Plan ahead for accommodations at the state fair

The 2023 Minnesota State Fair is August 24 through September 4. People with disabilities of all types can enjoy the fair […]

Fair mascots welcoming a guest in a wheelchair.

The 2023 Minnesota State Fair is August 24 through September 4. People with disabilities of all types can enjoy the fair if they plan ahead. Lots of good information on accessibility can be found in the Accessibility Guide on the state fair’s website at www.mnstatefair.org/general-info/accessibility-guide It contains everything from sensory-friendly features to wheelchair rentals. Stop at an information booth for large print maps and daily schedules, which are available upon request.  

One welcome addition is a universally designed changing restroom with hoist by Momentum Refresh. Momentum Refresh is the nation’s first fully accessible, universally designed mobile restroom. By offering a safe and comfortable personal care space for those with mobility limitations and their caregivers, Momentum Refresh reduces barriers and promotes inclusivity, equity and understanding. 

Mother with her son in his wheelchair in the new bathrooms.

In addition to a toilet, this groundbreaking vehicle is equipped with a height-adjustable universal changing table, an overhead ceiling hoist to facilitate easier transfer from wheelchair to changing table or toilet, a height-adjustable sink, and enough room for an individual and caregiver. A team of trained professionals will be available to inform guests about the amenities and to maintain and clean the space. 

Check the guide to find this new feature. 

Getting to the fairgrounds

Several options are available. A free park-ride lot with free wheelchair-accessible bus service is offered  exclusively for people with disabilities and their companions. It is  open to those with a disability certificate or license plate, on the north side of the Oscar Johnson Arena, 1039 De Courcy Circle, south of the fairgrounds near Snelling Avenue and Energy Park Drive. Buses run continuously to the fair 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily (7 p.m. 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. Labor Day). 

Several park and ride lots are offered but many don’t have buses accessible for people who use wheelchairs or mobility devices. Regular route buses including the A Line are offered for a fare payment. Go to www.mnstatefair.org/transportation/metro-transit/ 
Metro Mobility drops off and picks up passengers at two locations, 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, east Como parking lot, south of Como Avenue and west of Snelling Avenue (enter at Gate #7); and at North Gate #2. 

Taxis drop off and pick up passengers at the Loop Gate #9 on Como Avenue. 
Driving? Parking is available on the fairgrounds in designated spaces, for motorists with a valid disability certificate. Spaces fill up quickly as they are offered first-come, first-served. Check the map for locations, www.mnstatefair.org/parking/vehicle/ 

Getting around the fair

HomeTown Mobility rents wheelchairs and electric scooters from five sites within the main entrance gates to the fairgrounds. Advance rental reservations are now being accepted by contacting HomeTown Mobility directly. Go to www.mnstatefair.org/general-info/accessibility-guide/ 

Sensor-friendly offerings

Tips for guests 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 fair website at www.mnstatefair.org/general-info/accessibility-guide/#sensory 

For fair guests who would like to experience the fun of rides and games at Mighty Midway and Kidway with reduced light brightness and sound volume, go to the Kidway 9-11 a.m. Monday, August 28, and Mighty Midway at 10 a.m.-noon. Lights, sounds and non-safety-related announcements will be minimized. 

Please note that the sensory-friendly hours apply only to Mighty Midway and Kidway. There may be areas in other parts of the fairgrounds that contain loud music and lights during these hours. In the Mighty Midway and Kidway, some lights and sound may still occur, as not all attractions can completely eliminate all sound and light. 

The Fraser Sensory Building provides a take-a-break oasis specially created for fair guests of all ages with sensory-processing challenges who may find the sights, sounds, smells and crowds of the fair overwhelming. The space will be 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. It is located on the west side of Cosgrove Street, south of the Home Improvement Building, and is open daily 9 a.m.-9 p.m., closing at 8 p.m. on Labor Day. 

Accommodations for select shows

Captioning for guests who are deaf or have difficulty hearing is offered at free events, with no reservations required. A monitor displaying the captioning will be positioned near the stage or in a designated seating area. 

MNHS Presents History On-A-Schtick, at Schell’s Stage at Schilling Amphitheater, is 10 a.m. Saturday, August 26; Sunday, August 27; Wednesday, August 30; and Thursday, August 31 

The Draft Horse Supreme Six Horse Hitch Classic Series Exhibition, at Lee & Rose Warner Coliseum. is 2 p.m., Monday, August 28.

The 4-H Llama-Alpaca Costume Competition, at Lee & Rose Warner Coliseum, is 6 p.m. Wednesday, August 30. 

Audio description for guests who are blind or have low vision is offered at these free shows, with 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. 

MNHS Presents History On-A-Schtick, at Schell’s Stage at Schilling Amphitheater, is 11 a.m. Saturday, August 26; Sunday, August 27; Wednesday, August 30; and Thursday, August 31  

Timberworks Lumberjack Show, at North Woods stage, is 3 p.m. Saturday, August 26; Sunday, August 27; and Thursday, August 31  

Theater Day at Dan Patch Park: Madagascar – A Musical Adventure JR, at Dan Patch Park, south of the Grandstand and west of the Grandstand ramp, 1 p.m. Wednesday, August 30 

ASL interpretation is offered at free shows each day, no reservations required, and on two special days: 

  • Fish Pond Talk, 9:45 a.m., the DNR Fish Pond, south of the DNR Building 
  • All-Star Stunt Dogs Splash, 11 a.m., North Woods Stage 
  • Timberworks Lumberjack Show, noon, North Woods Stage 
  • Harvesting Honey, 1 p.m., Agriculture Horticulture Building 
  • Milking Demonstration, 2 p.m., Moo Booth stage outside the Cattle Barn 
  • DIRT Demonstration (topics vary daily), 2 p.m., DIRT Demo Stage in the Agriculture Horticulture Building 
  • Thank A Farmer, 3 p.m., Christensen Farms Stage 
  • Last Chance Forever Bird Show, 4 p.m., Garden Stage on west side of DNR Building.(No show Wednesday, August 30) 
  • STEM Day at Dan Patch Park is Thursday, August 23, at 12:15 p.m. National Eagle Center; 1:15 p.m. ABC 6 News Weather Lab; 2:15 p.m. University of Minnesota Physics Force; 3:15 p.m. Concordia Science Academy. 
  • 4-H Llama-Alpaca Costume Competition. 6 p.m. Wednesday, August 30, Lee & Rose Warner Coliseum 

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. (Please note that a separate concert ticket is required for Grandstand shows; shows at the Leinie Lodge Bandshell are included in fair admission.)

Contact [email protected] or 651-288-4448 to request ASL interpreting. 

Visit disability service organizations

The Education Building is the place to find disability service organization and state agency information. 

The Minnesota Council on Disability will have its booth open. Lots of free disability community information will be available. Stop and learn about what the council does for Minnesotans. 

Also, stop and visit the National Alliance for the Mentally (NAMI) Minnesota booth. Learn about NAMI and how it helps Minnesotans who live with mental health issues.

Fair coverage was compiled by newspaper and Minnesota State Fair staff.

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