How to do the Minnesota State Fair for cheap

Starting today, the Minnesota State Fair will be celebrating all things Minnesota with agricultural displays, art, animal shows, live music, and lots of food on a stick. Unfortunately, some activities and treats can eat a hole in one's wallet faster than the fried food plows through the digestive system. But this doesn't have to be so; with a little planning it's easy to spend an entire day enjoying the fair and all it has to offer while on a budget.

Check out our shortlist of cool things to see, free stuff to do, live entertainment that won't cost a dime, and stuff that will only cost you a dollar before heading out to the fairgrounds.

[jump] Free stuff:

Andersen Corp.
(Cosgrove Street, between Wright & Dan Patch Avenues)

Sling backpack, yard sticks, seed sticks.

Better Business Bureau
(Education Bldg., northeast corner)

Post-it notes, tape measures, clips, flashlights, key chains, pens, window clings, bracelets, bags.

Children's Hospitals and Clinics of MN
(Randall Ave. & Cosgrove St.)

T-shirts, bracelets, band-aids, chalk, and hand sanitizers, a fair necessity.

Custom Remodelers Inc.
(Home Improvement Bldg., center aisle)

Beads, fairies, rings, carabiners, car toys, finger puppets, candy.

Gander Mountain
(Cooper St. & Randall Ave., south of the North Woods)

Sunscreen, kids headbands, hats.

Home Depot
(West side of Cosgrove Street, between Wright & Dan Patch Avenues)

Yard sticks.

(West side of Cooper Street, between Randall & Lee Avenues)

Samples, coupons, Joe Mauer string backpacks.

Midwest Dairy Assn. of MN
(Dairy Bldg.)

Recipe books, trading cards, headbands, hand fans.

MN Blue Flame Gas Assn.
(West side of Nelson Street, between Dan Patch & Carnes Avenues)


MN Farm Bureau Federation
(Underwood St.)

Kitchen spatulas, reusable grocery bags, trading cards.

Ocean Spray
(East of Agriculture Horticulture Bldg.)

Samples of Ocean Spray juice, dried fruit packets, and On the Go powdered drink mix.

Star Tribune
(North side of Carnes Avenues, between Chambers & Nelson)

Plastic bags, wet wipes, flavored lip balm.

Watkins Inc.
(Heritage Square)

Chicken noodle soup samples.

Stuff that costs $1 or less:

All the Milk You Can Drink
(Judson Ave. between Clough & Nelson Sts.)

All-you-can-drink milk (choose between white or chocolate).

All the Milk You Can Drink
(Midwest Dairy Assn. of MN, Dairy Bldg., Underwood St. and Judson Ave.)

Or, are you closer to the Dairy Building, same deal here.

Caramel Apples, Cotton Candy, Sno Cones
(South side of Randall Ave., between Cooper & Underwood Streets)

Choose from coffee, Sno Cones, and some other beverage for a buck.

Cream Puffs
(Southwest corner of Dan Patch Ave. & Liggett St.)

Caffeinate yourself with an 8 oz. cup of coffee.

Dairy Goodness Bar
(Dairy Bldg., southeast corner)

Order up milk (white, chocolate, strawberry), yogurt cups (strawberry, peach, blueberry), and cheese sticks (cheddar, mozzarella, co-jack) for $1 each.

Lemonade and Shrimp Cocktail

(S-30 Judson Ave. & Underwood St.)

Shrimp cocktail for a dollar? Yup, it's true.

Rainbow Ice Cream
(Upper Grandstand, east wall next to stairs)

Ice cream cones for $1.

Cool things to enter to win:

3rd Lair Skatepark
(Corner of Murphy Avenue & Underwood Street, northwest quadrant)

Win a skateboard deck and practice stunts at home.

Alzheimer's Assn.
(Education Bldg., southwest corner)


American Express Delta Skymiles
(Underwood St.)

Win a pair of tickets to Minnesota State Fair Grandstand shows like Alter Bridge, Steely Dan, Weezer, Maroon 5.

Builders Assn. of the Twin Cities
(Northwest corner of Carnes Avenue & Underwood Street)

Win a limo tour of the Parade of Homes.

Concordia College-Moorhead
(Education Bldg., northeast corner)


Minnesota Twins
(Judson Avenue, between Underwood & Cooper Streets)

Attention collectors: This booth is giving away a set of 1991 Twins bobble heads.

MN Dept. of Agriculture
(Agriculture Horticulture Bldg., west hall)

Free food! Win $5,000 grocery gift certificates.

MN Turkey Research Promotion

(Dairy Bldg., center aisle)

Panini presses.

Schmitt Music Company
(Lower Grandstand, southwest quadrant)

Acoustic guitar, electric guitars

Space Case

(Corner of Cooper Street & Lee Avenue)

Pimp your ride and wine a Jase Installed vehicle mural.

Star Tribune
(North side of Carnes Avenue, between Chambers & Nelson Streets)


(North side of Carnes Avenue, between Nelson Street & Grandstand Ramp)

Win a trip for two to see The Ellen Show.

ZRS Fossils and Gifts Natural
(Lower Grandstand, northeast quadrant)

Win a crystal lamp. Pretty!

Up next: Entertainment and animals


Miracle of Birth Center
(Judson Avenue, at Clough Street next to the Lee and Rose Warner Coliseum)

Meet baby cows, pigs, colts, and other adorable miniatures while learning about the circle of life.

Horse shows:

(The Lee and Rose Warner Coliseum, corner of Judson Avenue and Clough Street)

Do you have a horse-fanatic in your family? Is that person you? Check out these free horse shows throughout the next two weeks.

English Horse Show
•    Wednesday, Aug. 24 through Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2011
Western Horse Show
•    Friday, Sept. 2 through Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 5, 2011
High School Rodeo
•    Wednesday, Aug. 31 through Friday, Sept. 2, 2011

Daily Parade

This parade, featuring marching bands, floats, and costumed characters starts at 2 p.m. and covers 14 blocks. Follows the music and you will find a spot.

Swine Barn
(Judson Avenue and Stevens Street)

Here's were the giant pig hangs out.

Butter sculptures
(Dairy Building)

Come check out Princess Kay and her subjects rendered in sculptures made from 90 pounds of butter.

Butter Head Sculpture - Minnesota State Fair from Ochen K. on Vimeo.

Live music:

Can't afford to take in a show at the Grandstand? Check out the schedules for these free fair venues:

Leinie Lodge
(Shows start at 8:30 p.m.)

•    Aug. 25-26: Morris Day & the Time
•    Aug. 27-28: Ricky Skaggs
•    Aug. 29-30: Don Felder
•    Aug. 31-Sept. 1: The Midtown Men
•    Sept. 2-3: Dr. John & the Lower 911
•    Sept. 4-5: Tapes 'n Tapes
International Bazaar Stage
(7:30 p.m., 9 p.m.)

•    Aug. 25-26: The Belfast Cowboys
•    Aug. 27-28: Free and Easy
•    Aug. 29-30: Rubber Soul - Beatles Tribute
•    Aug. 31-Sept. 1: Ronn Easton's All Star Soul Review
•    Sept. 2-3: Boiled in Lead
•    Sept. 4-5: High & Mighty

Festival of Nations Demo Stage
(In the International Bazaar at noon, 1:30, 3:00 and 4:30 p.m.)

•    Aug. 25: Lebanese Belly Dancers
•    Aug. 26: O'Shea Irish Dancers
•    Aug. 27: Hybar International Dancers
•    Aug. 28: Japanese Dance and Kimono Demonstration
•    Aug. 29: Thai Vegetable Carver
•    Aug. 30: Italian Organ Grinder
•    Aug. 31: Thai Vegetable Carver
•    Sept. 1: Lebanese Belly Dancers
•    Sept. 2: Orkestar Bez Ime
•    Sept. 3: Armenian Dancers
•    Sept. 4: O'Shea Irish Dancers
•    Sept. 5: Lebanese Belly Dancers

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