The 2020 Minnesota State Fair may be canceled, but State Fair officials and business owners are coming up ways you can get your fix of the Great Minnesota Get Together. Here’s a full list of activities and events taking place.
Operated by the Minnesota State Fair, the State Fair Food Parade allows ticket-holders the chance to drive thru the Fairgrounds and purchase food and beverage from 16 vendors, including Turkey To Go sandwiches, Tom Thumb mini donuts, cheese curds, malts, cheese-on-a-stick and Sweet Martha’s cookies. Tickets for the 13 day event sold out in less than two hours. Read about my Food Parade experience here.
The State Fair is known for its list of specialty beers and beverages, and they have a list of breweries, cideries and orchards serving up popular drinks usually only found at the State Fair, including the Mini Donut Beer from Lift Bridge Brewing Company in Stillwater.
All brewers will serve through Labor Day.
The Midtown Global Market on Lake Street in Minneapolis is the permanent home for many State Fair vendors, so it’s fitting that the Market will host the Great Global Get-Together Thursday, August 27 through Sunday, September 6. Here’s a taste of who you’ll find:
Overall, a dozen restaurants are participating. You’ll also find State Fair merchandise vendors who call Midtown Global Market home. Here’s a full list of who you’ll find.
The Great Global Get-Together is free to attend. As the Midtown Global Market is indoors, masks are required.
Between August 27 and September 7, you can stop by the food hall for Minnesota FARE, a 12 day celebration of the Great Minnesota Get Together.
Nordic Waffles will serve up a Strawberr-EO Surprise, an iconic strawberry picnic dessert with a double-stuffed cookie surprise in a waffle for $7.99. You can also try The Sassy Waffletarian, a plant-based sausage, topped with sautéed peppers and onions, finished with a slight kick of chef’s secret salsa for $8.99.
All seven of POTLUCK’s food vendors will have State Fair fare on their menus during Minnesota FARE.
It wouldn’t be a mock State Fair without freebies! The first 100 people who attend POTLUCK on August 27, 28 and 29 receive a Midway Social Distance Stick. Those attending on Labor Day receive a drawstring bag.
From August 31-September 7, you will be able to enjoy favorites from The Blue Barn, located at the Fairground’s West End Market, at restaurants around the Twin Cities.
The menu items are available for dine-in or carry out at the following restaurants:
Run by the Hamline United Methodist Church in Saint Paul, the Hamline Church Dining Hall has served food on the Fairgrounds since 1897. It’s one of only two church dining halls left at the Fair.
Through August 21, you are able to pre-order some of their favorites, including their Hamline Hamloaf ($10/pound), State Fair Swedish Meatballs (12 for $10), and Bread Oven Loaf ($5).
You can place your order online by clicking this link. Pickup is Sunday, August 30.
I recently chatted with Sara Hayden, owner of Sara’s Tipsy Pies. At her booth in the Fair’s Food Building, you’ll find sweet and savory hand pies mixed with alcohol, including 2 Gingers Irish Whiskey, Finnegans beer, and Chateau St. Croix wine.
Sara is excited that her pies are available in the freezer section at all Cub grocery stores, along with Lunds and Byerlys. Starting August 23, they will also be available fresh baked in the bakery section at Cub stores. Click here for a store locator.
At Sara’s store in Stillwater, you’ll be able to try the flavors which were meant to make their debut at the 2020 State Fair, Cheery Cherry and Spicey Reuben, for $5 each.
Also keep your eye out for a collaboration between Sara’s Tipsy Pies and Sweet Science Ice Cream. Word is you’ll soon be able to enjoy a Tipsy Pie ice cream using Sara’s cherry pie.
Sweet Martha’s cookie dough is available in the freezer section of grocery stores around the Midwest, including Cub, Target and Hy-Vee. Click here to find a store near you.
In August, Sweet Martha launched an online shop, where you can order t-shirts, hoodies and hats with the iconic logo.
Johnny Pops, quality popsicles invented by Minnesotans, are also available in the freezer section at many grocery stores.
Charlie Torgeson is the pitmaster of RC’s BBQ, which took over the Famous Dave’s booth at the State Fair a few years back. In 2019, Charlie introduced a Jamm’in Brisket Grilled Cheese, and The Hot Hen, which included BBQ chips with pulled buffalo chicken, bleu cheese fondue and more. In 2017, he served us a Double Dose of Pork Belly, which got my thumbs up.
I reached out to Charlie, and he is opening Charlie T’s Smokehouse & BBQ Trailer in the parking lot of In Kahoots in Hamel, which is just west of Plymouth. The menu won’t mirror what you can get at RC’s BBQ, but you’ll get the same rubs and sauces. Featured menu items include Buttery Pork Belly, Salt and Pepper Crusted Beef Short Rib and Cherry Smoked Chicken Wings.
Charlie T’s Smokehouse & BBQ Trailer is expecting a soft open the week of August 16. To get official news, follow @charlietssmokehouse on Instagram.
One of my favorite State Fair foods is the deep-fried apple pie from Minneapple Pie. The brother-sister duo of George and Joanne are incredibly kind people, too. Their sweets are definitely sharable, so grab a friend and head to the Cub Foods parking lot in Maplewood (2390 White Bear Avenue) August 28, 29 or 30 between 11:00 am and 7:00 pm to get a slice of their deep-fried goodness.
It’s not run by the State Fair, but the Fair Food Finder Facebook group is mighty popular, with over 174,000 members. You’ll find postings of where you’ll find Fair food, which includes a vendor map. The Finder is inclusive to all Fair-inspired food vendors, not just those you would find at the State Fair.
Not sanctioned by the State Fair, but a company is selling kits filled with State Fair inspired foods that you can make at home, including cheese curds, mini donuts, fries and Sweet Martha’s cookies. Each kit is $59.95 and will be shipped starting August 17.
Princess Kay of the Milky Way represents dairy farmers in Minnesota, and there will still be a 2020 princess. A coronation took place on August 12.
From Thursday, August 13 through Sunday, August 22, candidates will be on the Fairgrounds to get their likeness carved out of a 90 pound block of butter. And you’ll be able to watch via a live stream on the Princess Kay Facebook page.
Linda Christensen, the artist who has carved the candidates for 49 years, will not be sculpting this year due to risks associated with the pandemic. She will be a part of the festivities virtually. Christensen is planning to return to the Fairgrounds in 2021 for her 50th and final year as the sculptor.
Minnesota sculptor Gerry Kulzer, an artist and teacher from Litchfield, has been an apprentice of Christensen’s for the last two years and will serve as this year’s artist. Kulzer will take over as the sculptor after Christensen’s retirement following the 2021 Fair. Learn more.
If there’s a Grandstand vendor that you love to visit every year, chances are good they will be on a virtual marketplace, run by the State Fair. It’s home to nearly 250 businesses and is a great way for you to shop Minnesota.
Adam Turman is one of those vendors. Ten percent of proceeds from his “Great Minnesota All-In-This Together” collection will be donated to Minnesota State Fair Foundation, the organization responsible for upkeep of the Fairgrounds and its buildings.
The State Fair has an official online store that features t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats and more. Typically, you can shop for Fair merchandise at Visitors Plaza on the Fairgrounds.
To be honest, official Fair merchandise available to public is not the most current and trendy looking stuff. However, designers did a good job creating face masks. You can get a face covering featuring Fairchild, one of the two mascots for the Fair, for $12. They’re also selling a three-pack of more simplistic masks for $20. Face coverings are available in adult and youth sizes.
There still is an in-person event on the Fairgrounds in 2020. The Fine Arts Exhibition of Minnesota will showcase art selected as winners through an online juried competition. From August 27 through September 7, you are able to view the winners in the Fine Arts Building on the Fairgrounds. Tickets are $10 per person and you must select a time slot online.
You will also be able to view the exhibit online via the State Fair’s website and social media channels.
Need something to do while you’re cooped up at home? Bake some cookies! The State Fair is hosting a Cookie Decorating Competition, with the winner receiving tickets to the 2021 Minnesota State Fair. To enter, email email@example.com with your name, city of residence, and one photo of your decorated cookie(s). The deadline to enter is Thursday, August 27 at 4:30 pm. The contest is open only to Minnesota residents. Learn more here.
The State Fair’s popular Crop Art competition is still going on in 2020! Until 4:30 pm on Thursday, August 27, you are able to create artwork made of seed in one of two categories (those who have placed four or more times before and then the rest of us). No ribbons are awarded, but tickets to the 2021 Minnesota State Fair will be awarded to one person from each category. To enter, email firstname.lastname@example.org with one picture of your artwork, your name, city of residence, and what class you’re entering. More information can be found here.
NOTE: The State Fair created “Crop Art To Go” kits, allowing you to make your own Crop Art creation at home. Those are sold out.
The State Fair is also hosting its annual Quilt-on-a-Stick contest. You will want to create a quilt, using any method, that is 8″ x 9″ and fits the theme, “Fishing in Minnesota: The One that Got Away”.
To submit your quilt, you will want to take photos of the front and back of your quilt, along with two other detail photos, and email them to email@example.com. Make sure to include your name and city in the email. The deadline to enter is Thursday, August 27 at 4:30 pm.
No ribbons or premiums will be awarded, but the top five quilts will be featured on the State Fair’s social media channels.
Students in grades Kindergarten through 12 in Minnesota are eligible to submit artwork and photography in a virtual competition. State Fair staff will pick winners from each class and grade to feature on social media. No ribbons will be awarded. To learn about the various classes students can enter, click here.
The Llama Costume Contest is a hidden gem at the State Fair. On one night, you’ll see students showcase very creative costumes with their Llamas in an arena.
In spirit of the Llama Costume Contest, Fair officials invite you to take a photo of you and your pet in complimentary costumes for your chance to win 2021 State Fair admission tickets. Llama not required. The deadline to enter is Friday, August 28. Learn more here.
The State Fair has a limited number “Party-in-a-Box” available to purchase on their merchandise website. The idea is that the kit would help you throw a State Fair themed party at home. The catch is that you have to provide the food. For $40, you receive State Fair branded plates and cups, a ribbon, a party game and more.
The Minnesota State Fair does not receive funding from the State of Minnesota. Instead, it runs off of revenue from the Fair (ticket sales, vendor fees) and fundraising from the State Fair Foundation.
Now is a great time to become a Friend of the Fair. Starting with a $50 donation, you’ll receive two tickets to the 2021 Minnesota State Fair. And a majority of your gift is tax-deductible. You’re going to buy tickets anyway, so you might as well buy them as a donation!
The State Fair Foundation also allows you to purchase a brick, bench or picnic table that will live on the Fairgrounds during the Great Minnesota Get Together. Bricks are $250, benches are $2500 and picnic tables are $5000. Learn more.
In July, the Fair sold sleeves of their iconic recyclable cups that you could use for your own use at home.
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