There are state fairs and county fairs but there is nothing quite like the Minnesota State Fair. Hundreds of thousands of people flock to St. Paul for two glorious weeks in the summer. It is the perfect period to put on the end of the wonderful thing we call a Minnesota summer. This year, we had amazing weather and I think the all time attendance record was broken! Some of my readers are probably native to this great state but hopefully you enjoy this little guide too. If you’re not local and are thinking of attending in the future, I hope this guide will help!
First, I’m going to tackle everyone’s favorite thing about the fair… the food!
Everyone goes to the fair with one purpose… to eat as much as they can. Well, maybe not everyone but you get what I’m saying. Make sure you go with friends who you like spending time with and who share similar food tastes to you! You’ll never be able to tackle this list alone… Here are some food and drink items that my friends and I thought were worth the bloated stomachs and inevitable heartburn (in no particular order of deliciousness).
- Carpe Diem: Waffle in the shape of a fish+ice cream +strawberry balsamic drizzle=winning
- Sweet Martha’s cookies: split a cone with one friend and you will have the perfect amount of cookies before they get cold. You may be tempted to get the bucket and “save them for later.” Trust me when I say, the magic wears off once you leave the fair. AKA they are not good the next day; even if you reheat them.
- Cheese curds: fair staple and all around deep fried gloriousness. Go to the “original” cheese curds with the mouse on the front (near the corn roast). These are the best. Trust me.
- Roasted corn: They roast the corn in the husk, shuck it and then dip in a vat of butter. Enough said.
- Strawberry Donut Delight: A krispy kreme-esque donut cut in half and filled with strawberries and whipped cream? I only wish I wasn’t so full so I could have eaten more of it.
- A Cracker Jack caramel sundae: I didn’t eat this myself but since my friend, Andrea, didn’t share even one bite… it had to be awesome.
- Cheesy French onion monkey bread: If you like any of the things listed in the title of this, you’ll love it. Warm bread, gooey cheese and soft onions. Eat this fast because it did get soggy.
- Pronto pup: You can only get these at the fair and yes they taste different than a corn dog. Get the smaller size unless you’re not going to eat anything else at the fair. There are a bunch of stands scattered throughout the fair so if there is a line, just walk a bit further and you’ll find another!
- Bang Bang Fresh Chicken Tenders: the dipping sauce really makes these stand out. I am a big fan of chicken tenders and these were mostly meat (not overdone on breading) and quite tasty.
- Apples and apple cider: you can try some U of M variety apples inside the agriculture building. They seemed kind of expensive this year so I decided to go for a bottle of apple cider. So tasty.
- Shake from the dairy barn: The smoothest ice cream you ever did see. This tastes kind of like a Frosty from Wendy’s but 10 times better
- French fries: I’m sure there are die hard fans that can argue both sides but I think the best fries are over by the midway. Freshly made and perfectly salty.
- Grilled cheese bites at O’Gara’s: This tasted like a really delicious mozzerella stick. They weren’t my favorite food at the fair but they tasted good washed down with a Loon Juice 🙂 PS sorry for the terrible quality photo.
- Chicken in a waffle from the Blue Barn: This is one I also did not eat myself. According to Andrea and Alicia, the gravy was spicy but overall this was a tasty choice.
- Banana Cinnamon & Cream Dipped in Dark Chocolate at JonnyPops: This was a pretty tasty Popsicle. If you need a cool treat that isn’t too heavy, I would recommend this!
- Cherry rhubarb cider from Sweetland Orchards: found this over at the Ballpark brews booth and it was very tasty. I didn’t get too strong of a rhubarb flavor. It wasn’t overly sweet and you definitely got a bit of tart. Thumbs up!
Meh, save your money
Sometimes, the food doesn’t live up to the hype. Here are a couple things we tried that weren’t all that great.
- Juicy Lulu: I had this 2 years ago when it was new and loved it. They must have changed something because I wasn’t impressed this year. The first one I got had no cheese in it (I know, right?). They did give me a new one which was very nice but most of the cheese dripped out and it was too thick without it.
- BBQ shrimp taco at Tejas: my dad ate this and reports the slaw and the shrimp were good but the tortilla was soggy and not very flavorful. This is the only thing I didn’t take a picture of because it was that unappetizing looking. Of note, I don’t like seafood so that was probably part of my issue 🙂
- Candied bacon BLT: My dad also tried this as well. He was not impressed with the overall sandwich but reports the bacon itself was tasty.
- S’mores: These taste better when sitting around the campfire. I think my hangup was there were graham cracker layers in between the chocolate and marshmallow layer. Too much graham and not enough of the things we’re really eating s’mores for, am I right?
Well, that wraps up my food coverage of everything I loved (and stuff that wasn’t that great) at the fair this year. I hope a lot of these new foods stick around because almost everything I tried, I would like to have again! I hope this helps you plan your food for next year! BTW, I went to the fair 3 times this year so all this food was not consumed in one day by me or anyone I know.
Also, my friend Andrea also wrote a really great post about our food adventures at the fair so head to her post here for another opinion on the food we ate. Follow my friends Alicia, Andrea and Rachel on Instagram for more of their lovely pictures of our adventures at the fair! They also post really amazing photos on the regular and are way cooler than me.