The gates open at 6:00 a.m. and what waits inside is an entirely different fair experience than the blazing mid-day heat and thick crowds that come later. The 4H kids are tending animals, the lights are still just beginning to blink on and there aren’t lines for anything.
Get there early and stop in at one of these stands that open first thing in the morning.
West side of Liggett St. between Carnes and Judson avenues
It’s all the morning protien on a stick a fair goer could ever want. A hard-cooked egg is expertly encased in slightly salty pork sausage before getting a deep fry and being skewered on the ubiquitous stick. There is a side of ranch sauce for those who want the full Midwestern experience.
Eggs, Bacon and a Muffin
North side of Dan Patch Ave. between Underwood and Cooper streets
This historic hall turns 120 this year and serves everything a loving Minnesotan grandmother might for breakfast: eggs, bacon, hash browns, pancakes, cinnamon rolls, muffins, pie and even a bowl of cereal if all the fried stuff is getting overwhelming.
Pop Rocks French Toast
The Blue Barn
At West End Market, south of the History and Heritage Center
Conveniently located right by where the park and ride buses drop off fair goers, the appropriately named stand run by the Blue Plate Company (the folks behind restaurants like the Highland Grill) serves a mean and easy-to-tote breakfast that’s one of the most fun things to eat at the fair. French toast is topped with strawberry sauce, whipped cream and a sprinkling of Pop Rocks candy.
Lulu’s Public House
At West End Market, south of the Schilling Ampitheater
One step beyond monkey bread is gorilla bread, sweetened dough is laced with cinnamon, covered in caramel sauce and topped with cream cheese frosting. This is also an ideal spot for a breakfast beer with the Brew Free! Or Die Blood Orange IPA on tap.
North side of Carnes Ave. between Nelson and Underwood streets
This stand is ground zero for breakfast pastries, but when this unholy union of croissant and doughnut is served fresh out of the fryer and pounded with powdered sugar, nothing is better.
Salem Lutheran Church
North side of Randall Ave. south of the Progress Center
Forgive the apparent egg coffee obsession, but it’s a rare treat that blends a singular love of the caffinated that unites coffee snobs and little old ladies from the Iron Range. It’s an utterly smooth, plain Jane cup of Joe that’s only available here during this glorious time of year.
Tom Thumb Donuts
2 Locations: Southwest corner of Carnes Ave. and Underwood St. and West side of Cooper St. between Wright and Dan Patch avenues, south of the Kidway
It’s not the fair without a piping hot sack of these little irresistible cinnamon, sugar covered doughnuts.