What began in 1854 as a territorial fair to highlight agriculture and encourage farming in the region became the Minnesota State Fair in 1859, a year after Minnesota was granted statehood. Learn more about the State Fair’s rich history.
Today, often referred to as the “Great Minnesota Get-Together,” the annual Minnesota State Fair is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the region. The fair attracts nearly 2 million guests annually. See attendance figures.
This end-of-summer tradition is always held the 12 days leading up to and through Labor Day. The 2018 Minnesota State Fair runs Aug. 23 – Sept. 3.
The fair employs nearly 80 year-round full-time staff members. During the summer, about 400 seasonal staff are added. More than 3,000 people are hired as fair-time staff members. Learn more about fair-time employment.
Located mid-way between Minneapolis and St. Paul, the 320-acre Minnesota State Fairgrounds is renowned for its beautiful gardens and architecture reflecting the art deco and Works Progress Administration eras.
Hundreds of events are held on the fairgrounds throughout the year during the non-fair time, including horse and livestock competitions, merchandise sales, expositions, car shows and more. View a calendar of events.
The Minnesota State Fair is a recipient of a 2013-14 BBB Torch Award for Ethics. The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota presents the award annually to companies that display exemplary levels of ethics, customer service and integrity in all aspects of their operations.
The Minnesota State Fair is a quasi-state agency that is completely self-supporting. The fair has not received any public money or government appropriations of any kind since 1949.
The fair is governed by the Minnesota State Agricultural Society. Society delegates represent all 87 county fairs in Minnesota, along with a few dozen statewide agricultural groups. A 10-member volunteer board of managers is elected annually from the delegates to set policy and provide oversight for the fair. Nine members represent the society’s nine regional districts, and the tenth (the president) serves at large. The executive vice president serves as the fair’s general manager.
The society finances the annual production of the fair and is responsible for all capital work and maintenance of the fairgrounds, classified as state property. The fair’s income comes from ticket sales, licensing of commercial exhibit space, the rental of fair facilities for non-fair events, and other areas. Expenses include extensive services for fair guests such as Park & Ride buses, sanitation, police protection, and free stage entertainment, as well as fairgrounds plant operations and administration.
In addition, in a typical year, the society will invest $6 million to $7 million in fairgrounds improvement and maintenance. The state invests nothing.
Despite the fair’s long and successful history, there is a need for new funds to improve aging facilities and provide educational programming while retaining traditions. In 2002, community leaders established the Minnesota State Fair Foundation 501(c)(3) as the nonprofit fundraising entity with the mission to preserve and improve the Minnesota State Fairgrounds and support State Fair agricultural, scientific and educational programs.