Minnesota State Fair improvements underway

A new $16 million exhibit complex is among improvements coming to the Minnesota State Fair for its 12-day run this year.  

The State Fair’s board of managers recently approved the capital project, which will be located at the North End of the fairgrounds, as part of $20 million in improvements and maintenance work.  

Artist’s rendering of the new exhibit hall on the north end of the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. Rendering by Minnesota State Fair.

“The centerpiece of the State Fair’s newest neighborhood is a major new exhibit facility with a 12,000-square-foot exhibit hall that will be the fair-time home to annually changing museum-quality exhibits,” the State Fair said in a news release. “The North End will also have features that recognize Minnesota innovations in agriculture, industry and the arts, along with uniquely Minnesota attractions, food and commercial exhibits.”  

Meanwhile, other improvements and maintenance projects approved by the board of managers for the coming year include “upgrades to the stalling and technology equipment in the Swine Barn;, installation of a new overhead cover for the Exercise Ring in the livestock area, improvements to the restrooms in Lee & Rose Warner Coliseum, upgrades to the lighting and fire suppression system in the DNR Building, and dozens of paint, sewer, street and sidewalk and landscape projects throughout the 322-acre State Fairgrounds,” according to the press release.

Fair officials said all of the projects are being funded from State Fair operating revenue and grants from the Minnesota State Fair Foundation. 

In other action, the Fair’s board of managers approved admission prices for the 2019 fair, Aug. 22 through Labor Day, Sept. 2. Regular gate admission for adults 13-64 will be $15; kids 5-12 and seniors 65+ will be admitted for $13; children 4 and under are always admitted free. Pre-fair discount admission tickets on sale through Aug. 21 for all ages will be $12.

The admission fees represent a $1 increase in each category and took effect Feb. 2. Admission prices were last adjusted two years ago. State Fair general manager Jerry Hammer cited rising costs in fair production, facilities upkeep, public safety, and other services such as the free Park & Ride system for the increase. 

The Minnesota State Fair, one of the nation’s largest expositions, attracts more than 2 million visitors annually. It features the best in Minnesota’s agriculture, art and industry.

—Scott Carlson

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