Minnesota State Fair expects further growth amid record attendance

Published 9:48 pm Thursday, September 6, 2018

ST. PAUL — The Minnesota State Fair will soon be able to welcome bigger crowds after setting an attendance record this year, according to event organizers.

Attendance this year topped 2 million for the first time in fair history. The record came as the fair in St. Paul’s Falcon Heights neighborhood prepares to break ground next month on a $14 million expansion that includes a new performing arts space and a traveling exhibit hall, the Minnesota Public Radio reported.

“You know, even on our biggest days, there’s plenty of room for people,” general manager Jerry Hammer said.

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The fair has managed to grow over the years to keep up with the increasing number of attendees, the most recent addition being a makeover of the fairgrounds’ north side this year. But the 322-acre fairgrounds property is still boxed in by railroad tracks, the University of Minnesota and St. Paul’s main north-south street.

“There’s really not any more space available around the fair, so what we’re doing is using all the space we have, the best way we can,” Hammer said.

The fair can get very crowded during peak hours. But without a place to send people if they had to be turned away, Hammer said the fairgrounds will just have to make room for more.

“If you go up and look, ride the Space Tower on the busiest day, look down and there’s space all over the place,” Hammer said. “And you want to see people vanish in a hurry, have it start raining and the streets just empty. There’s no problem with those huge crowds all moving away, and as soon as it stops, they’re all back outside.”