Minnesota State Fair 2016: Scoring Free and Discounted Tickets

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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 been holding steady for all ages the last few years. Here’s what you’re looking at paying for regular admission for 2016:

$13/adults (13-64)
$11/seniors (65+)
$11/kids (6-12)
Free/kids 5 & under

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 – $10/all ages. These are available in person at the State Fair ticket office through Aug. 24 (1741 Como Avenue).  Tickets are also available participating Cub Foods locations through Aug. 24. 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 $13, cash only.

Take advantage of 2016 Promotional Days – if possible, plan to come on one of the following:

  • Thrifty Thursday (Aug. 25): $11/adults & seniors, $8/kids
  • Seniors & Kids Day (Aug. 29): $13/adults, $8/seniors & kids
  • Military Appreciation Day (Aug. 30): $8/active members plus their spouses and kids, $8/retired or veteran members plus their spouses. Valid ID required.
  • Ride & Read Day (Aug. 31): $11/adults, $8/seniors & kids. One discount ticket per valid public library card shown.
  • Seniors Day (Aug. 28): $13/adults, $8/seniors, $11/kids
  • Kids Day (Sept. 1): $13/adults, $11/seniors, $8/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 21. 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.

Alphabet Forest

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 2016 planning, try our list of 50 Things To Do at the Minnesota State Fair.

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About the author

Anne Kingston

If we left it up to Anne to write her own bio, it would never get posted. She doesn't enjoy talking about herself, but Anne does love exploring the Twin Cities with her family and sharing her finds here. She, her husband and their four kids are lifelong residents of St. Paul.


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