purchased at the State Fair Box Office. It contains hundreds of money-saving coupons, including one for $6 off a sheet of ride tickets for the Midway/Kidway. That alone covers the cost of the book. Plus, the State Fair app ties into the coupon book.
Use the free State Fair app. Download the free MN State Fair app for your iPhone or Android. You’ll get maps and finder tools. Use the Food Finder to locate food vendors who have coupons in the Blue Ribbon Bargain Book.
Pack a lunch. You can bring your own snacks and food into the Fairgrounds. You might think it blasphemous to eat anything other than the Fair’s treats, but for families with kids this will save you a bundle. Pack nuts, apple slices, carrot sticks and other healthy hearty things and then splurge on a few of your favorite Fair foods.
Bring your own water bottle. Please, please, don’t pay someone else for water. Bring your own water bottle and then refill it at any of the Fair’s drinking fountains or water bottle filling stations.
Bring your own glow sticks. If you’ll have kids or teenagers with you and plan to be at the Fair after dark, then bring your own glow sticks. Otherwise you may be tempted to buy the overpriced ones being sold on every street corner. I’ve seen glow sticks at both Michaels and The Dollar Tree.
Buy food at closing time. Last year some Pocket Your Dollars’ readers were in the Food Building minutes before close when multiple vendors offered them food items for $1 or $2 each.
Admission Prices (Regular and Discount)
|Group||Regular Price||Discount Price|
|Adults (ages 13-64)||$12.00||$10.00|
|Kids (ages 5-12)||$10.00||$7.00|
|Seniors (ages 65+)||$10.00||$7.00|
Discount Days Schedule for MN State Fair
|Day||Groups Given Discounted Admission||Other Discounts on This Day|
|Thursday, August 23||Adults and kids||Midway & Kidway ride discounts all day|
|Friday, August 24||Midway & Kidway ride, game and concession discounts until 1 pm|
|Saturday, August 25|
|Sunday, August 26|
|Monday, August 27||Seniors and kids||Midway & Kidway ride discounts all day|
|Tuesday, August 28||Active military and their families (with ID) are $7.00 each||Midway & Kidway ride, game and concession discounts until 1 pm|
|Wednesday, August 29||All library card holders (must show card; limit 1 ticket per card)||Midway & Kidway ride discounts all day|
|Thursday, August 30||Seniors||Midway & Kidway ride, game and concession discounts until 1 pm|
|Friday, August 31||Midway & Kidway ride, game and concession discounts until 1 pm|
|Saturday, September 1|
|Sunday, September 2|
|Monday, September 3||Kids||Midway & Kidway ride discounts all day|
Best Deals at The Fair
This is the first year we are keeping a list like this and I’d love to see it grow. Please leave comments with great deals that you find throughout your time at the Fair and we’ll add them to the list.
Items are listed in price order (low – high)
Freebies from vendors. The third page of the Deals, Drawings and Giveaways brochure highlights all sorts of freebies that vendors will be giving away at their booths.
Free make it, take it craft for kids. Stop by The Home Depot tent so your kids can make a small project/craft that you can take home with you. It’s very similar to what kids can do in-store on Saturday mornings.
Everything under $1. Although the list is shrinking, there are still several dozen items on sale for $1 or less across the Fairgrounds. Find them all on page 3 of the Deals, Drawings and Giveaways brochure.
$1.50 Kids Meal. Visit Giggles Campfire Grill in the Northwoods and get a kids meal for $1.50. The meal includes chicken nuggets, waffle fries and cookies.
24-pack of batteries. Use coupon #115 from the Blue Ribbon Bargain Book to get a 24-pack of AA or AAA batteries from Northern Tool & Equipment for $3.99 ($0.16/each).
A dozen roses. A dozen fresh cut roses are $9.99 in the Horticulture building. With a coupon from the Blue Ribbon Bargain Book the price drops to $6.99. (Too bad they don’t offer rainchecks redeemable in February, huh?)
Best Free Entertainment
These are listed alphabetically.
Free stage entertainment. Enjoy everything from music concerts, skateboarding, extreme trampoline demos, lumberjack contests, dancing and dog shows on the 12 free stages throughout the Fairgrounds. Get familiar with the complete schedules and bios of the performers before you head out.
Alphabet Forest. Step inside the Alphabet Forest and discover alphabet activities for all ages. Take pictures with Fair Letters, create alphabet Ferris wheels, add your fair words to the Fair Dictionary and more. Youngsters may enjoy this free printable State Fair Alphabet Game.
Giant Sing Along. The most public karaoke you might ever do is available free at the Fair. Join with other Fair-goers in a field of microphones.
Horse shows in the Coliseum. Every day of the Fair there are free horse shows in the Coliseum.
Laser Hitz show. Nightly at 9 pm you can enjoy high-powered aerial laser beams dancing above you while colorful images light up a gigantic screen – all choreographed to popular music from classic rock to today’s hits. Located at the corner of Cosgrove St. and Randall Ave.
Little Farm Hands exhibit. Sponsored by Kemps, pre-schoolers will love this free hands-on mock farm. They get to pretend they are farmers, earn tokens as they work and then trade their tokens for a freebie in the exhibit’s grocery store. Last year my girls each got a free box of instant oatmeal.
Mr. Bubble Bubble Pit. Kids can play in a giant Mr. Bubble bubble bath foam pit. Located south of the Family Fair at Baldwin Park.
Parade. Enjoy a parade complete with floats, high school marching bands, animals and special attractions each day at 2 pm. The 14-block parade route begins near the Haunted House, goes north on Cosgrove St., west on Randall Ave., and south on Underwood St. ending just south of the Haunted House.
Photos with State Fair mascots. Daily at 11 am and 4 pm you can get a photo with the State Fair’s mascot and his autograph. He appears at the corner of Fairchild and Fairborne.
Watch Carrie Rocha be on live TV. I’ll be live on KARE 11 News at 4 pm on Monday, August 27. Then I’ll be back at the Fair on Tuesday, August 28 for a live broadcast of Twin Cities Live in the KSTP booth.
Like I said up top, please leave comments after you’ve been to the Fair with the best deals and freebies you found. I hope to see you there!
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