“Edutainment” Options to Experience at the MN State Fair


It was the summer of 1996.  The Gin Blossoms and Goo Goo Dolls were going to preform at the Minnesota State Fair Grandstand and I wasn’t going to miss it.  My friend Jenny and I scrounged up enough cash to pay for our tickets.  That night we made our way to sit up in the nosebleeds until we saw a friend up front and finagled our way closer to center stage. It. Was. Awesome. Sadly, that was the last time I went to the state fair.  You see, I’ve spent most of my married life as a football coach’s wife and the start of the great Minnesota get together also marks the start of the state high school football season.  However, this year circumstances have changed.  It will be my husbands first time to enter the majestic gates of the Minnesota State Fair and the first time I’ve attended while trying to keep an eye on our kiddos.  Our mission, to have a fun-filled family day. Let the planning begin! A great resource to use is the Fun Finder.

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Download the Minnesota State Fair app for an on the go Fun Finder.  The app is available even without wi-fi access.

Family-friendly “edutainment”

Who doesn’t love some good entertainment? No, I’m not talking about the people watching, although that is very entertaining and doesn’t cost a penny. The fair is a place to see fun, hip and happening shows.  During the 12-day stint there are 900 shows featuring 100 plus artists.  I recently had the opportunity to hear from the entertainment insiders at the fair and heard they’re already booking artists/musicians for 2018.  Talk about planning!  One word that resonated most regarding entertainment options to keep the kids engaged was edutainment. Edutainment–learn something without realizing you’re learning something.  Brilliant! So what are some family-friendly edutainment options?  History On-A-Schtick is considered a hidden gem at the fair West End Market and is sure to entertain and educate . Kids and grown-ups can explore math concepts at the fair by participating in Math-On-A-Stick. Or step inside the Alphabet Forest and discover alphabet activities for all ages. Both are located at Baldwin Park, which is located on the corner of Randall Avenue and Cosgrove Street.  Here you’ll find a variety of FREE family fun at the fair. It’s a little oasis covered with trees to cool you down on a hot summer day.  Other interactive activities to check out:

          Educational Scavenger-Type Hunts

  • Alphabet Game at Alphabet Forest (daily)
  • Be a Fine Arts Detective at Fine Arts Center (daily)
  • Moo Booth CSI (Cow Scene Investigation) at the Cattle Barn (daily)
  • Ag-Vestigator at Little Farm Hands (daily)
  • Be a Flower Detective at the Agriculture Horticulture Building (Aug. 28, 1-5 p.m.; Aug. 29, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.)

Remember the Fun Finder?  Use it to find all of the activities list above. Or check out the complete list here.

Cost-saving tips

  • Park free, ride free. Keep your trip hassle-free and utilize the free park and ride shuttles offered during the fair.  Check out times and locations here.
  • Save money. The Blue Ribbon Bargain Book is $5 but can save you big time. It features 150 coupons and are available for purchase at both Mankato Cub locations now through August 23 while supplies last. Be sure to check out the discounts on admission too.
  • Bring water, a snack {or three if you’re kids are like mine} or even a meal.  Backpacks, bags and coolers are permitted on the fairgrounds. No alcohol. 

As I read what I’ve written so far to try and bring this baby to a close, it is clear that we won’t be jamming out at a Grandstand performance as I did on my last trip to the fair.  However, it’s evident there are plenty of other wonderful options to keep my husband and I as well as our kids entertained on their inaugural trip to the great Minnesota get together. As long as memories are made and we maintain our sanity…I’d say that’s a success.