Skip to content

Aug. 26 – Labor Day, Sept. 6, 2021

110 Days 21 Hours 45 Mins

Kickoff to Summer

It goes without saying (but we’ll say it anyway), we all crave a chance to gather with family and friends, catch up in 3D, hang out on a patio, tap our toes to live music, raise a glass to brighter days ahead, savor the food we’ve been missing for months, and stroll (not scroll) through specialty Minnesota merchants.

Kickoff to Summer at the Fair sponsored by Paddle North is all that and more – five days of food, brews, music, shopping and family fun at the beautiful and iconic State Fairgrounds – in May!

  • Thursday, May 27, 4-9 p.m.
  • Friday, May 28, 4-9 p.m.
  • Saturday, May 29, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Saturday, May 29, 4-9 p.m.
  • Sunday, May 30, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Sunday, May 30, 4-9 p.m.
  • Monday, May 31 (Memorial Day), 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Proceeds support the Minnesota State Fair. The cancellation of the 2020 fair has meant going without nearly all of our operating revenue for a year. Our fingers are crossed as we plan for the 2021 Great Minnesota Get-Back-Together!

Please note: Guests will be required to follow all COVID-19 safety guidelines and procedures in place at the time of the event. Based on current guidelines, face masks will be required except when eating or drinking. If you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, please do not attend the event.

Jump to a Section:


Tickets are $12.50 each (fees and tax included); children 4 and under are free with a child ticket. Each ticket is valid for a specific date and timeslot. You will choose your date and timeslot when you purchase tickets. Limit of 6 tickets per customer (including children). There is a limit of 10,000 tickets available for each timeslot, which follows current State of Minnesota event capacity guidance. Tickets will be sold through a lottery process, so all guests who register in advance have an opportunity to be randomly selected to purchase tickets. This event is rain or shine. Tickets are non-refundable.

How the lottery process works:

1. Lottery registration: REGISTRATION IS NOW CLOSED. All who register online by 11:59 p.m. Thursday, May 6, will be entered into a random drawing for the opportunity to purchase up to 6 tickets (including children). (No priority is given to those who register early.) Registering for the lottery does not guarantee an opportunity to purchase a ticket, and no payment is required at this time. You may register only once; duplicate registrations including name, address, email and phone numbers will be removed.

2. Notification email: At approximately 8 a.m. Monday, May 10, all lottery registrants will receive an email notifying them of their randomly assigned group designation: A, B, C or D. Group designations determine the date you may have the opportunity to purchase tickets.

  • Group A: May purchase starting at noon Monday, May 10
  • Group B: May purchase starting at noon Tuesday, May 11
  • Group C: May purchase starting at noon Wednesday, May 12
  • Group D: May purchase starting at noon Thursday, May 13

If you do not receive an email at 8 a.m., please check your spam/junk folder. This is the only notification you will receive with your group assignment, redemption code and ticket link, so keep this email handy, and mark your calendar with your access date.

3. What to do when your designated group gains access to ticket buying: Use the link and redemption code in the email you received Monday morning to access available dates and timeslots. You may purchase up to 6 tickets (including children). Dates/times will become more limited as more people purchase tickets, and there is no guarantee that tickets will be available for later groups. If you do not purchase your tickets by noon the following day your group is granted access, you may still buy available dates/times if any remain, but people from the next group will also have the opportunity to purchase. To buy tickets for more than one date/timeslot (up to the limit of 6 total tickets), complete a separate transaction for each date/timeslot.

4. Sold-out notification: All who register for the lottery will receive an email when the event sells out. This may occur before all groups have the ability to purchase tickets. If tickets still remain at noon on Friday, May 14, sales will be open to anyone.

Questions about your lottery registration: Contact the Minnesota State Fair Ticket Office at or 651-288-4467.

Is it safe to buy tickets from a source other than Etix?

Unfortunately, as with any event ticket, you run the risk that a ticket bought from an unauthorized third party will not be valid when we scan it at the entrance. If your ticket is not valid, you will not be permitted to enter.

Presale Opportunity

2021 Minnesota State Fair Foundation Friends of the Fair members at the Red Ribbon level ($100) and above who join before Wednesday, May 5, at noon, will have the opportunity to purchase tickets on Thursday, May 6, before the lottery process begins. Join online through the Minnesota State Fair Foundation or call 651-288-4325.

Without a fair in 2020, the State Fair needs the support of Friends of the Fair as we plan for 2021. When you donate and become a member, you help support the fair and get great benefits too (such as access to presale tickets for Kickoff to Summer at the Fair)!

Health & Safety

We are following the guidance of state and federal health officials to protect all who are attending and participating in Kickoff to Summer at the Fair. Here are the health and safety measures that will be in place during this event, as of May 6, 2021; these are subject to change. We hope this information will help you determine if you are comfortable with the experience being presented before choosing to attend.

  • Face masks are required for all guests, vendors and staff, and must be worn at all times unless eating or drinking.
  • Hand sanitizer stations will be provided throughout the event. Restrooms are also open for handwashing.
  • Routine sanitizing of all high-touch areas will be completed by State Fair staff.
  • Guests must maintain a 6’ distance from others at all times, including when waiting in line for food or the Giant Slide, listening to music, shopping, playing games or participating in other activities.
  • Attendance for this event is limited to 10,000 per timeslot, which follows current State of Minnesota capacity guidance for this type of event and the size of the area.
  • Each vendor must submit a COVID-19 preparedness plan for review as part of their license to participate. The Minnesota State Fair has also developed a preparedness plan for this event.
  • If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, please stay home. Temperature checks or proof of vaccine will not be required for event entry.
  • Bags, purses, coolers and packages will be subject to search at the entrance. Prohibited items include weapons, fireworks, alcoholic beverages, drones and bikes/skateboards/skates/hover boards. Outside food and drink (with the exception of sealed plastic water bottles) is not allowed. Other items may be refused at the discretion of State Fair management or security.

Kickoff Happenings

Food & Brews

Fair food faves and refreshing summer beers!

View Complete Menu

  • Al’s Subs & Malt Shop
  • Andy’s Grille
  • Ball Park Cafe
  • Bayou Bob’s
  • Big Fat Bacon
  • Blue Moon Dine-In Theater
  • Café Caribe
  • Coasters
  • Dino’s Gyros
  • El Sol Mexican Foods
  • Fresh French Fries
  • Hansen’s Foot Long Hot Dogs & Corn Dogs
  • Hildebrand Concessions
  • Mancini’s al Fresco
  • Minnesnowii Shave Ice
  • Mouth Trap Cheese Curds
  • The Perfect Pickle
  • Produce Exchange
  • Pronto Pups
  • Que Viet Concessions
  • Sweets & Treats
  • Sweet Martha’s Cookie Jar
  • Tiny Tim Donuts
  • West Indies Soul Food

Music & Entertainment

Spring into summer with live entertainment!

Family Fun Stage at DNR Park

Visitors Plaza Stage

DJ Entertainment at Dan Patch Park
Sponsored by Adagio Djay Entertainment

Andy’s Grille

  • Daily: Staff’s State Fair dance tradition
  • Saturday: Corey Rae White, morning timeslot; Madd Company – Bad Company Tribute Band, evening timeslot
  • Monday: Heartless – A Heart Tribute Band

Ball Park Cafe

  • Sports action on giant TVs

Café Caribe

  • Thursday-Saturday: Mark Joseph & The American Soul
  • Sunday: To be determined
  • Monday: To be determined


  • Thursday & Friday: The Soupbones
  • Saturday: The Soupbones, morning timeslot; Kevin’s Cousins, evening timeslot
  • Sunday: The Soupbones, morning timeslot; Music Junkbox, evening timeslot
  • Monday: XIII Arrows

Dino’s Gyros

  • Thursday: Nathan Santos & Ali Washington
  • Friday: Stripped Down
  • Saturday: Sam Kuusisto Band
  • Sunday: Daina’s Piano Party, morning timeslot; Stripped Down, evening timeslot
  • Monday: Grimm and Cruz

Mancini’s al Fresco

  • Thursday-Saturday: Rockin’ Woody
  • Sunday: Gary LaRue, morning timeslot; Rockin’ Woody, evening timeslot
  • Monday: Gary LaRue

Fun & Games, Mascots & Photo Ops

Giant Slide

A rare chance to ride the slide in May! Tickets are $2.50; cash only. The slide is open weather permitting; if it rains, the slide will reopen when it dries.

Family Fun Zone at DNR Park

Challenge your family and friends to a board game! Stop by the north side of the DNR Building to check out some favorite classics.

For the young ones, we’ll have a selection of games – Giant Connect 4, Giant Jenga and Cookie Monster Cookie Toss – to check out on the south side of the DNR Building. Plus, watch for the Kids Wagon cruising throughout the Family Fun Zone with sidewalk chalk, jacks, coloring sheets and crayons.

If you’d like to bring your own board games to play while you’re at the event, please do!

High-Five Fairborne & Fairchild

Socially distanced, of course! Watch for our beloved furry State Fair mascots – they’re done hibernating and ready to help us spring into summer!

State Fair Trivia

Test your knowledge of State Fair fun facts and win fair tickets! Look for the QR code on the event program and on signs at the fairgrounds. Then, scan and play. One winner will be chosen each timeslot from those who play.

Photo Ops

Snap a Kickoff to Summer at the Fair selfie at the #OnlyInMinnesota stop, sponsored by Explore Minnesota, at the Spirit of Minnesota Tribute Bell and at Snoopy sculptures and other spots throughout the event.

Win Door Prizes!
Sponsored by Minnesota Rusco

Winners from each timeslot will be randomly drawn from all who purchased Kickoff to Summer at the Fair tickets through Etix and opted in to enter. Winners of fabulous prizes will be notified the week of June 1!

Specialty Shopping

Unique finds from artisans and merchants!

View Merchandise Offerings

  • Angry Minnow Vintage and Crowned Crow
  • Crystal Visions
  • Gentleman Forager
  • GoodThings
  • Hagen and Oats
  • Minnesota Rusco
  • Paddle North
  • Paul’s Porch Pots
  • Sota Clothing
  • Star Tribune
  • State FairWear and Gold Country
  • Whatnot Boutique

Memorial Day Commemoration

On Monday, May 31, we will honor those who died while serving our country in the U.S. military.

  • Flag raising at the West End Gate Plaza: 10 a.m.
  • 34th Red Bull Infantry Division Band performs throughout the day at the Family Fun Stage at DNR Park
  • Playing of “Taps” and National Moment of Remembrance at the West End Gate Plaza: 3 p.m.

Check back for updates. When it’s available, view downloadable program and map here, or pick up a copy at the event information booth. Event program sponsored by Humana.

Food, beverages, merchandise and Giant Slide rides are an additional cost.

Join in the Minnesota State Fair Community Gives Together

Please consider bringing a donation for three local nonprofits serving veterans and young people who are accessing services to achieve supportive and sustainable housing.

  • *New men’s boxers, briefs, undershirts and sweatpants
  • *New women’s underwear, sports bras, leggings and sweatpants
  • *New men’s and women’s sweatshirts
  • *New bath towels and washcloths
  • Full-size shampoo, conditioner, body wash, deodorant
  • Full-size toothpaste and toothbrushes
  • Toilet paper and paper towels
  • Full-size liquid dish soap and laundry detergent
  • Disinfecting wipes

* Most-needed

Items will support Every Third Saturday serving veterans, Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans and YouthLink. Each organization also is accepting monetary donations online. Thank you!

Learn more about the Community Gives Together.

Know Before You Go

  • Your timeslot: Check your ticket and arrive on the day and anytime during the timeslot you purchased. All guests must leave the event at the end of their timeslot. In order to follow state guidance on event capacity, only those with tickets for the designated timeslot will be admitted during that time.
  • Entrance: The ONLY public entrance is located at Snelling and Hoyt avenues, north of the water tower. Whether arriving by car, Uber or Lyft, taxi, bike, bus or on foot, all guests will need to make their way to Randall Avenue and the West End Gate to enter the event. Free parking! (See a map.)
  • Health & safety: Please keep in mind these health and safety measures when you attend this walk-around event: Face masks are required for all guests, vendors and staff. All are required to be seated when eating or drinking. Guests must maintain a 6’ distance from others at all times. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer frequently. If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, please stay home. Temperature checks or proof of vaccine will not be required for event entry. Bags and coolers will be subject to search at the entrance. Prohibited items include weapons, fireworks, drones and skateboards. Outside food and drink (with the exception of sealed plastic water bottles) is not allowed.
  • Rain or shine! In the case of inclement weather, please bring umbrellas, ponchos or other rain gear.
  • What to bring: Your ticket; face mask; hand sanitizer; board games if you’d like; cash and credit card if you plan to buy food or merch or ride the Giant Slide; and donation items for Community Gives Together collection. Plus, we’re pretty sure you’ll want to take home fair food to share or save for later, so bring an empty cooler, storage containers and maybe even some foil or plastic wrap!
  • Entertainment and happenings: The downloadable event program, sponsored by Humana, will be posted here shortly. Printed copies will also be available at the on-site information booth.
  • Pets: Fido and friends will need to stay at home. Service dogs that have been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability are permitted.
  • Designated smoking areas: For the comfort and safety of all, two designated smoking areas are available. Smoking (including the use of e-cigarettes and vape pens) is permitted only in these areas. See map here when it’s available.
  • Phone charging: Phone charging stations are available, sponsored by Device Pitstop. See map here when it’s available.
  • Cash or credit: For a list of which food vendors accept cash and/or credit, please see the menus. Merchandise vendors accept cash or credit. The Giant Slide accepts cash only. An ATM is available on-site. See map here when it’s available.
  • Lost & found: The on-site information booth will house lost & found during the event. Questions: 651-288-4555;
  • Souvenir drink bottles: Vendors are not able to refill State Fair souvenir drink bottles at this event.

Electric Mobility Scooters, Strollers, Wagons and Wheelchairs

HomeTown Mobility is accepting reservations for wheelchairs and electric mobility scooters. Reserve online (select “Kickoff to Summer at the Fair” from the list) or call HomeTown Mobility at 877-928-5388 Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Note: Reservations made by phone are subject to a $5 call-in fee.) Reservations must be made 24 hours in advance. Cancellation must be made 48 hours in advance to receive a refund, less a $5 cancellation fee per rental unit.


  • Electric mobility scooter: $60
  • Wheelchair: $25
  • Wagon or stroller: $17

If rented on-site, all equipment is available on a first-come basis with no guarantee of availability. At the Kickoff to Summer event, HomeTown Mobility will be located just inside the entrance gate. Cash or credit accepted. Battery recharging for personal scooters is not available at the HomeTown Mobility site.

All information subject to change.

Menu & Vendor Offerings

Jump to a Section:

Kickoff to Summer at the Fair
is proudly sponsored by

Paddle North
Adiago Djay Entertainment

Minnesota Rusco

explore minnesota logo

humana logo

humana logo