Big-kid bathrooms coming to the State Fair's Kidway

Construction crews build new Kidway restrooms.
Construction crews are building new restrooms for this year's Minnesota State Fair near Cooper Street and Dan Patch Avenue, on the south end of the popular Kidway attraction. It's one of several upgrades underway at the fair in preparation for this year's opening Aug. 25.
Tim Nelson | MPR News

No relief may be more welcome. The Minnesota State Fair is replacing one of its oldest, and most needed, amenities: the restroom at the south end of the Kidway rides at Dan Patch Avenue and Cooper Street.

The new facility is under construction right now on the fairgrounds, getting ready for the gates to open in August.

It's part of nearly $7 million in improvements to fair facilities and infrastructure approved in January. The other big-ticket item is a new stage for the Family Fair area in Baldwin Park. The stage traditionally hosts the free entertainment for crowds under the signature yellow awning on the north end of the fair.

Other improvements this year will include upgrades for the Horse Barn stalls and a new pedestrian path through the Adventure Park area.

Workers install footings for a Family Fair stage.
Workers install the footings for a new Family Fair stage in Baldwin Park at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds on Wednesday.
Tim Nelson | MPR News

Back in April, fair officials unveiled preliminary concept drawings for a major makeover of the north end of the fair, to include a new agricultural exposition area, an entrance plaza for Gate 2 on Hoyt Avenue, as well as a new amphitheater for performing arts. That project is scheduled for 2017 or 2018, depending on development and funding for the project.

In the meantime, the unofficial kickoff to fair season starts Thursday, with the unveiling of the 13th annual Minnesota State Fair commemorative art. Minneapolis mosaic artist Michael Sweere has been commissioned to create this year's edition, and his work will be the basis of the fair's annual poster.

This year's new food list will be released later this month, and new attractions will be unveiled in July.

The Minnesota State Fair is 76 days away, as of Thursday. It opens Aug. 25 and runs for 12 days through Labor Day, Sept. 5. Nearly 1.8 million people went to the fair in 2015.