The end of summer means the Minnesota State Fair will soon open its gates for 2017. This year’s fair is August 24 through September 4 in Falcon Heights. The fair offers an accessibility guide to help with trip planning. Go to www.mnstatefair.org, click on the general information tab and then click on accessibility.
Print out the guide. Accessibility questions can be sent to [email protected], or call 651-288-4448. The fair’s main website offers information about admissions costs, special days and more.
One new accessibility feature for 2017 is in the Grandstand, where a new elevator has been installed in the structure’s west end. The east end elevator will remain, as will the large outdoor ramp. But a second elevator provides convenience for Grandstand vendors, shoppers and concert-goers who cannot climb stairs.
Grandstand show tickets for people with disabilities can be purchased through the fair’s ticket office or through Etix, for additional information, call 651-288-4427. Grandstand shows also offer assistive listening devices, free of charge.
Receivers and headsets are available at the guest services desk on the west side of the Grandstand Plaza. A valid driver’s license or state ID and a credit card are required for a deposit, which is refunded when the devices are returned.
All of the fair’s entertainment venues, including the Grandstand, have accessible seating. But it is available on a first-come basis. Plan to arrive early for shows and events.
American Sign Language (ASL) will again be offered at the fair. ASL interpreters will be available to assist guests needing an interpreter from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. Check at the Admin Too Building on Cosgrove Street.
Shows with ASL interpretation are offered daily. The West End Market’s Schell’s Stage History On-A-Schtick show is at 9:30 a.m. The All-Star Stunt Dog Splash at 11 a.m. at North Woods on Cooper Street between Randall and Lee avenues. See performer Sean Emery at 12:30 p.m. on the Family Fair Stage in Baldwin Park, Interpretation is also offered for the daily parade at 2 p.m. on the east side of the Family Fair Stage in Baldwin Park.
Visiting the Mighty Midway? An Attraction Access Guide is available to assist fairgoers in making choices about which rides are appropriate for them, at all ticket outlets on the Mighty Midway and Kidway.
Transportation and parking
Several options are available for fair visitors. A free park and ride lot with free wheelchair-accessible bus service is offered 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 east of the Merrill Corporation office building and go to the north side (rear side) of Oscar Johnson Arena. Passengers travel nonstop to the fairgrounds and are dropped off at the Como Loop Gate #9. Buses run continuously, from 8 a.m. to midnight daily.
Other park and ride lots have limited accessible bus availability. The majority of coaches at Roseville Area High School/Grace Church, St. Rose of Lima in Roseville and University of Minnesota Minneapolis campus are wheelchair-accessible.
Be aware that Sunday church services affect hours that church lots are available. Go to www.mnstatefair.org for details.
The A Line buses on Snelling Avenue are accessible, as are regular route buses 960, 84, 61 and 3. Metro Transit also offers State Fair Express Bus service, for a $5 round trip, with locations throughout the Twin Cities area. All express service is accessible. For regular route and fair express information call 612- 373-3333 or go to www.metrotransit.org
Driving to the fairgrounds?
Go to the fair website for information on accessible parking spaces, at Larpenteur Avenue at Underwood Street and Gate #2 off Snelling at Hoyt Avenue, and south of Como Avenue. Parking for people with disabilities is available on a first come, first served basis. Cost is $14. Vehicles with trailers are charged $28.
Getting around the fairgrounds
Wheelchair battery recharging is available at the Care and Assistance Center at 1883 Dan Patch Ave. Outlets to plug in scooters are also available on the south wall of the Grandstand Building. The center serves as headquarters for people of any age who have become lost or separated from their group. Infant care facilities are also available. Hours are 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Anyone needing to rent a wheelchair or electric scooter can be dropped off at the Como and Hoyt gates and go to Home-Town Mobility. The company is now accepting rental reservations online at htmia.com or by calling 1-877-928-5388 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday–Friday through Aug. 14, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily during the fair August 24 through September 4.
Reservations need to be made at least 24 hours in advance, and cancellations at least 48 hours in advance.
Reservations will only be accepted for full-day scooter and wheelchair rentals. Rental fees are $20 per day for wheelchairs and $60 per day or $40 per day for electric scooters. Reservations made via phone are subject to an additional $5 call-in reservation fee. A limited number of scooters and wheelchairs are held for walk-up customers on a first-come basis with no guarantee of availability. Wagons and strollers can also be rented.