In the 12 days leading up to Labor Day, the Great Minnesota Get-Together takes over the State Fairgrounds in St. Paul. Millions of people attend each year, tasting new foods, visiting the farm animals, attending concerts, and enjoying the last bits of summer before it’s officially back-to-school and into the autumn season.
The State Fair is a special event to me, I used to go religiously as a kid every year, all the way through college. Due to living abroad and traveling a lot since graduating from University, 2019 was my first year back in four years. I love how it both changes and doesn’t change at the same time – there are always new foods and beers to try, new attractions and updates to check out, while the overall vibes and feelings you get from a visit stay the same. I was happy to get to attend with my #1 food-loving friend, Nayda (aka @healthywholebeautiful).
So if you’re planning a trip to the Minnesota State Fair, come hungry, and get ready for the crowds.
Start the Day – Mini Donut Latte from Anchor
The Anchor Coffee House has a year-round shop in White Bear Lake, but they also show up to the fair to help caffeinate the fair-goers and keep them fueled throughout their long day of walking around and tasting new foods. This year they debuted a mini-donut latte, available iced or hot. We split a hot one first thing – it was sweet, creamy, and delicious. I wouldn’t get my own, and personally, I’m more of a black coffee drinker (could’ve used two extra shots of espresso in this guy) but it was still yummy and great to share.
Blue Barn has always knocked it out of the park since its first appearance at the fair. Located in the West End, the Blue Barn is where you can try delicious items like fried chicken in a waffle cone (smothered in a thick, savory gravy) breakfast potato skins, and lots of the new craft beers served at the fair. Don’t let the long lines scare you off – it moves quickly and is WELL worth it.
The Hangar – Mini Donut Flight
This is one I’d skip personally unless you’re splitting it with a bunch of people. It left a lot to be desired – I needed more sauce and just got tired of it after about 3 mini donut holes. It was yummy, but I didn’t need to finish it and I probably wouldn’t get it again. The lingonberry jam dip is super delicious though, I’d definitely buy a jar of that for toast!
This year I managed to try the Great Minnesota Handshake Beer – a collaboration between Indeed Brewing Company & The Freehouse. It’s a strawberry milkshake cream ale and was the perfect breakfast beer.
I also tried the Mango Star session IPA from Fulton, and the Crop Duster Lager.
This year was my first time trying one of these babies! We went with the s’mores waffle – filled with mini marshmallows, chocolate sauce, all wrapped up in a thin-pressed waffle. They had a ton of different choices, both sweet and savory. I’d definitely go here again to try a few more, but I loved the S’mores one we shared.
Brisket Grilled Cheese from RC’s BBQ
YUM! This thing was delicious. I didn’t get cheese curds this year, so the cheesy goodness in this barbecued sandwich made up for it. This place had a lot of other delicious-looking barbecue goodies, I will make it a priority stop for next year.
There are some treats at the fair that you just have to get year-after-year. The classics will always make my mouth water, thinking about them during the winter months and wishing it was fair time can be torturous! A few of my favorites that I always try to get when visiting the State Fair include..,
Pickles covered in cream cheese, deep-fried, and then set to dip in ranch? I literally dream about these things. For the cream cheese version, you’ve got to be sure to order the “Gourmet” pickle.
Sweet Martha’s Cookies
Another classic that I didn’t end up getting this year. It’s the best-selling item at the Minnesota State Fair and something that you’ve GOT to try if you’ve never been.
While many people opt for the full bucket to take home, I think these cookies are really only good if eaten fresh. Even the small “cone” version is still a TON of cookies – perfect for sharing. They really pile them high. Sweet Martha herself is quite the hustler – in 2017 it was reported she pulled in $4 million in the 12 days of the fair slanging cookies to hungry fairgoers.
That’s essentially a wrap on this year. Other things we ate but I didn’t write about include the alligator sausage from Bayou Bob’s and a giant dill pickle on a stick. The fair really is awesome, it’s a fun way to say goodbye to summer and get together with friends. It’s also a unique choice for out-of-towners to sample a taste (literally) of the midwest for the first time – and is a great activity for bachelor or bachelorette parties of people who have never been before.
Do you go to the Minnesota State Fair? What’s your favorite thing to eat?