Planning ahead can make the Minnesota State Fair a more enjoyable experience for people with disabilities and their family and friends. This year’s fair is August 25 to Labor Day, September 5.
Minnesota State Fair Accessibility Services offers many services for fairgoers with disabilities. Go to www.mnstatefair.org/general-info/accessibility-guide/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone number is 651-288-4448. The website provides much detailed information on Midway and Kidway rides, and other attractions.
A go-to spot for disabled fairgoers is Care & Assistance, which provides a number of accessibility services. Care & Assistance is located at 1338 Dan Patch Ave., across from West End Market. Hours are 8 a.m.-11 p.m.
Before you arrive
The Minnesota State Fair’s security program includes walk-through metal detectors at all entry gates. Bags, purses, coolers and packages will be subject to search at each of the fair’s entrances. Prohibited items include weapons, fireworks, alcoholic beverages, drones and bikes/skateboards/skates/hover boards. Other items may be refused at the discretion of fair management or police.
Leave home any pocket knives, scissors or similar small items that could be viewed as potentially dangerous. Downsize what is carried as much as possible.
Along with bringing devices such as fidgets and noise-canceling headphones, medications, sunscreen, hats and other things needed for a typical day, fairgoers need to remember to bring some patience. Staffing issues everywhere are likely to affect the fair, transportation to and from the fair and fair attractions themselves.
Masks are not required but fairgoers are encouraged to have a mask handy. Fairgoers may wear them if they feel more comfortable doing so, especially inside building.
Monitor public health advisories as they may change. People need to be mindful of their symptoms. Anyone testing positive or presumptively positive within the 14 days of attending the fair should stay home. Anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or who has been in direct contact with or in the immediate vicinity of any person who is confirmed or suspected of being infected with COVID-19 should stay home.
Make sure phones, chairs and other devices are fully charged before arriving at the fairgrounds.
Change in hours
Fairgrounds hours and admission will change slightly, with admission starting at 7 a.m. and ending at 9 p.m. every day except Labor Day. On Labor Day the gates close at 7 p.m.
The fairgrounds will be open 7 a.m. and close at 11 p.m. every day except Labor Day. On the final day, the grounds close at 9 p.m.
Hours for specific buildings and services vary. Check https://www.mnstatefair.org/general-info/hours-of-operation/
Tickets for admission on the fairgrounds are for sale online. Check admission prices at https://www.mnstatefair.org/tickets/admission-tickets/ Information is also online for other tickets for fair attractions such as rides and concerts.
Service dogs are permitted on the fairgrounds. Service dogs are dogs that have been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
During the 12 days of the Minnesota State Fair, pets are not allowed on the fairgrounds, with the exception of service dogs or animals approved as part of an exhibition.
Getting to the fair
Plan ahead as accessible parking spaces at the fair fill up quickly early each day. The fair has parking spaces designated for vehicles with a valid disability certificate available on a first-come basis. The cost is $17. Check the fair website to learn more about how to reach this parking. https://www.mnstatefair.org/parking/vehicle/
A free park-ride lot with free wheelchair-accessible bus service is offered for people with disabilities and their companions. The lot, open to those with a disability certificate or license plate, is on the north side of the Oscar Johnson Arena at 1039 De Courcy Circle. It is south of the fairgrounds near Snelling Avenue and Energy Park Drive. Buses run continuously to the fair from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily (7 p.m. on Labor Day). Return trips from the fair to the parking lot are available 8 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. (9:30 p.m. on Labor Day).
Passengers are dropped off and picked up at the Loop Gate 9 on Como Avenue on the south end of the fairgrounds.
Not all buses at remote lots have lifts for passengers who use chairs and scooters, or who have mobility issues. As of Access Press deadline, the parking lot schedule hadn’t been announced. It will be posted at https://www.metrotransit.org/ or https://www.mnstatefair.org/transportation/metro-transit/
Keep in mind that lot locations may change year to year and may not be available every day during the fair.’
Taking Metro Mobility? This requires planning ahead. Metro Mobility drops off and picks up passengers at two locations on the fairgrounds: At the Loop Gate 9 on Como Avenue; and at the North Gate 2.
Rideshare services Uber and Lyft drop off and pick up passengers at two locations on the fairgrounds: At the east Como parking lot, south of Como Avenue and west of Snelling Avenue (guests enter at Gate 7); and at the North Gate 2.
Taxis drop off and pick up passengers at the Loop Gate 9 on Como Avenue.
HomeTown Mobility rents wheelchairs and electric scooters from five sites within the main entrance gates to the State Fairgrounds. Advance rental reservations accepted before the fair by contacting HomeTown Mobility directly. Reserving in advance as mobility devices can be spoken for quickly. For pricing and contact information, go to https://www.mnstatefair.org/general-info/accessibility-guide/
Bariatric chairs and seating are designed to be wider than the standard waiting room or medical office chair, and capable of supporting up to 500 pounds of evenly distributed weight. Such chairs are built to provide increased postural support and comfort to patients with a bariatric condition.
Bariatric chairs may be available upon request with at least 24 hours’ advance notice at some seating areas throughout the fairgrounds (including the Grandstand), based on availability. To inquire about bariatric seating, contact email@example.com or 651-288-4448.
Large-print daily schedules and fairgrounds maps are available at any information booth.
New open captioning and more
What’s new in 2022 for people with disabilities? Open captioning is offered for guests who are deaf or have difficulty hearing, at select free performances. No reservations are required. A monitor displaying the captioning will be positioned near the stage.
The History On-A-Schtick shows are presented by the Minnesota Historical Society. Shows are located at the Schell’s Stage, Schilling Amphitheater. Captioned shows are 10 a.m., Saturday, August 27; Sunday, August 28; Wednesday, August 31 and Thursday, September 1.
Here is an overview of other accommodations at attractions:
Audio description services are offered for guests who are blind or have low vision will be offered at these free shows, no reservations required. Headsets for audio description can be picked up from the audio describer, who will be located near the stage prior to the show.
The History On-A-Schtick shows with audio description are 11 a.m. Saturday, August 27; Sunday, August 28; Wednesday, August 31 and Thursday, September 1.
The Timberworks Lumberjack Show at The North Woods stage offer audio description at 2 p.m. Saturday, August 27; Sunday, August 28; Wednesday, August 31 and Thursday, September 1
Looking for time to sit with children and relax? Remember to check out Braille books at Alphabet Forest. Alphabet Forest is an oasis of fun games and activities to inspire young readers to build vocabulary, learn about letters and explore the wonderful world of reading and writing. The on-site library includes several children’s books in Braille.
ASL interpreting services
The fair offers daily American Sign Language (ASL) interpreting services provided by teams of certified, novice and student interpreters.
Interpreters are scheduled between the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. August 25 – September 5. Special requests for interpreter services will be scheduled depending on availability and should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org, 651-288-4448 or the Guest Relations office at Visitors Plaza.
ASL interpretation is offered daily at six free scheduled shows throughout the fairgrounds. Performances and demonstrations are subject to change:
Milking Demonstration, located at the Moo Booth stage outside the Cattle Barn. 10 a.m. daily. https://www.mnstatefair.org/location/moo-booth/
Fish Pond Talk, located at the DNR Fish Pond. 10:45 a.m. daily. https://www.mnstatefair.org/location/dnr-building-and-park/
Timberworks Lumberjack Show, located at The North Woods stage. Noon daily. https://www.mnstatefair.org/schedule/timberworks-lumberjack-show/
Thank A Farmer Magic Show, located at the Christensen Farms Stage. 1 p.m. daily. https://www.mnstatefair.org/booths-and-showcases/thank-a-farmer-magic-show/
Harvesting Honey, located in the Agriculture Horticulture Building. 2 p.m. daily. https://www.mnstatefair.org/location/agriculture-horticulture-building/
Renewing the Countryside Cooking Demonstration, with different topics daily, located at the Sustainability Stage in Eco Experience. 3 p.m. daily. https://www.mnstatefair.org/location/eco-experience/
ASL interpretation will also be provided for select programs Monday, August 29 during Mental Health Awareness programs at Dan Patch Park, and Monday, September 5 at Hmong Minnesota Day at Dan Patch Park
ASL interpreting is also available for concerts at the Grandstand and Leinie Lodge Bandshell upon request. Requests should be made at least 14 days prior to the concert. (A separate concert ticket is required for Grandstand shows; shows at the Leinie Lodge Bandshell are included in fair admission.) Contact email@example.com or 651-288-4448 to request ASL interpreting.
Take a sensory break
For visitors with sensory processing disabilities, the fair can be too much at times. One welcomed new feature is the Fraser Sensory building, which is in its second year. It is specially created for fair guests of all ages with sensory-processing challenges who be overwhelmed. It is located on the west side of Cosgrove Street, south of the Home Improvement Building. It is open daily 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., closing at 8 p.m. on Labor Day)
The sensory space is staffed by Fraser-trained sensory support volunteers, who can help individuals regulate with tools and techniques such as weighted blankets and shoulder wraps, calming music, floor cushions, an exercise ball and fidget toys. People with sensory difficulties are welcome to use the space to regulate.
The Fraser Sensory Building will also feature games, giveaways, educational resources, special guests and information about employment opportunities.
Tips for visiting the fair with sensory sensitivities – including when to visit, things to do, what to bring and a social narrative – can be found in the Accessibility Guide on the State Fair website at https://www.mnstatefair.org/general-info/accessibility-guide/.
Minnesota Council on Disability booth
Several disability service organizations have their own booths, many in the Education Building. The Minnesota Council on Disability will have one of the larger booths there. Many organizations partner with the council at the booth and provide free information on disability groups and services.
A schedule will be posted, of when fairgoers can meet representatives from partner disability organizations, state commissioners, elected officials, guest entertainment and an accommodations schedule. Contact the council about accommodations to visit the booth at www.disability.state.mn.us/