Minnesota State Fair: Cheap and free things to do

Tomorrow, the gates of the Minnesota State Fairgrounds will open for 12 days of foods on a stick, baby animals, award-winning jams and flowers, friendly carnies running Mighty Midway rides, and free concerts on multiple stages. The fair is an event that is notorious for eating wallets, but with some frugality you can have fun for less, have things to take home, and even possibly win big prizes.

The following is a list of some of the cheap or free things to do, such as $1 food items, and what booths to hit up to enter contests with big wins (they're giving away cars this year, people!). Looking for free stuff? We've also got the best of the free items as well, such as sunglasses, backpacks, ear buds, and playing cards.

See also:
Top 10 concerts to see at the MN State Fair


Are you planning on buying things and sampling from a lot of different vendors? You should consider spending $4 on a Blue Ribbon Bargain Book. They're filled with freebies, discounts, and other special deals that will quickly add up if you've got a lot on your itinerary. You can buy them at the State FairWear Gift Shops and State Fair Foundation Souvenir Kiosks. You can check out all of the coupons inside here.
Getting there: Parking at the Minnesota State Fair can be a pain in the ass. Meanwhile, park-and-rides are free. You can see the list of locations here.

Free stuff:

Andersen Corp.
(Cosgrove Street, between Wright & Dan Patch Avenues)

Tote bags.

Auto City Glass
(Underwood Street)

Bracelets, keychains.

Children's Hospitals and Clinics of MN
(Randall Avenue & Cosgrove Street)

Bracelets, T-Shirts, pails and shovels, hand sanitizer (which may come in handy at the fair), sunglasses, collapsible water bottles, backpacks.

College of St. Scholastica
(Education Building, northeast corner)

Fans and buttons.

Crossroads Chapel
(Underwood Street)

Bead cross necklaces.

Delta Dental Minnesota
(Cosgrove Street)

Dental floss.

Gedney Pickle
(Wright Avenue)

Pickle hats, pickle sampling, rubber grippers.

History Theatre
(Upper Grandstand)

Buddy Holly glasses.

Home Depot
(Underwood Street)

Frisbees, can coolers, yardsticks, buckets, Nerf footballs, water bottles.

Irish on Grand
(International Bazaar)

Calendar magnets.

Jim Hansel Editions
(Lower Grandstand)

Signed art cards.

(Nelson Street)

Sunglasses, beer koozies, playing cards, hot/cold packs.

Lupient Automotive
(Underwood Street)

Tote bags.

(West of Grandstand)

Sunglasses, earbuds, glow sticks, chapstick.

MN State Colleges and Universities
(Education Building)

Totes, cinch sacks, water bottles, bandanas, more.
PreferredOne Insurance Company
(Cosgrove St.)

Sunscreen, coloring books.

(Dan Patch Avenue)

Tote bags, mini flashlights.
Star Tribune
(North side of Carnes Avenues, between Chambers & Nelson)

Plastic bags, lip balm.

Image courtesy of the Minnesota State Fair
Stuff that costs $1 or less:

Dairy Goodness Bar
(Dairy Building, southeast corner)

Order up milk (white, chocolate, strawberry), yogurt, and cheese sticks for $1 each.

Frontier Bar
(Carnes Avenue)

Popcorn, hot dogs, and salted peanuts.

India Imports
(International Bazaar)

Ride the feather trend with affordable feathers.

MN Cultivated Wild Rice
(Dairy Building)

Quick cooking wild rice.

Panda Palace
(International Bazaar)

Enjoy a cream-cheese wonton.

Rainbow Ice Cream
(Upper Grandstand)

Small scoop ice-cream cone.

ZRS Fosils and Gifts
(Grandstand, lower level)

Fossil and tumbled stones.

Cool things to enter to win:

Better Business Bureau
(Education Building)

Samsung Galaxy tablet.

Buick GMC
(Cooper Street)

Win a fishing trip to Wiley Point Resort, or a half-day fishing trip with Ron Schara.

Craftmaster's Remodeling
(Home Improvement Building)

Win a home improvement project worth $10,000.

Custom Remodelers, Inc.
(Home Improvement Building)

Win new siding or windows for your home.

Driven to Discover, D2D U of M
(Cosgrove Street)

Win iPad Minis, iPods, Beats by Dre headphones, HDTV, Kindles, more.

ESPN 1500 AM Twin Cities
(Chambers Street)

Win a freakin' hot tub.

(Various locations)

Win a Honda Fit.

KMSP Fox 9

(Nelson Street)

Win a Mazda 6.

MN Pork Board

(East of Warner Coliseum)

Win free bacon for a year (8/29-31).

Up next: Entertainment and animals

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Tom Weglarz
Tom Weglarz

Go early while the deep frier oil is fresh!

Jean Wright
Jean Wright

I like that ,!) Wish I could be there.

Krystin Andersen
Krystin Andersen

Tysk concessions has $1 sno cones! Up on machinery hill everyday of the fair!!!

Renae Wesenberg
Renae Wesenberg

Yes head to the Coliseum, take a seat and watch the horse show!

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