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Seniors Out and About in the Twin Cities: State Fair 2022

The Great Minnesota Get-Together will officially open Aug. 25th  through Labor Day, Sept. 5th, 2022!  After a slow year in 2021 Minnesotans are planning their return to one of the biggest State Fairs in the country!  Last year the fair had some hiccups with vendors, and suppliers all playing a part in lower fair attendance. This year State Fair vendors are reporting they are ready to get back to the normal fair crowds and fun!

 



What is your plan?

Many fair-goers are creatures of habit when they attend. Making their annual trek to Machinery Hill, the Grandstand, Space Needle, or Midway. They never miss out on Sweet Martha’s cookies and all the milk you can drink! Perhaps this is the year you want to start a new habit with Blue Ribbon Bingo or Survival the Exhibition.  Doesn't everyone like bingo?

 

Seniors Day

Let’s start with a way to get into the Fair and save some money–seniors always love saving money--so start out on a positive note!   Discounted admission price for seniors at the entrance gates on both Monday, August 29th and Thursday, September 1st is $12 for seniors (65+) and you buy the tickets at the gate.   If you are senior early bird specials are offered on Mighty Midway and Kidway rides & games until 1 p.m.  So be sure to bring the Grandkids along for the rides! 

 

Safety

Over the past several years safety has been a bigger concern at all venues including the state fair.  In 2021 the State Fair worked with the Ramsey County sheriff’s department to provide security.  This year the State Fair has hired almost 100 of its own police force and will continue to have Ramsey County sheriff’s deputies at the fair working as well.  About 30-40 Minnesota State Troopers will also be present to assist.  So rest assured there is a good police presence this year.  Expect slight delays at the gates where everyone will pass through metal detectors as they did in 2021.  

 

Watch the Heat

August and early September can be some of the warmest days of the summer. Stay ahead of the heat and enjoy the beautiful trees all around. Keeping cool at the fair is commonly done with a cold drink and a cool breeze. Just outside the Skyride and Space Needle, there is a large grove of trees with lots of benches at the Leinie's Lodge Bandshell. This is a great place to listen to live music, watch people, and cool down. If you’re looking for a cool mist, you may want to head over to the Haunted House across from the Horticulture building. Cooling down here is a little dependent on the direction of the wind but when that mist hits you on a hot day it’s fantastic.

If someone does get overheated and needs medical assistance, the security headquarters, located on Dan Patch Avenue and just across from the west entrance to the Skyride, serves as an emergency medical facility. They would have ice packs and personnel to assist with heat-related issues.

For additional tips or if you are particularly concerned about the heat, check out this blog on summer safety for seniors.

 

Fair Food

How do you even write about food at the Minnesota State Fair? It’s the focal point for so many people when they attend. Just about everyone has their favorite: Sweet Martha’s Cookies; Funnel Cake; Alligator; Cheese Curds; and the list goes on. Every year the fair holds a competition for new vendors and food choices. Despite your favorites being a habit, you might want to sample a few of the new foods at the fair this year.  One that I’m going to try this year is the Mini Hot Hot–Smoked Rib Tips tossed in Nashville Hot Sauce, served with Comeback Sauce–that will make me come back!   Leave it to Lift Bridge to open a spot with some great-sounding sodas.  Lift Bridge Root Beer, Lift Bridge Black Cherry Soda, pink lemonade, and more.  O’Gara’s often is a favorite of mine as it has places to sit, with live music and now they have Reuben rolls as a new food this year as well.  There seem to be more new foods than I can recall in recent years so here is a handy printable link so you can find and remember them all!  

 

Free Music

The Leinie Lodge Bandshell, located at the base of the Space Tower between Cooper and Cosgrove Streets, features a mix of national and local acts, and this year’s nighttime lineup includes Low Cut Connie, The Jayhawks, Caitlyn Smith, and The Family Stone. Daytime offerings have performances by Kelly Willis, Deke Dickerson, Becky Schlegel and the High 48s, and the Irish bluegrass group We Banjo 3.

In the West End Market, Schell’s Stage at Schilling Amphitheater showcases local music, and this year’s bill is no exception, with Durry, Annie Mack, Turn Turn Turn, and Gully Boys all enjoying a pair of nights.  First Avenue will also put together a couple of nighttime lineups with a range of local artists to be announced. Daytime acts include Good Morning Bedlam, Rich Mattson and the Northstars, Jillian Rae, Kinda Fonda Wanda, and recent transplant to Minnesota, Jake La Botz.  For the full lineup at the fair click here.

The Grandstand is where you want to go for more of a concert environment. It’s not free but you can see some excellent stars from the past and present. Check here for tickets and show information.  

 

Accessibility

Once you arrive at the fair, you can rent wheelchairs and scooters from Hometown Mobility. It’s a good idea to reserve online or call 877-928-5388. They charge $5 to set up rentals by phone. There are several places to pick up your rental and a 24-hour advance reservation is required. If you want to recharge your own electric scooter or wheelchair there are two options on the fairgrounds: Care & Assistance south of West End Market is open 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, or the south side of the Grandstand outside between the entrance doors--outlets are designated with disability signs.

There are buses and trollies inside the fairgrounds that can help you get from place to place. Check at the information desk for specific routes and fares. 

 

Handicap Parking

The fair has handicapped parking on a first-come-first-served basis. The cost is the same as standard parking ($17). This gets you close to the access points for the fairgrounds on a hard surface. Parking generally surrounds the fairgrounds but click the link for the best way for you to access the fair.

 

Restrooms

The fair has spent a lot of money upgrading its restrooms to be accessible. So there are many more options than several years ago. State Fair maps have clearly designated handicap bathrooms marked. Here you will find grab bars and adequate space for mobility assistance devices. Paper maps are readily available at information booths or at the entrance to the fair.

 

Public Transportation

State Fair Express Bus service features free parking and a direct bus ride to the fairgrounds for a $5 fee from farther-out suburbs around the Twin Cities. Express Bus lots are serviced by Metro Transit, Minnesota Valley Transit Authority, and Southwest Transit. 

In addition, several regular Metro Transit bus routes drop you off right at the fairgrounds. View a map of the Transit Hub at Gate #16. Visit metrotransit.org/StateFair for more information about Express Bus service, regular bus routes, and how to purchase bus tickets.

 

Have Fun!

Don’t be shy about bringing seniors to the fair. This is a place for everyone where the aromas and atmosphere bring back many fond memories for all. Generally to get the most out of the day with a senior, take a slower pace, stay ahead of heat-related issues, and smile a lot!