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Minnesota State Fair Guide: Hours, Costs, a Handy App and More

Here's what you need to know to gear up for the Great Minnesota Get-Together.

Nearly two million people are expected to descend on the Minnesota State Fair’s 320-acre grounds starting Thursday and the following 11 days for concerts, contests, cows and corn dogs.

Here’s Minnetonka Patch’s rundown on what you need to know to get to the fair and find your way around:

Hours
Admission gates open daily at 6 a.m. Ticket sales end at 10 p.m. (9 p.m. on Labor Day). Grounds close at midnight (10 p.m. on Labor Day). Most buildings are open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Cost
Adults (13-64) pay $12, seniors and children 5 and older pay $10, and children younger than 5 are admitted for free. Promotional days are offered throughout the fair. Pre-fair discount admission is available for purchase through Aug. 22 at locations including Cub Minnetonka.

Transportation

The Minnesota State Fairgrounds are located at 1265 North Snelling Ave. N. in St. Paul. Maps and directions are available on the fair’s website. Note that light-rail construction on University Avenue will slow traffic flow; the fair’s website has tips on how to avoid the congestion.

Coming from Minnetonka: Take I-394 east toward Minneapolis. Take exit 8B onto I-94 east. Take exit 233C on left to merge onto I-35W north and continue onto MN-36 east. Merge onto to Snelling Avenue North. Turn right onto Dan Patch Avenue.

State fair parking lots cost $12 and can be accessed off Larpenteur, Snelling, or Cleveland avenues. Discount tickets can be purchased in advance through Aug. 22 at Cub Foods or the State Fair Box Office. (Motorcycle parking is offered for $6 on Como Avenue.)

Free parking is available at 34 locations around the fairgrounds. Complimentary buses leave every 20 minutes from 8 a.m. to midnight to pick up fair-goers. In 2011, the park and ride program gave more than 900,000 rides.

Free bike racks are offered at the Como-Snelling and Hoyt-Snelling gates and at Commonwealth-West Dan Patch from 6 a.m. to midnight daily.

Three buses service the fair and accept cash or transit passes. Route 960 goes from Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis to the fairgrounds in about 15 minutes. Route 84 travels along Snelling Avenue. Route 3 connects downtown Minneapolis to downtown St. Paul along Como Avenue.

State Fair Express buses operate from 17 Twin Cities locations on 15- and 30-minute loops. Check the fair’s express bus website for more information.

Navigating the fair
The state fair’s website has downloadable maps of the grounds and daily activity schedules.

The state fair is also smart phone accessible, with a mobile website and stand-alone apps for iPhones and Android phones that include a manipulable map and the ability to search listings of events, merchandise and food.

Swine Flu
Officials at the Minnesota State Fair will be watching the pigs more closely this year after two cases of swine flu were reported in the state. A fair spokesperson told CBS Minnesota that the animals will be checked when they get to the fairgrounds. There will be signs posted telling fair-goers what to do to avoid getting sick. Vendors will also be given up-to-date information about how to prevent the spread of the swine flu.

Day 1: Aug. 23

It’s Thrifty Thursday at the fair, with adult admission knocked down to $10 and children’s admission to $7. There's a technology theme today with SciMathMN bringing Minnesota STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) hands-on activities from more than 20 organizations. An opening ceremony will be held at that the Leinie Lodge Bandshell at 10 a.m. Bonnie Raitt plays at 7:30 p.m. at the grandstand with special guest Mavis Staples. Tickets are available for $34.50 and $44.50.Check out the fair's website for a schedule of the day's activities and events.

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