MN State Fair kick-off sets new record

Sheletta Brundidge/MSR News Friendly faces at the Fair: (l-r) DeJonae Johnson, St. Paul; Detavius Frierson, Brooklyn Park; BreYana Turner, St Paul

Another year, another record-setting opening day at the Minnesota State Fair. A reported 133,326 Fair-goers from far and wide descended on the annual “Great Minnesota Get Together” Thursday as the 12 days of food, fun and fellowship began in St. Paul.

This year, attendees can look forward to more than 500 food choices, and some new attractions and exhibits. So, bring your Spanx and your walking shoes, because you’ll need both.

The highlights of this year’s fair are the updates to the North End Event Center. There is a new Angry Birds exhibit for the kids and a 12,000-square -foot art exhibit. Both are free with general admission.

Old attractions are always fan favorites and one of them makes history this year as the Giant Slide turns 50.

RELATED: Visit the State Fair for helpful health tips

We caught up with Ebose Okoruwa from Council Bluffs, Iowa chowing down on a turkey leg.

Sheletta Brundidge/MSR News First-time attendee Ebose Okoruwa with a turkey leg

Okoruwa, who is in his first year of residency at University of Minnesota Dental School, recently relocated to the Twin Cities.

It’s also his first year at the Minnesota State Fair and he says he’s excited to try all the new foods and meet more people from the area.

Everybody must have been craving turkey legs on opening day because Al Hodges from St. Paul was enjoying his too much to talk.

But he found the time to tell us that he enjoys the excitement that the Fair brings to the area. Hodges says attending is an annual ritual; however, this is his first year coming on opening day.

Sheletta Brundidge/MSR News Al Hodges of St. Paul, another fan of the turkey leg

If you’re coming to St. Paul to meet your neighbors, have fun with your kids and get a bite (or two, or three, or four) to eat, come early and pack on the patience.

This year’s State Fair entertainment lineup offers more than 900 free shows with the price of admission, including hitmaking ’90s R&B band Tony! Toni! Toné! To see the complete lineup, click here

Of course, there are also some big-name concerts at the Grandstand, including Lionel Richie, Mavis Staples, and Hootie & The Blowfish. Those tickets are available for purchase through Etix at etix.com or call 800-514-3849. (Pro tip: Click here for your chance to win tickets to see Richie from the MSR).

With a good weather forecast for a majority of the Fair, organizers expect record crowds to generate increased traffic in and around the area.

Courtesy of You never know who you’ll run into at the Fair: Sheletta Brundidge with Tyrone Carter, a former Vikings, former Gopher, and NFL Superbowl champ

So be warned, if you’re coming, earlier is better. Parking is a premium as the day goes on and a few of the supplemental lots can run you as much as $40 per day.

But not to worry, Metro Transit runs shuttle buses throughout the day that service much of the Twin Cities and surrounding areas. You can find a list of schedules and prices here.

For more on all the Minnesota State Fair fun, including a nightly fireworks display and a salute to military veterans, visit mnstatefair.org.

About Sheletta Brundidge

Sheletta Brundidge is contributing writer at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder. She can be reached at shelettab@gmail.com. You can also catch her as co-host of the Two Haute Mamas podcast online at WCCO Radio. You can listen to the show on her website at twohautemamas.com.

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