Newest State Fair treat: An air-conditioned building

Construction workers prepare for the opening of the North End Event Center.
Construction workers are getting ready for the opening of the North End Event Center for the 2019 Great Minnesota Get-Together.
Sophia Sura | MPR News

A new 24,000-square-foot exhibit hall and fair entrance will open its doors Aug. 22 at the Minnesota State Fair, the latest expansion of the Great Minnesota Get-Together.

The $16 million project has been in the works for years on the north end of the fair, near the Hangar food hall, just off Snelling Avenue. It’s just inside the north entrance, the third busiest gate to the fairgrounds.

The fair’s new North End Event Center is a 12,000-square-foot event hall.
The fair’s new North End Event Center is a 12,000-square-foot event hall that will be the home to annually changing exhibits that fair guests can enjoy for free with fair admission Wednesday.
Sophia Sura | MPR News

Fair general manager Jerry Hammer said the North End Event Center will be the home to annually changing exhibits that fair guests can enjoy with fair admission. The first offering will be Angry Birds Universe, a giant interactive exhibit that will include a zip line and a giant slingshot that flings “angry birds,” like the well known mobile gaming application.

The hall will also have what’s sure to be a permanent and major attraction: air conditioning. It will be the largest climate controlled space on the fairgrounds, suitable for traveling museum shows, like Smithsonian exhibits, and other climate-sensitive materials.

The space will also be available for non-fair events, ranging from weddings to meetings to trade shows, year round. A glass-walled, enclosed lobby outside the exhibit hall will serve as permanent and reusable gallery.

“We looked at remodeling buildings, and the only real answer was to build something now,” Hammer said. “And we’re here.”

Jerry Hammer explains the features of the new North End Event Center.
Jerry Hammer explains the features of the new 12,000-square-foot North End Event Center, which will open in August for the 2019 Minnesota State Fair.
Sophia Sura | MPR News

The project includes a massive new concrete plaza with more outdoor exhibits, as well as an upgrade to the fairgrounds entrance, replacing what one designer called “a hole in the fence,” that used to serve as the entrance off of Snelling Avenue, just south of Larpenteur Avenue.

Other new attractions to the 2019 Minnesota State Fair include an Indigenous Food Lab where Native chefs will demonstrate how to prepare foods of North America and share the history of an array of ingredients and dishes, an education station for the goat booth, and three new rides.

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