It’s time to start preparing for our favorite annual end-of-summer bash — the 2017 Minnesota State Fair.
The Minnesota State Fair is something my kids anticipate every year though we are not diehards like Anne and her family. We go once or maybe twice, but my kids start asking to go to the fair in January. It’s with much excitement that my kids anticipate the end of August.
This year, Anne and I were invited back to The Great Minnesota Blog Together to check out a preview of what’s to come. Alice Seuffert of Dining with Alice and Christine Noonan of the Minnesota State Fair have put this event together for three years now and we are always thrilled to go.
The time is drawing near for families to finalize their State Fair plans!
What’s that? You haven’t yet decided if you’ll be attending this year? (I do tend to forget that not everyone is quite as obsessed with this Minnesota ritual as I am.) I can empathize: I find it uncomfortably hot, crowded and expensive much of the time, too. But after years of dragging my brood to the Fair for days on end I’ve honed my plans for making the most of it. I can’t do much to control the crowds or the weather; however I’d love to share 20 of our favorite free fair activities that help keep the costs down.
It’s a pretty widely accepted fact: If you plan to tote a family along for a day at the Minnesota State Fair, you’re going to come home with a considerably lighter wallet. The skewered foods are tempting, the Kidway is calling, the deals are hot and, oh yes, there are those admission tickets to consider. If you’ve been keeping up with the latest and greatest from the State Fair, you probably know that admission has gone up a buck for everyone this year. Here’s what you’re looking at paying for regular admission for 2017:
Now, the prices of food and whatnot are beyond our control. (Though I suppose you could vow to consume nothing at the Fair, but who does that?) There are, however, some surefire ways to save more than a few bucks on admission tickets. I assure you I will be using every one of the strategies listed below as I’m now in possession of three paying kiddos at the gate:
Purchase pre-Fair discount admission tickets – $11/all ages. These are available in person at the State Fair ticket office through Aug 23 (1741 Como Avenue). Tickets are also available participating Cub Foods locations through Aug 23. Discounted ride & game tickets, and Blue Ribbon Bargain Books are sold at these sites as well. Special note: the State Fair does not accept discount admission tickets to cover the cost of on-site parking. The charge to park this year is $14, cash only.
Take advantage of 2017 Promotional Days – if possible, plan to come on one of the following:
- Thrifty Thursday (Aug 24): $12/adults & seniors, $9/kids
- Seniors & Kids Day (Aug 28): $14/adults, $9/seniors & kids
- Military Appreciation Day (Aug 29): $9/active members plus their spouses and kids, $9/retired or veteran members plus their spouses. Valid ID required.
- Ride & Read Day (Aug 30): $12/adults, $9/seniors & kids. One discount ticket per valid public library card shown.
- Seniors Day (Aug 31): $14/adults, $9/seniors, $12/kids
- Kids Day (Sept 4): $14/adults, $12/seniors, $9/kids
Ramsey County Library’s Bookawocky program – earns kids ages 5 – 11 who complete a summer activity booklet a pack of prizes including one State Fair admission ticket. The posted deadline for the 2016 program is August 13. Several other county libraries (Dakota, Scott and Hennepin) participate in the Bookawocky program and will enter your child’s name in a drawing to win prizes that may include Fair tickets.
Volunteer at the Fair – at one of many fun locations and receive complimentary gate admission as thanks. No, it’s not always convenient (but it is possible!) to bring kids along to volunteer. Consider signing up for an early shift, then plan to have another caregiver bring the kids to join you in the afternoon. To practice what we preach, Family Fun Twin Cities helped out in the Alphabet Forest in 2014 and at Little Farm Hands in 2015. Click any of the following links to see how you can get involved.
Do YOU have any other tips or tricks for scoring free or discounted admission to the State Fair? We’d love to hear about them in the comments.
• For more State Fair 2017 planning, try our list of 50 Things To Do at the Minnesota State Fair.