Minnesota State Fair on a budget: Awesome stuff to do for free (or almost free)

Minnesota State Fair on a budget: Awesome stuff to do for free (or almost free)
Image courtesy of the Minnesota State Fair

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The Minnesota State Fair is finally in full swing, as it opened last Thursday. For those on a budget who still want to take in the sights, smells, and sounds of the event, we've put together a little list of free and cheap things to do. The list includes great free music shows, $1 deals (chocolate milk! shrimp cocktail! bath bombs!), and chances to win something big (cars! iPads! a year's supply of Mr. Bubble!).


Are you planning on buying sampling from a lot of different vendors? You might want to think about spending $5 on a Blue Ribbon Bargain Book. They're filled with freebies, discounts, and other special deals that will quickly add up if you've got a lot on your itinerary. You can buy them at the State FairWear Gift Shops and State Fair Foundation Souvenir Kiosks. You can check out all of the coupons inside here.

Minnesota State Fair on a budget: Awesome stuff to do for free (or almost free)
Image courtesy of the Minnesota State Fair

Free stuff:

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

Sling backpack, yard sticks.

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

Reflector lights, sidewalk chalk, tattoos, bracelets, T-shirts, pails and shovels, and hand sanitizer (which may come in use at the fair).

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

Beads, toy fairies, rings, carabiners, car toys, suckers.

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


Jim Hansel Editions
(Lower Grandstand)

Signed art cards.

Midwest Dairy Assn. of MN
(Dairy Bldg.)

Recipe books, trading cards.

MN Department of Transportation
(Education Building)

Highway maps.

MN Farm Bureau Federation
(Underwood St.)

Grocery bags, recipe books, trading cards.

MN Health Fairs
(Crossroads Building)

Hearing aid batteries, ear plugs, bags, candy.

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

Plastic bags, lip balm.

Minnesota State Fair on a budget: Awesome stuff to do for free (or almost free)
Image courtesy of the Minnesota State Fair

Stuff that costs $1 or less:

All the Milk You Can Drink
(Midwest Dairy Assn. of MN, Dairy Bldg., Underwood St. and Judson Ave. or Judson Ave. between Clough & Nelson Streets)

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

Rollergirl Can Koozies
(Underwood Street)

Keep your beer cold for $.50.

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, pepperjack, or co-jack) for $1 each.

(Flora's Dress Emporium, Heritage Square)

$1 per pair.

Lemonade and Shrimp Cocktail
(S-30 Judson Ave. & Underwood St.)

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

Mr. Bubble
(Wright Ave. at Cosgrove St.)

Bubble bath samples, fizzy bubble bombs, tub coolers, and sock packets for $1.

Peacock Feathers
(India Imports, International Bazaar)

Ride the feather trend with affordable feathers.

Sand Art
(Upper Grandstand)

Create sand art on the cheap.

Cool things to enter to win:

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

Win a limo tour.

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


KMSP Fox 9/WFTC My 29
(Nelson Street)

Win a Mazda CX5 Sedan.

KQQL 108 FM Radio
(Underwood Street)


Mr. Bubble
(Wright Ave. at Cosgrove St.)

Win a year's supply of bubble bath.

Space Case
(Corner of Cooper Street & Lee Avenue)

Pimp your ride and win a vehicle mural.

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 Shows: Performance Classes (Warner Coliseum):
Tuesday, Aug. 28 at 6 p.m.

Western Horse Shows--Performance Classes (Warner Coliseum):
Friday, Aug. 31 at 6 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 1 at 6 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 2 at 8 a.m., 12:30, and 6 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 3 at 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

Western Horse Shows--Halter Classes (Warner Coliseum):
Friday, Aug. 31 at 7:30 a.m.

High School Rodeo (Warner Coliseum):
Wednesday, Aug. 29 at 6 p.m.
Thursday, Aug. 30 at noon, 6 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 31 at noon

Minnesota High School Rodeo Cutting Horse Competition (AgStar Arena):
Wednesday, Aug. 29 at 10 a.m.

Daily Parade

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

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. 28: Hairball
  •     Aug. 29 & 30: The Mavericks
  •     Aug. 31 & Sept. 1: Wilson Phillips
  •     Sept. 2 & 3: Bettye LaVette

International Bazaar Stage
(7:30 p.m., 9 p.m.)

  •     Aug. 28: Davina & The Vagabonds
  •     Aug. 29 & 30:  K-Libre 24
  •     Aug. 31 & Sept. 1: Hookers & Blow
  •     Sept. 2 & 3: Tropical Zone Orchestra

Heritage Square
(6:30, 7:45 p.m.)

  •     Aug. 28: JD McPherson
  •     Aug. 29 & 30: Monroe Crossing
  •     Aug. 31 & Sept. 1: The New Standards
  •     Sept. 2 & 3: Molly Maher & Erik Koskinen
Use Current Location

Related Location

Minnesota State Fair Grandstand

1265 Snelling Ave. N.
St. Paul, MN 55108


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