The Minnesota State Fair is adding new attractions and exhibits this year, ranging from a Great Big Sandbox to an outdoor aerial laser show set to popular music.
One new exhibit calls itself: “Minnesota, Land of 10,000 Beers.” Another exhibit displays bedbugs, including a photo opportunity.
There are also new, and welcomed, additional Park and Ride locations.
(Photos: Minnesota State Fair)
Soaring domes and extensive tunnels will immerse fair guests in light and color as they walk through an inflatable sculpture. Described as a “sanctuary of the senses,” the 11,000-square-foot Luminarium is a creation of Architects of Air, based in the United Kingdom. Admission is $4; children under 5 are free.
There are a total of six luminaria touring and the State Fair will be hosting Mirazozo. Additional images and video are available at their website.
Located at the intersection of Cooper Street and Murphy Avenue, east of the Pet Center
Lasertainment’s Laser Hitz Show
High-powered aerial laser beams dance above fair guests while colorful images light up a gigantic screen – all choreographed to popular music from classic rock to today’s latest hits with a special patriotic finale. Shows begin nightly at 9 p.m.
Located outdoors at the intersection of Cosgrove Street and Randall Avenue
Pianos on Parade
Pianos on Parade is a project that places “artistically transformed” pianos around St. Paul to encourage residents and visitors to spontaneously engage in art and music with one another. One of the unique pianos, designed by Andrew Kurcan, stops at Baldwin Park for all to play and enjoy during the 12 days of the State Fair.
Located in Family Fair at Baldwin Park
(Above) World of Wonders, Palace of Illusions
Nostalgic sideshow entertainment returns to the Mighty Midway with illusionists including sword swallowers, fire breathers, escape artists and more.
Located on the Mighty Midway
Great Big Sandbox
Kids can dig, scoop, pour and burrow their toes in a sandbox made just for them.
Located east of the Family Fair Stage in Baldwin Park (and next to a new-last-year mega restroom building)
12’12’12: Twelve Hours, Twelve Days
For 12 hours, each of the 12 days of the 2012 fair, Minnesota artist will give a glimpse into how art is created. The featured artists work in 2D and 3D media. Some artists include Cheng-Khee Chee, Sean Smuda, and more.
Located in the Fine Arts Center
Boy Scouts Adventure Summit
The Boy Scouts Adventure Summit is a free, interactive ropes climbing course and zip-line activity brought to the fair by the Northern Star Council Boy Scouts of America. Boys and girls ages five to 15 can test their climbing skills and conquer a tall zip-line. The course at the fair is a smaller version of activities offered at the urban Base Camp at Fort Snelling.
Located in The North Woods
3rd Lair SkatePark Lessons
Riders featured in 3rd Lair SkatePark shows at The X-Zone will be on hand to teach students the basics of skateboarding and BMX riding. Lessons cost $20 and last 20 minutes.
Located on the northwest corner of Murphy Avenue and Underwood Street in The X-Zone
Seven New Mighty Midway Attractions
Bubble House Fun House: Laugh your way through this playful obstacle course with a super-fun, novel bubble room.
Flipper (above): Set the fun factor to the max as freely rotating cars tilt to dizzying angles.
Freak Out: Climb to new heights at the end of a gigantic pendulum swinging back and forth – and back and forth – to the point just before 360 degrees.
Fun Factory: Fling every which way in a gondola that (of course) rotates too.
Orbiter: Test your adrenaline as giant arms sweep you toward the horizon and then rotate 360 degrees horizontally AND vertically.
Sizzler: As you’re suspended in your own spinning car, experience the sensation that you’re about to crash into the other cars.
Stratosphere: A soaring gondola flies you around a 190-foot tower to experience breathtaking views of the fairgrounds and beyond.
New Kidway Rides
Granny Bugs: Hitch a ride with a friendly bug and wiggle around a giant apple.
Jumping Jumbos: Be whisked away in a parade of flying elephants led by none other than – a mouse!
Kid Power: True to its name, Kid Power is the place for kids to unleash their energy as they play in this obstacle course.
Down on the Farm Tractor Ride: Take a seat in a realistic-looking tractor and ride around as if you’re out in the field and on the farm.
Located at Kidway
Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild “Land of 10,000 Beers”
Fair guests can learn about Minnesota’s brewing history, how craft beer is made here and what’s new in our state’s growing craft brew industry. Guests may also talk with craft brewers and sample flights of Minnesota craft beers.
Located in the west hall of the Agriculture Horticulture Building
Beer not your thing? Then head for the new wine exhibit:
Minnesota Wine Country
Information about how the North Star State’s vineyards and wineries produce the finest wines. Top that with a purchase of local wine paired with fresh, eclectic food.
Located on Underwood St. between Judson and Carnes Aves.
AgStar Arena is the fair’s newest building and home to horse, cattle, llama, goat and sheep competitions among 4-H, FFA and open-class exhibitors. This new building, as reported last year in the Daily Planet, was supported by more than 200 contributions to the Minnesota State Fair Foundation.
Located on Judson Avenue west of the Horse Barn
Eco Experience – New Features for 2012
Presented by the Minnesota State Fair and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the Eco Experience showcases renewable energy and exhibits on air, water, land, green buildings, organic culture and local foods. This year, the exhibit includes:
• Energy Solutions Exhibit: Fair guests can discover how to save energy and water, improve their home’s performance, and learn about using green and renewable products in their home.
• Healthy Local Food Area: Through a combination of photo-murals and first-person storytelling, visitors will explore the importance of farmers markets both now and throughout history.
• Basic Bicycle Maintenance: Join the biking craze and learn how to do bicycle safety checks, tire changes and helmet fitting, plus ask questions of bike shop experts.
Located in the Progress Center
Minnesota Department of Agriculture Exhibit. Hate bedbugs? Learn to understand these pesky insects:
Visit the Le Due Motel to learn how to protect you and your family from the growing problem of bedbugs. See scientific examples of bedbugs and take a fun photo.
At Borlaug’s Meats, test your inspection skills in detecting correct temperatures in meat storage units and find out about the role of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture as an inspector and regulator of food safety in convenience stores.
Minnesota Grown Family Fun: Discover how to have even more family fun on your next visit to the apple orchard, U-Pick farm, pumpkin patch and more.
Backyard and Camping Experience: Explore the exhibit’s camping area. Learn to recognize the damage gypsy moths and emerald ash borers can cause and how to prevent their spread.
Located in the Agriculture Horticulture Building
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Exhibit
Get an up-close look at invasive species – emerald ash borers, buckthorn, zebra mussels and Eurasian water milfoil – at the new CSI-like invasive species station. Through new displays, interactive activities, models, specimens and an informational video, you’ll also learn how these species become threats to our natural resources and recreational activities, and how to prevent their spread. Plus, several new presentations will be part of the DNR Outdoor Stage lineup, including confiscated trophy antlers on display and a celebrity fish-filleting contest.
Located at the DNR Building
Military Appreciation Day’s Welcome Home Celebration
On Tuesday, Aug. 28, Military Appreciation Day at the fair, a Welcome Home Celebration will begin at 10:30 a.m. with hundreds of uniformed service members from all branches marching from the flag-raising ceremony at the Leinie Lodge Bandshell to Carousel Park. At Carousel Park, the service members will be greeted by military and state leaders and enjoy a “Tribute to the Troops” concert by country artist Rockie Lynne.
Celebration begins at Leinie Lodge Bandshell then continues in Carousel Park
Minnesota High School Rodeo Cutting Horse Competition
Guests can experience the most athletic horses and riders working to separate cattle from the herd in the fast-action cutting horse competition. Courage, intuition and expert horsemanship are all part of this new competition at AgStar Arena on Wednesday, Aug. 29at 10 a.m.
Located at AgStar Arena
People’s Choice Awards
State Fair goers are invited to cast ballots for favorites in six categories: Best Food or Beverage; Best Food or Beverage Value; Best Customer Experience at a Food or Beverage Vendor; Best Non-Food Product or Service; Best Non-Food Product or Service Value; and Best Customer Experience at a Non-Food Vendor. Voting takes place at the fairgrounds beginning opening day and ends at 9 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 28. Ballots are available at all information booths. Winners will be announced at 10 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 30, at the International Bazaar Stage.
Ford Plant: what’s closed is now State Fair park & ride
Park & Ride: The Ford Plant parking lot has been added as a Park & Ride location where fair guests can park free and ride a free bus to the fairgrounds. The lot, with more than 800 parking spaces, will be open all 12 days of the fair from 8 a.m. to midnight and is located at Ford Pkwy. and Mississippi Blvd. in the Highland Park neighborhood of St. Paul.
Express Bus: Four new State Fair Express Bus service locations have been added. Buses will run all 12 days of the fair from: National Sports Center (1700 105th Ave. NE, Blaine) and Parade Stadium (600 Kenwood Pkwy., across from Dunwoody, Minneapolis). Buses will run weekends and Labor Day from: Knox Ave. at Best Buy Park & Ride (7601 Penn Ave., Richfield) and Chanhassen Transit Station (500 Market St., Chanhassen). Express Bus service is $5 per person round-trip; children four and under are free. Parking at each site is free. Hours of service and departure times may vary by location.
State Fair Express Bus riders can also save money with a new group ticket. Four round-trip rides are offered for the price of three – just $15.
The 2012 Minnesota State Fair runs Aug. 23 until Labor Day, Sept. 3. Admission information is on their website.
(Above) 3rd Lair SkatePark Lessons