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A Cheapskate’s Guide to the Minnesota State Fair

It is possible to go without going broke

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So many cheap cold treats
Minnesota State Fair Dairy Goodness Bar / Website

It’s easy to go broke at the Great Minnesota Get Together. The cost of the new novelty foods are inching ever higher. However, some savvy planning and arming yourselves with a solid plan does make it possible to navigate the giant fairgrounds and still leave with a couple of dollars in your pockets.

Check the day

There is a whole list of special deal days.

  • Wednesday August 29 is read and ride day. Flash a current library card and get discounted admission.
  • Thursday August 30 is Senior’s day, one of the many benefits of age and wisdom. Plus early bird discounts on the Mighty Midway and Kidway rides before 1pm.
  • Monday September 3 eases in the end of the fair and summer for young ones with kids day. Aged 5 to 9 get in for just $5, plus there are discounts at Kidway rides.

Mmmmm... milkshake
Mike Marcotte / Give Me the Mike

Free Dairy

The Moo Booth has a counter on the corner between the Cattle Barn and the Swine Barn that gives away free dairy goods like pudding cups or cheese sticks.

The Kemps "Mooseum," focuses on the Minnesota company, and at certain times of the day, indicated on a giant clock in front, they give away ice cream and other goodies. There is usually a line, so send one grown-up to wait while another takes the kiddies on a spin through the-also-free Little Farm Hands next door. At the end of that agricultural adventure, little ones get a free ice cream up, too.

All kinds of dairy goodness at the fair
Minnesota State Fair Dairy Goodness Bar / Website

The Dairy Goodness Bar, located in a corner of the Dairy Building, the same place showing off those magnificent butter sculptures, has a ton of great deals, like yogurt or cheese sticks for a buck. On August 31, two cones of soft serve are just $5.

All You Can Drink Milk

Located on the corner of Judson and Clough, kitty-corner from the Coliseum, is the popular stand that sells unlimited cups of milk for just $2. The plain pairs best with Sweet Martha’s chocolate chip cookies, but chocolate is hard to pass up.

Get Caffeinated on the Cheap

Those tastemakers at Peace Coffee are sampling the local shops’ Tree Hugger Blend, Morning Glory Blend, and Birchwood blends from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Eco Experience. Plus, there are free magnets and the only thing that beats free coffee at the fair is the free swag. Read all about what they’re up to here.

Rutana’s Hot Apple Dumplings also offers $1 coffees for those cooler fair mornings. The bright booth is located just outside of the Progress Center.

Spring for breakfast at Tejas Express, like a $5 egg and cheese burrito and pick up a free cup of coffee inside The Garden.

Salem Lutheran Church’s egg coffee (it’s just a regular cup of coffee) is just $2. Located near the Eco Experience building.

Feed kids for less than two dollars here
Giggles Campfire Grill / Facebook

Feed Kids on the Cheap

The kids lunch at Giggles Campfire Grill is just $1.75,. Picky-kid friendly food includes chicken strips, steak fries and an apple juice box. Plus, anyone can get Giggle’s famous walleye cakes at a discount with a coupon from the Blue Ribbon Bargain Book, which includes coupons for a ton of vendors. Books are available for $5 during the fair at State FairWear Gift Shops and Bargain Book & State Fair Poster Carts

The Midtown Produce Exchange sells peaches the size of a toddler’s head for just $3.

It’s not the Fair If It’s Not Fried

Danielson’s & Daughters have been serving their long ribbons of crusty onion rings since 1956 and these are a classic for a reason. Reasonably priced at $5 a tray, sweet onions are dipped in a light batter and then fried just before serving. Find them on the outside of the south side entrance of the Food Building.

The Mouth Trap serves what are widely considered the best cheese curds at the State Fair and a hearty little basket of these gooey, crisp nuggets are just $5 inside the Food Building.

Get your fill of these cold treats for just a few bucks
Joy Summers/Eater Twin Cities

Just Chill

Johnny Pops is a local company that makes a high-quality frozen treat with no added shenanigans. Just pure fruit, cream, sweetness and kindness go into these bars. A $10 wristband gets unlimited strawberry, coffee, chocolate and more junior pops. Plus, each popsicle stick carries a message of good deeds. Share a picture of paying that kindness forward and you might win a free t-shirt and box of pops. Find them just behind the SkyRide by the Metro Transit hub.

It’s a freezey push up for only a $1.50 and it’s pretty much health food. The frozen apple cider sticks at Minnesota Apple inside the Agriculture building is a State Fair classic treat, made from cider squeezed at White Bear Lake’s Pine Tree Orchard.

Caramel Apples, Cotton Candy, Sno Kones have $1 sno cones at the South side of Randall Ave. between Underwood & Cooper streets.

Two beers for $6

Free Stuff!

Each summer, several Touring Promotional Exhibits pull into the fair. This year, Sahale Snacks are giving away samples of theier sweet/savory nut mixes.

Here for the Beer

At Midway Mens Club, forget the foofy novelty beers and go for the $3.50 brews inside this club that has been a fair fixture since 1963. Plus, a no frills burger is also just a couple of dollars and all the proceeds benefit St. Paul Youth programs.

BYOW: Bring Water

The State Fair allows outside beverages. So, don’t forget to pack a few water bottles.

Or, hit the Culligan Hydration Station, where cups of water are free, just don’t try to fill up your water bottle there. It’s unsanitary. Find that at the corner of Dan Patch Av. and Cosgrove St.

What are your best tips for getting through the fair without going broke? Let us know in the comments.

Minnesota State Fairgrounds

1265 Snelling Ave N, Falcon Heights, MN 55108 (651) 288-4400 Visit Website