New dining and shopping venue in the works for 2017 Minnesota State Fair

A new dining and shopping venue will open on the second floor of the Minnesota State Fair Grandstand in 2017.

The State Fair is currently reviewing applications for a single food vendor for the new site, dubbed the Veranda. “We aren’t looking for anything we already have,” said Jerry Hammer, the fair’s general manager. Hammer said they are looking at menus that would offer “small plates, food that can be shared.”

The Veranda will include dining tables inside and outside the second floor and a boutique shopping area dedicated to “vintage, retro, repurposed, handmade up-cycled goods,” Hammer said. The renovations will also include a new elevator on the west side.

The grandstand renovations are part of $8 million in capital improvements approved for 2017. Changes also include a $1 increase in admission prices for the 2017 fair, which will run from Aug. 24 to Sept. 4. Daily admission for ages 13-64, will be $14; children 5-12 and seniors 65 and over will be admitted for $11; kids under 5 are admitted free. Advance discount tickets for all ages will be $11. Rising costs in fair production, guest services and facilities upkeep are the reasons for the increase, Hammer said.

Other improvements include upgrades to the Swine Barn, two new information booths, a new performance space outside the Education Building and renovations to the interior of the Creative Activities Building. The Education Building’s stage has been the “unofficial community stage,” Hammer said. “We’ve been expanding the use of that.” The fair may bring some of the more than 100 cooking demonstrations out to that stage. The cooking demonstrations take place inside the Creative Activities Building, which will be renovated by knocking out a wall on the far east side of the building and redesigning the demonstration kitchen to accommodate larger viewing audiences.

All projects are funded through State Fair operating revenue and grants from the State Fair Foundation. The fair is financially self-supporting and receives no government aid of any kind.

The State Fair board met as part of the annual joint conventions of the Minnesota State Agricultural Society, Minnesota Federation of County Fairs and Midwest Showmen’s Association Jan. 12-15 at the DoubleTree Hotel in Bloomington.

The State Agricultural Society is made up of delegates from each of the state’s 87 county fairs, plus representatives of 43 statewide associations involved in agriculture, horticulture and education. The society is a quasi-state agency charged exclusively with the production of the annual Minnesota State Fair and management of the 320-acre fairgrounds.


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