The start of the Minnesota State Fair is now less than a month away, and organizers on Tuesday announced a slate of new attractions, improvements and upgrades for the 2023 edition of the fair.
Among the new features: A special morning session on the Mighty Midway and Kidway, aimed at visitors with sensory sensitivities.
The new morning session — set for Aug. 28, the first Monday of the fair, will feature reduced lighting and sound, and limited non-safety related announcements on both the Midway and Kidway, for fairgoers with autism or other sensory-processing challenges. It will run from 9-11 a.m. at the Kidway and from 10 a.m. to noon at the Midway.
There’ll be two new Kidway rides this year, and fair officials announced Tuesday that Mighty Midway and Kidway ride and game tickets will be loaded onto a “Fun Card,” replacing paper tickets.
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This year’s Minnesota State Fair opens on Aug. 24 and runs through Labor Day, Sept. 4.
Among other new events, attractions and upgrades this year:
There will be a Pan-Latino Day at Dan Patch Park on Saturday, Sept. 2, a festival of music, dance and art highlighting “the diversity represented under the colorful panorama of Latin American cultures in Minnesota.”
A redeveloped Gate 9 along Como Avenue will welcome visitors this year on the south side of the fairgrounds. It’ll include wider, more accessible gates, an expanded bike lot — replacing the previous free bike lot at Snelling and Como — as well as a wheelchair, scooter and stroller rental area, benches and art installations.
Can Can Wonderland will offer “Mini Golf On-A-Stick” — a nine-hole course at the North End, featuring State Fair landmarks such as the Giant Slide and Ferris wheel.
The “Sweet & Selfie Experience” will be open daily at the fair’s North End Event Center. It’s described as a “fun, sugar-filled exhibit for all ages” featuring larger-than-life sweets and displays with facts about candy.
The fair will include a “fully accessible, universally designed, mobile restroom equipped with a full-size adjustable changing table, a ceiling hoist and other amenities,” for people with mobility limitations and their caregivers. It will be located on the east side of Cosgrove Street, north of Lee Avenue.
Theater Day at Dan Patch Park will take place on Wednesday, Aug. 30, featuring “Madagascar — A Musical Adventure JR.” The performances at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. — organized by ETC Productions and Apple Valley High School — bring together performers and technicians, ages 15 to 19, from across the Twin Cities.
There also will be 45 new merchandise, service and nonprofit booths on the fairgrounds.
New competitions and themes
There will be a host of new fair competitions or competition themes this year, including “Roadside Attractions” in the cake decorating contest, “Shoes” in the decorated cookie competition, and “Pets” in the decorated cupcake contest.
The theme of the Quilt On-A-Stick competition — an 8-by-9-inch creation with a paint-stirring stick inserted — will be “The Fair at First Light.”
The Minnesota State Fair Flower Show’s theme will be “Minnesota Loves Summer”
The theme of the Minnesota State Florists Association’s Floralpalooza will be “Happily Ever After.”
There will be three FFA agricultural mechanics competitions over Labor Day weekend — a Small Engines Build-Off timed contest for students in grades 10 through 12 on Friday; a Wood Construction Build-Off for teams of two to build a bench on Saturday; and a Weld-Off on Sunday for competitors to complete a metal campfire grate.