MINNESOTA STATE FAIRGROUNDS – Nearly $20 million in improvements and maintenance projects for the Minnesota State Fairgrounds were approved by the fair's board of managers during meetings Jan. 18-20. The meetings were part of the annual joint conventions of the Minnesota State Agricultural Society (governing body of the State Fair), Minnesota Federation of County Fairs and Midwest Showmen's Association at the DoubleTree Hotel in Bloomington. The board approved $16.3 million in capital work - $16 million of which is earmarked for a major new exhibit complex on the North End of the fairgrounds, as well as $3.4 million in maintenance projects.
During the meeting, State Fair General Manager Jerry Hammer previewed the North End development, which is currently under construction on the fairgrounds. The centerpiece of the State Fair's newest neighborhood is a major new exhibit facility with a 12,000-square-foot exhibit hall that will be the fair-time home to annually changing museum-quality exhibits. The North End will also have features that recognize Minnesota innovations in agriculture, industry and the arts, along with uniquely Minnesota attractions, food and commercial exhibits.
Improvements and maintenance projects approved for the coming year include: upgrades to the stalling and technology equipment in the Swine Barn, installation of a new overhead cover for the Exercise Ring in the livestock area, improvements to the restrooms in Lee & Rose Warner Coliseum, upgrades to the lighting and fire suppression system in the DNR Building, and dozens of paint, sewer, street and sidewalk and landscape projects throughout the 322-acre State Fairgrounds. All projects will be funded through State Fair operating revenue and grants from the Minnesota State Fair Foundation. The fair is financially self-supporting and receives no government aid of any kind.
The fair's board of managers also approved admission prices for the 2019 fair, Aug. 22 through Labor Day, Sept. 2. Regular gate admission for adults 13-64 will be $15; kids 5-12 and seniors 65+ will be admitted for $13; children 4 and under are always admitted free. Pre-fair discount admission tickets on sale through Aug. 21 for all ages will be $12. The admission fees represent a $1 increase in each category and will take effect Feb. 2. Admission prices were last adjusted two years ago. Pre-fair discount admission tickets are on sale at mnstatefair.org at the 2018 discount price of $11 for all ages through Feb. 1. Hammer cited rising costs in fair production, facilities upkeep, public safety, and other services such as the free Park & Ride system for the increase. “We work hard to provide the very best in agriculture, art, entertainment and guest services,” Hammer said.