Best Bets for Live Family Entertainment at the 2023 Minnesota State Fair

Top 10: Live Family Entertainment at the Minnesota State Fair

We’re just a few weeks out from opening of the 2023 Minnesota State Fair! Whether this is a revered, longtime family tradition or you’re attending for the first time, we hope you’ll consult our 2023 GUIDE TO THE MINNESOTA STATE FAIR to aid in your family’s planning. A few of the events on this list will not be available this year (noted below) but again, we hope to see them represent in 2023. If you are Fair-bound with your kids this year, we feel confident recommending this list of our favorite live Minnesota State Fair family entertainment options to enjoy together. And, if you need a further reason to check this list out, all the entertainment options presented here are FREE!


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 all the attractions my own kids love: the Alphabet Forest, Math-on-a-Stick exhibit, and digging in the Great Big Sandbox. Find the complete stage schedule here.

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 (10 & 11am) at West End Market’s Schilling Amphitheater, the script is filled with Minnesota-centric singing, trivia and prizes. My kids have really enjoyed it!

Family tip: When our family makes plans to see this show, we arrive in the morning (close to 9:30) via the transit hub next to West End Market. It’s only a short walk in to grab breakfast from either the Blue Barn or LuLu’s Public House, then sit in the shaded amphitheater to eat and wait for the show.

Talent Show Finalists Perform

In its 50th 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 4, at the Grandstand (with FREE admission!).

Arts A’Fair Performances

Popping up in two Fairgrounds locations — the plazas at the North End & at West End Market — the Arts A’Fair performers have included street theater, dancing, drumming, storytelling and puppet shows. You’ll want to plan ahead and find their schedules here if you’re determined to catch the daily entertainment.

Family tip: there is no formal seating for these shows as they were originally designed as pop-up performances. Be aware that you may be standing throughout the shows or, if able, sitting on the ground.

Actor at an Open Eye Figure Theatre Driveway Show at the West End Market in Falcon Heights, Minnesota

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. Yes, there IS bleacher-style seating for the shows.

Family tip: On a typical year there’s a lot going on in the 4-H Building to interest kids. I can’t make any promises this year, but in the past mine have enjoyed experimenting with flight simulators, playing with LEGOs, navigating escape rooms and watching rabbits run through agility courses. So much free entertainment!

4-H Arts-In show at the Minnesota State Fair
Talented 4-H kids perform an impressive musical

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.

Family tip: Did you know it’s possible for your kids to be plucked from the crowd to participate in the daily parade? In our experience, your best chance to be chosen is to be near the Haunted House/Dairy Building area a half hour or so before the parade kicks off – this is where we were situated (w/ Dairy Bar malts 🙂 ) when approached to participate. Kids have historically ridden the little barrel train along the route.

10 Best Bets for Live Family Entertainment at the 2017 Minnesota State Fair

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 Best Bets for Live Family Entertainment at the 2017 Minnesota State Fair

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 and check out my sweet little singers below for inspiration.

10 Best Bets for Live Family Entertainment at the 2017 Minnesota State Fair

Live entertainment we hope will return for the 2023 Minnesota State Fair

Skateboard & BMX Bike Tricks

It’s been a snap to coax my teens and tweens into spending some time with me at the Fair with promises of these wheel-y cool shows at the 3rd Lair Skate Park. Located in Adventure Park. Skills are shown off five times daily.

3rd Lair Skate Park, located in Adventure Park at the Minnesota State Fair

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.


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 Daily Schedules, Food Finder and Merch & More search tools. 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. 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
  • Daily schedules and brochures are always available at the many information booths scattered around the Fairgrounds.
  • We’ve pulled together a list of family safety tips to keep in mind when you’re at an event as large-scale as the State Fair.
  • Do you thrive on checklists? Take our list of 50 Things To Do For Families at the Minnesota State Fair when you head out to the great get-together.

Family Fun Twin Cities Guide to the Minnesota State Fair; Background is carnival blurred


Find more in our Guide to the 2023 Minnesota State Fair

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