After you buy your ticket to get into the Minnesota State Fair, keep these exhibits in mind that will keep you entertained without spending a dime.
"Every year when we're planning an annual State Fair we're always think about what new free elements can we incorporate to make the Fair an even better value for people coming out here," said Brienna Schuette, communications manager wtih the Minnesota State Fair.
Free Entertainment Stages
"The Fair's own stages have over 100 different performers with over 50 different genres of music," said Schuette.
Fom music to performances, check out the free shows on several stages throughout the fairground. The State Fair books performances on seven stages, but different concessionaires also schedule their own performance or demonstration along nearly every street.
"The State Fair has a number of free entertainment stages that are located all throughout the Fairgrounds everything from singing and dancing to comedians and jugglers and the lumberjack show," said Schuette. "Free entertainment is everywhere at the Fair and it's all built into your admission price."
You can also see living history in action in Heritage Square.
"The log cabin here in Heritage Square is one of the best hidden secrets of the fair," said Kathryn Roberts, historical interpreter at the cabin. "We try to do as accurate a depiction of pioneer life as we can in the middle of the State Fair."
You can visit the pioneer log cabin to see how people lived one hundred years ago. There are several artifacts on site as well as demonstrations like woodworking and blacksmithing.
Play in the sand
The Great Big Sandbox is a new exhibit where kids can play in the sand for as long as they want. The sandbox is located east of the Family Fair in Baldwin Park and is open everyday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
"It's also a place for mom and dad to rest their feet. You've got some picnic tables where you can stop and relax while the kids are creative and hopefully build some blue ribbon sandcastles," said Schuette.
Giant Sing Along
Sing your heart out at this exhibit that was so popular when it debuted last year, it's back in 2012. The Giant Sing Along is a field of microphones where you can tackle your karaoke fear without having to get up on stage alone. It's open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and is located on Murphy Avenue across from the Pet Center. A new song plays every two minutes.
Learn all about your letters State Fair style in the interactive Alphabet Forest exhibit located in Baldwin Park. Grab a pamphlet to play the alphabet game. Go through the fair matching letters to signs or experiences and then bring it back for a blue ribbon. Kids can play word games, meet a Minnesota author or make a free craft to take home. Before you leave, make sure you snap a picture with your name in State Fair Letters as a souvenir. This area is open daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Don't Forget About the Parades
The State Fair Mall Parade begins everyday at 2 p.m. and features high school marching bands, floats, animals, and special attractions. The Champlin Park High School marching band will compete on Friday. The 14-block route begins near the Haunted House, goes north on Crosgrove Street, west on Randall Avenue and then south on Underwood Street. Parades are announced at the Bandshell and at Baldwin Park. For a schedule and more information, check out this site.
Shannon Slatton, reporting
Wednesday, August 29, 2012