Taking your Kids to the Minnesota State Fair


This week we finally managed to scratch off a bucket list event – Taking our kids to the Minnesota State Fair.

The ten day long fair in August, nicknamed “The Great Minnesota Get-Together” is the largest US State Fair boasting  1,824.830 visitors this year!
The fairgrounds are midway between St Paul and Minneapolis and feature various livestock competitions, carnival rides and, of course, an unhealthy abundance of fried foods, mostly sticks for quick and easy snacking.


Taking your Kids with Autism to the Minnesota State Fair HORSES

Getting There

We chose to visit on opening day.
Tickets were slightly cheaper, it was a working weekday, and there was no rain in the forecast!
The Fair bus took us straight to the entrance of the fair from our hotel the Radisson Blu at the Mall of America.
Most locals pre-purchase their tickets, so we got ours quickly and headed immediately for our very first tasting – the fried pickle followed by a giant cream puff.

Taking your Kids with Autism to the Minnesota State Fair RIDES

The Rides

Our son wanted to check out the Mighty Midway thrill rides and skill games, but his visit to the Nickelodeon Universe theme the previous day tired him. out .He finally decided on riding the iconic SkyFlyer that carries riders across the fairgrounds, and the gyrating Space Tower that rotates and lifts one in the air. The long line deterred him from trying the fair’s oldest ride, Ye Old Mill, since, as we expected, there were no accommodations for autism offered.

The Food

We continued full speed towards the food court not before sampling what the stalls had to offer.
The grilled corn on the cob was ordinary while the Korean BBQ collar with kimchee pickles at Famous Dave’s turned out to be just ‘OK’.
We discovered the fried Twinkies were an acquired taste, and the fried green tomatoes and hush puppies were almost as good as the ones at Hudson’s in Hilton Head.

The food pavilion itself was the size of ten mall food courts put together with surprisingly almost no lines for anything.
Everything was well organized, and the multiple bathrooms were EXCEPTIONALLY clean.

We did wander about somewhat aimlessly unsure what to choose for our next tasting. One of the friendly locals (they were all so nice and helpful) pointed out that newbie visitors should come prepared with an action plan. We certainly didn’t have one since we weren’t sure how our son with autism would react to all the smells and sounds of it all, and how much time we’d  even spend there.

Taking your Kids with Autism to the Minnesota State Fair FOOD

On our quest to find that ‘IT’  Fair food that we would remember forever; we proceeded to sample the lobster mac and cheese (uninspired), the chocolate dessert pastrami ( boring), and Stromboli (salty!).None of us wanted to brave trying the famous Lutefisk some locals delight in! Our personal favorites were the fried chocolate filled dough and those cheese curds everyone recommended!


To appreciate Minnesota and the fascination with agriculture, we were told that one must see the displays and the tremendous year-long efforts of some people who present.We realized there were competitions for just about everything; best vegetable, best honey, and even best pies.

One of the older ladies we spoke to told me as I was photographing, “You haven’t lived until you’ve seen the President immortalized in seed!” and after seeing the exhibit, I tend to agree with her.

Taking your Kids with Autism to the Minnesota State Fair EXHIBITS

The Exhibits

As The West Coast city folks, we did pass by the different types of corn and feeds but we were much more fascinated by the bee colonies and the honey ice cream we were given a free sample of.
Who knew honey ice cream could be so delicious?

We were originally going to see the’ Princess Kay of the Milky Way’  but got sidetracked with the different foods.So.instead of seeing butter carvings of local beauty queens’ busts; we ended up at the barns ready to see the livestock.

Our son was able to tolerate the rabbit area reasonably well, but once we entered the sheep and pig pens, the stench overwhelmed him, so we had to leave.

Taking your Kids with Autism to the Minnesota State Fair LIVESTOCK


Unfortunately, the same thing happened when we reached the horses exhibit though I have to mention that for a stable housing so many majestic beasts, the stalls looked pretty orderly and clean.

We decided to try and check out the birthing pavilion if our son could tolerate the smells.
We managed to see a newborn lamb, a pregnant cow and witness a litter of piglets being born. Out of all the Fair exhibits, we all agreed this was the most noteworthy.

Tired by the time we finished, seeing the live birth, we headed back to our hotel but not before stopping one last time at Tom Thumb mini donuts and Sweet Martha’s chocolate chip cookies to buy a box for later. Seems like even though we might not have found a particular food item to wow us all; we still found a few to call favorites.

Taking your Kids with Autism to the Minnesota State Fair ANIMALS

Autism Travel Tips

  • Choose weekdays as they are less crowded
  • Plan a checklist to avoid being overwhelmed
  • Find quiet and calm areas, benches, and rockers behind the buildings
  • It’s cheaper to bring your own water.
  • Bring a very necessary package of Tums and a fan.
  • Wear comfortable closed shoes as you step in animal feces and can be stepped on by other visitors
  • Download the State Fair App on your cell phone to help you navigate the fairgrounds using GPS coordinates in real time.
  • Try to negotiate a reasonable budget with your child for food and rides
    so they know ahead of time what to expect. Fairs are notoriously expensive.
Center map

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