The 2016 Minnesota State Fair starts this Thursday and runs through Labor Day -- featuring dozens of new attractions, exhibits and foods; a variety of discounts and special deal days; numerous special events; and hundreds of free live music and entertainment acts. Here's what you need to know.

New Attractions, Exhibits & Foods

Minnesota State Fair

Several new attractions make their State Fair debut in 2016, including National Park Service Centennial Day at Carousel Park on August 29th; the addition of a brand-new 6,540-square-foot restroom with 14 family restrooms located south of Kidway; Bulls & Barrels Championship in the Lee & Rose Warner Coliseum on September 5th; Recipe Card Roundup giveaway featuring six top ribbon-winning recipes in the Creative Activities Building; The Great Yoga Get-Together at Carousel Park on September 4th; and more.

Thirty-two new foods and two new vendors have been added to the fair’s list of more than 500 food options.

Minnesota State Fair

Music & Entertainment

The 2016 free entertainment lineup features more than 900 shows - all free with the price of State Fair admission.

Minnesota State Fair

The historic State Fair Grandstand is home to 11 nights of big-name entertainment including Alabama and the Dixie Chicks. Tickets are available HERE or by calling (800) 514-3849. A nightly Fireworks Spectacular follows each Grandstand show, weather permitting.

Special Events

Several special events are scheduled during this year’s Great Minnesota Get-Together.

Unite in Purple celebrates the life and legacy of Minnesota’s own Prince on Friday, August 26th from 5 PM to close. Everyone who attends is encouraged to wear purple in his honor. Visitors to the fair on that night will experience:

  • Prince music, tributes and cover songs at stages throughout the fairgrounds.
  • A Fireworks Spectacular featuring a Prince tribute.
  • A sea of fair visitors in purple and Prince gear.
  • A Prince Party in Carousel Park from 8:30-11 PM with music and dancing led by GenerationNOW’s DJ.
  • Dudley D, Prince’s personal tour DJ.
  • Lavender lighting on iconic fair buildings and carnival rides.
  • A Lasertainment’s Laser Hitz show featuring a one-night-only Prince finale.
  • Unite in Purple glow bracelets for the first 5,000 guests through the gates after 5 PM.
  • Unite in Purple buttons for the first 7,500 visitors through the gates after 5 PM.
  • Specials, surprises and purple products offered by food and merchandise vendors throughout the fairgrounds.
Minnesota State Fair

Military Appreciation Day is Tuesday, August 30th, when the Minnesota State Fair honors our nation’s heroes with admission discounts and special events throughout the day. The day begins at 9:30 AM with a ceremony at the Veterans Garden on the south side of the Agriculture Horticulture Building. It is followed at 10 AM with an opening ceremony flag-raising program at the Leinie Lodge Bandshell and a flyover by WWII-era T6 and B25 aircraft.

The Amateur Talent Contest showcases Minnesotaʼs top talent. During the first 10 days of the fair, semifinals will be held at 6 PM nightly at the Leinie Lodge Bandshell. Winners from semifinals will compete in the finals at 7:30 PM Sunday, September 4th, at the Grandstand.

Ticketed Attractions

Minnesota State Fair

In addition to dozens of rides and games at the Mighty Midway and Kidway, there are more than 10 different ticketed attractions for fair guests to enjoy including: Space Tower, Ye Old Mill, Go Karts, Haunted House, River Raft Ride, SkyGlider and Skyride, among others. Charlie Chopper, a new Kidway ride, is set to make its debut airlifting pint-size pilots skyward for a birds-eye view of the fairgrounds.

Discounts & Special Deal Days

Pre-fair discount admission tickets, ride & game tickets and Blue Ribbon Bargain Books are available through Wednesday, August 24th, at the State Fairgrounds Ticket Office and many locations in greater Minnesota (while supplies last).

The State Fair offers special admission discounts on six of its 12 days with Thrifty Thursday, Seniors & Kids Days, Military Appreciation Day and Read & Ride Day. Many vendors throughout the fairgrounds offer special savings on these deal days.

All-day or Early Bird specials are offered each weekday on Mighty Midway and Kidway rides & games.

Minnesota State Fair

The 2016 Blue Ribbon Bargain Book offers 150 coupons with huge savings on food, merchandise and attractions. Bargain Books are available wherever pre-fair discount tickets are sold before the fair, and at State FairWear Gift Shops and Bargain Book & State Fair Poster Carts during the fair. Coupons are valid all 12 days.

Getting to the Get-Together

Free parking with free shuttle bus service to and from the fair is available from 8 AM to Midnight daily at 33 locations within a short distance of the fairgrounds.

State Fair Express Bus service is offered at 21 sites throughout the Twin Cities area. Round-trip Express Bus fare is $5 for persons five years and older; children age four and under ride free with a paid fare. Parking at each site is free.

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Metro Transit routes 960, 84, 3 and the A Line service the fairgrounds directly. Click HERE for more information on these regular Metro Transit routes. Guests planning to take the METRO Green Line to the fair should get off at the Snelling Avenue Station and take the A Line or Route #84 bus to the fairgrounds.

Three free secured bicycle parking areas are available on the fairgrounds and open from 6 AM to Midnight. Click HERE for more information on biking to the State Fair.

Parking in State Fairgrounds lots is $13 (cash only). Motorcycle parking is available for $7 in a secured lot on the south side of Como Avenue across from Gate #7.

Guest Services & Information

Minnesota State Fair

The Great Minnesota Get-Together offers many free services and amenities for guest convenience, including: free trolley rides on the north end of the fairgrounds; information booths stocked with free maps, daily schedules, specialty brochures, Deals, Drawings & Giveaways Guides and complimentary sunscreen; a free Wi-Fi hotspot at the West Grandstand Plaza and First Aid Stations located on the east and west ends of the fairgrounds.

Minnesota State Fair App

The free Minnesota State Fair App is the smartphone user’s official guide to navigating the Great Minnesota Get-Together. This special technology created just for Minnesota State Fair fans uses the popular Food Finder, Merch & More Search and Fun Finder tools to help guests locate their favorites. The app is available to download for free through iTunes or Google Play.

Have fun at the Fair and have a Pronto Pup for me! - Pete