We’re just a few weeks out from opening day of the 2018 Minnesota State Fair and I’m in my element writing about my most favorite time of the year. I love the planning and the anticipation, the scouting out of new foods and attractions, and the pulling together of a list I’ll check off with my family over the many days we’ll spend together. Because for us, the State Fair is truly a family affair. I’ve been bringing my four children along since their infancy (for better or for worse). And that is why I feel confident in sharing this list of 10 of our favorite live family entertainment options at the Fair to enjoy together.
10 FAMILY-FRIENDLY LIVE ACTS AT THE MINNESOTA STATE FAIR
1. Family-friendly acts at Baldwin Park stage | Baldwin Park is a hub of entertainment for the grade school-and-under set. The Family Fair Stage hums all day, every day with magicians, break dancing, jugglers, and chances for kids to get up and dance. And, you patient parents, we near-guarantee adults will be entertained as well. The seating is shaded, a welcome relief after exploring all that Baldwin Park has to offer including the Alphabet Forest, Math-on-a-Stick exhibit, and the Great Big Sandbox. Find the complete stage schedule here.
2. History on a Schtick | History lessons can be amusing for kids and their families alike – as dramatized by the Minnesota Historical Society and their quirky show History on a Schtick. Performed twice daily through the run of the Fair (9:30 & 10:30am) at West End Market’s Schilling Amphitheater, the script is filled with Minnesota-centric singing, trivia and prizes.
3. Skateboard & BMX bike tricks | Coax the teens and tweens into spending some time with you at the Fair with promises of these wheel-y cool shows at the 3rd Lair-sponsored X-Zone. Tucked away in one of the uppermost corners of the Fair, skills are shown off five times daily.
4. Talent show finalists perform | In its 46th year, the Minnesota State Fair Amateur Talent Contest presents semifinals at the Leinie Lodge Bandshell each night of the Fair leading up to the final competition before Labor Day. Grab some dinner-on-a-stick and come watch these talented hopefuls perform at 6pm – and come early for a good seat. The winners in each age division will advance to the finals held Sunday, Sept 2, at the Grandstand (with FREE admission!).
5. Arts A’Fair performances | Popping up in two Fairgrounds locations — the new Cosgrove Stage next to the Education Building and the plaza in West End Market — the Arts A’Fair performers include street theater, dancing, drumming, storytelling and puppet shows. Plan ahead and find their schedules here.
6. 4-H Arts-In shows | Talented 4-H kids from across the state work hard to learn an impressive musical theater performance in just one week. And not only do they memorize songs and dances, they help to write the script, make costumes and build the set. Take a break from the sun and catch the State Arts-In Shows in the relatively cooler 4-H Building; choose from 3 or 4 times daily by using checking the daily schedule.
7. Here comes the parade | Daily at 2pm, the State Fair Parade comes marching along its route from its start near the Haunted House. See competing high school marching bands, the Princess Kay float and other royalty, assorted stunt performers and more. Map the parade or pick out a good viewing spot here.
8. Laser Encore’s Laser Hitz Show | Perhaps you’re one of those who can pack in a day at the Fair and still be standing (awake) at 9:15pm. Or you enjoy coming out to the Fair in the latter part of the day for the evening entertainment. Either way, seek out the Laser Hitz show — colorful dancing beams set to popular tunes — nightly near the Fine Arts Center.
9. Stunt dogs & lumberjack feats | Death-defying dog acts or axe-wielding lumberjacks your thing? Both are fun to cheer along with and there’s a lot of all-ages appeal here (though a bit of a warning, the volume level might be too much for the very youngest). Shows by the All-Star Stunt Dogs Splash and the Timberworks Lumberjack Show are performed daily in the North Woods area of the Fairgrounds.
10. Giant Sing-Along | YOU and your family get to provide the entertainment at this giant karaoke gathering on the northern end of the Fairgrounds. Lyrics to 50 crowd-sourced popular songs are displayed on a jumbo screen and there’s a field of microphones set up to belt them out. Get the Giant Sing-Along playlist here.
MORE STATE FAIR PLANNING TIPS
The Minnesota State Fair makes it easier than ever these days with a number of planning resources available to visiting families. If you’re like me, and find having a good plan helps maximize the fun and minimize the stress of a visit with kids, keep these tools in mind:
- Download the official Minnesota State Fair App free on iTunes or Google Play to easily access the Fair’s Food Finder, Fun Finder, and Merch & More search tools. Google Maps is also integrated on the app to help you make your way around the Fairgrounds. Or you can visit the Fair’s mobile website at m.mnstatefair.org.
- The State Fair Fun Finder allows you to browse the complete daily schedules and create a personal itinerary from hundreds of activities for your family, your group or just for yourself. Save and/or print out your schedule and bring it along to the get-together.
- Daily schedules and brochures are always available at the many information booths scattered around the Fairgrounds.