Nearly two million people are expected to descend on the Minnesota State Fair’s 320-acre grounds starting Thursday and the following 11 days for concerts, contests, cows and corn dogs.
Here’s Maple Grove Patch’s rundown on what you need to know to get to the fair and find your way around:
Admission gates open daily at 6 a.m. Ticket sales end at 10 p.m. (9 p.m. on Labor Day). Grounds close at midnight (10 p.m. on Labor Day). Most buildings are open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Adults (13-64) pay $12, seniors and children 5 and older pay $10, and children younger than 5 are admitted for free. Promotional days are offered throughout the fair. Pre-fair discount admission is available for purchase through Aug. 22.
The Minnesota State Fairgrounds are located at 1265 North Snelling Ave. N. in St. Paul. Maps and directions are available on the fair’s website. To get to the fair from Maple Grove, coming from the west, take I-94 east to Snelling Avenue, then turn left and head north. If you're arriving from the north, take 35W south to Highway 36 east via Cleveland Avenue Exit to Snelling Avenue South. Note that light-rail construction on University Avenue will slow traffic flow; the fair’s website has tips on how to avoid the congestion.
State fair parking lots cost $12 and can be accessed off Larpenteur, Snelling, or Cleveland avenues. Discount tickets can be purchased in advance through Aug. 22 at Cub Foods in Maple Grove and other Cub Foods locations or the State Fair Box Office. (Motorcycle parking is offered for $6 on Como Avenue.)
Free parking is available at 34 locations around the fairgrounds. Complimentary buses leave every 20 minutes from 8 a.m. to midnight to pick up fair-goers. In 2011, the park and ride program gave more than 900,000 rides.
Free bike racks are offered at the Como-Snelling and Hoyt-Snelling gates and at Commonwealth-West Dan Patch from 6 a.m. to midnight daily.
Three buses service the fair and accept cash or transit passes. Route 960 goes from Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis to the fairgrounds in about 15 minutes. Route 84 travels along Snelling Avenue. Route 3 connects downtown Minneapolis to downtown St. Paul along Como Avenue.
State Fair Express buses operate from 17 Twin Cities locations on 15- and 30-minute loops. Click here for express bus lines in and near Maple Grove.
Navigating the fair
The state fair’s website has downloadable maps of the grounds and daily activity schedules.
The state fair is also smart phone accessible, with a mobile website and stand-alone apps for iPhones and Android phones that include a manipulable map and the ability to search listings of events, merchandise and food.