Attending the Minnesota State Fair takes planning for people with disabilities. This year’s fair, August 22 – September 2, offers plenty of accommodations ranging from accessible shuttle buses, wheelchair charging stations to scooter rentals. Make plans now to make the most out of a fair visit.
Brienna Schuette, Fair Marketing and Communications Manager, said one good tip is to buy fair tickets in advance. “That saves you time and waiting at the gate.” Tickets are on sale until August 21. Locations can be found at http://tinyurl.com/mn-fair-tic
Veteran fair attendees offer other tips. Bring bottled water, any medications, devices that will be needed and plenty of money to last during the day. For service animals, bring food, water, clean-up bags and whatever else is needed. Don’t over-pack but if there are specific foods or items of clothing needed, bring those along. Also, be prepared to have bags checked at the gate.
Be prepared for long lines. If lines are a problem, plan on attending early in the day and on weekdays. Some days, such as senior day, can get very crowded. Remember that being in a wheelchair or on a scooter means being at a lower level than everyone else. Getting through a crowd with a cane can also be a challenge. Crowds can be daunting, so keep that in mind.
After arriving at the fairgrounds, guests can find 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.
A mobility company 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 Street 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. It’s best to reserve in advance. 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 accepted, with fees ranging from $15 per day for a wheelchair to $55 for an all-day electric scooter rental. Reservations are accepted for all-day wheelchair and electric scooter rentals. Call 877-928-5388 at least 24 hours in advance or visit www.hometownmobilityia.com
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. Power wheelchairs and electric scooters can be recharged here; outlets are available on the south wall of the Grandstand building.
Two events with interpretation are offered daily. Timberworks Lumberjack Show is every day at 11 a.m., at the North Woods exhibit on Cooper Street between Randall and Lee avenues. Enjoy Sean Emery’s performance at 12:30 p.m. daily 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.
One must-stop is the Education Building and the Minnesota State Council on Disabilities (MnSCOD) booth. Access Press will be one of the organizations represented there. Stop and visit the state council, ask questions and pick up lots of free information from a variety of groups.
Be aware of accommodations for people who drive or park in remote lots. Parking spaces for vehicles with a valid disability parking identification are located in many State Fair lots. 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). Also, 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 the wheelchair and scooter rentals.
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.
Taking the bus? Metro Transit buses typically have lifts but only a few of the fair’s remote park and ride lots offer accessible buses so plan ahead. There are limited wheelchair accessible buses operating from
Roseville Area High School, the former Nova Classical Academy on Montreal Avenue in St. Paul and the University of Minnesota Minneapolis campus daily. St. Rose of Lima (Monday–Friday), Gloria Dei Lutheran and Grace Church (daily and 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. General fair information is available by calling 651-288-4400 or going to www.mnstatefair.org or check out http://tinyurl.com/disfairaccess for more 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 [email protected].