Accessibility options make State Fair fun for everyone

Plan now to attend the 2012 Minnesota State Fair, Aug. 23 through Sept. 3. Plenty of options are available for […]

Plan now to attend the 2012 Minnesota State Fair, Aug. 23 through Sept. 3. Plenty of options are available for people with disabilities, from getting to and from the fair, to getting around the grounds and enjoying exhibits and entertainment.

Check out www.mnstatefair.org/general_infoaccessibility.html  for useful information. The web page includes a downloadable accessibility guide on the right hand side of the page. Anyone with questions can also call 651-288-4448 or e-mail accessibility@mnstatefair.org

General fair information is available by calling 651-288-4400 or going to www.mnstatefair.org

Photo by Debra Fischer Goldstein and Beyond the Stick

Crutches could not slow this woman down as she toured the Minnesota State Fairgrounds on a rental scooter.

Before making travel plans, explore the various options. Driving to the fairgrounds? Parking spaces for vehicles with a valid disability parking identification are located in many State Fair lots. Cost is $12 or a pre-fair discount admission ticket ($9). Vehicles with trailers will be charged $24 or two pre-fair discount tickets ($18). Access to fairgrounds parking is available through Gate One off Larpenteur Avenue at Underwood Street, Gate Three off Snelling Avenue at Hoyt Avenue and Gate #15 off Cleveland Avenue at Commonwealth Avenue (University of Minnesota St. Paul Campus). Additional accessible parking is available south of Como Avenue. Check www.mnstatefair.org  for more information.

The passenger drop-off area is the Como Loop Gate Nine, which is closest to Hometown Mobility, an independent concession that provides manual wheelchairs, electric scooters, strollers and wagons for rent There is a free park and ride lot with free wheelchair-accessible bus service for people with disabilities and their companions. The lot is located on the north side of the Oscar Johnson Arena, 1039 De Courcy Circle, south of the fairgrounds. Exit from Snelling Avenue at Energy Park Drive; travel east to the first left past Snelling, to the north side of the arena. Visitors are dropped at the Como Loop Gate Nine. Buses run continuously, approximately every 20 minutes, from 8 a.m. to midnight daily.

Be aware that not all park and ride lots offer accessible buses. There are limited wheelchair accessible buses operating from Roseville Area High School, Nova Classical Academy in St. Paul and the University of Minnesota Minneapolis campus daily. St. Rose of Lima (Monday–Friday), Gloria Dei Lutheran and Grace Church (daily & Sundays after 1 p.m.) also offer limited accessible bus services. The daily schedule is posted on the state fair website. Metro Transit does have a number of wheelchair-accessible regular route buses that pass the state fairgrounds. Call 612-373-3333, or 612-341-0140 (TTY) or go to www.metrotransit.org  for more information.

After arriving at the fairgrounds, there are many services available for people with disabilities. These include wheelchair/stroller/wagon/electric scooter rentals, parking on the fairgrounds, assistive listening devices, wheelchair battery recharging, sign language interpreters, accessible seating at all entertainment venues, and curb cuts throughout the fairgrounds.

Hometown Mobility rents manual wheelchairs, electric scooters, strollers and wagons at four locations on the fairgrounds. These are the north side of Como Avenue inside the Loop Gate Nine; the west side of Cosgrove St. between Wright and Dan Patch avenues inside Gate Five; the northwest corner of Cooper Street and Service Drive and on the north side of Liggett Street by the west Skyride Tower.

If rented onsite, all equipment is available on a first-come basis with no guarantee of availability. Hours are 7 a.m. – 11 p.m. daily. The deposit of a driver’s license or state ID is required. Cash, check, credit cards and debit cards are acceptable forms of payment with fees ranging from $15 per day for a wheelchair to $55 for an all-day electric scooter rental. Reservations will be accepted for all-day wheelchair and electric scooter rentals. Call 877-928-5388 at least 24 hours in advance.

Resources for fairgoers with disabilities can also be found at the Care and Assistance Center, located across from Heritage Square on Dan Patch Avenue. Hours are 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Wheelchairs can be recharged here. Outlets to plug in electric scooters are on the south wall of the Grandstand building.

Photo courtesy of Minnesota State Fair

This woman’s wheelchair became Minnesota State Fair transport for two little riders. The fair has many accessibility options.

Events with daily interpretation area are offered daily. These are the Timberworks Lumberjack Show, 11 a.m., North Woods exhibit on Cooper Street between Randall and Lee avenues; and Sean Emery, 12:30 p.m. on the Family Fair Stage in Baldwin Park. During the fair ASL interpreters will be available to assist guests from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily. Inquire about this free service at the Administration building located on Cosgrove Street. Special requests for interpreter services will be scheduled depending on availability. Call 651-288-4448.

Anyone needing an assistive listening device can use one during Grandstand events. Receivers and headsets are available from the guest services office in Visitors Plaza. A valid driver’s license or state ID and a credit card are required for deposit. For any other accommodation questions about Grandstand events, call 651-288-4427.

Visiting the Midway? A free Attraction Access Guide to assist guests in making choices about which rides are appropriate and accessible can be found at all ticket outlets on the Mighty Midway and Kidway.

Access Press will be one of the organizations represented at the Minnesota State Council on Disabilities booth in the Education Building. Stop and visit the state council, and pick up free information. Other groups will also be represented there and will have information available.

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