FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. — Visitors to this year’s Minnesota State Fair will experience dozens of new attractions, the highlight being a new $16 million events center.

The fair, which drew more than 2 million visitors last year, showed off its new building and other additions this past week. The upgrades will offer new programs and features for the ever-growing fair, which returns for its annual blast Aug. 22 to Sept. 2.

Here are some things to look for at the 2019 Great Minnesota Get-Together:

North End Event Center

This $16 million building provides 12,000 square feet of space that will feature rotating exhibits.

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The North End Event Center’s shed-like roof and wooden features help connect the glass-heavy building to the fair’s older structures.

“It’s all very Minnesota-centric,” general manager Jerry Hammer said Wednesday, July 17, while giving media a tour of the structure.

General manager Jerry Hammer looks at the progress of North End Event Center construction at the Minnesota State Fair Wednesday, July 17, 2019. Jasmine Johnson / St. Paul Pioneer Press
General manager Jerry Hammer looks at the progress of North End Event Center construction at the Minnesota State Fair Wednesday, July 17, 2019. Jasmine Johnson / St. Paul Pioneer Press

“Angry Birds Universe” will be the hall’s first exhibit. Based on the Angry Birds game and characters, the exhibit helps visitors explore art and science concepts through hands-on activities, he said. Visitors can build and race hand-held vehicles, launch Angry Birds with massive slingshots and knock over enormous foam structures while riding on a zipline. The exhibit is free with fair admission.

When the fair is not in season, the event center is available to rent for special events, from car shows to weddings.

The North End Event Center is located north of Murphy Avenue.

The Minnesota Corn Fairstalk. Courtesy of Minnesota State Fair
The Minnesota Corn Fairstalk. Courtesy of Minnesota State Fair

Statues and structures

The Minnesota Corn Fairstalk — a 24-foot structure — is an art piece intended to celebrate the state’s agriculture. It will be located in the North End’s front plaza.

LED screens will display fun facts about farming, food and the fair. Fairgoers can contribute to the video content in the display by using the #mnstatefair hashtag in their social media posts.

Also new this year will be statues of Minnesota icons old and new. Minnesota artist Adam Turman has created 6-foot-tall figures placed in the North End, including state fair mascot Fairchild, Paul Bunyan, Babe the Blue Ox and newcomer Hotdish Girl.

And Minnesota Marquees will be three large exhibit panels that will showcase influential people, institutions and events from Minnesota. The shade structures will also be on the fairgrounds’ North End, which Hammer called a new, 4.8-acre “neighborhood.”

Food lab

The state fair will celebrate Minnesota’s indigenous foods and culture on Sept. 1 at Dan Patch Park. Chefs will demonstrate Native foods and share the history, significance, uses and preservation techniques of ingredients and dishes.

The program will also introduce the Indigenous Food Lab, a culinary training center coming to the Twin Cities in 2020.

Goats

Goats are one of the fastest-growing livestock exhibits at the state fair. More than 1,400 goats came to the fair last year. This year, goats will have their own education station, dubbed the Goat Booth.

Visitors can learn more about goat breeds through activities and displays. Did you know that the tassels hanging from a goat’s neck are also called wattles? Fun facts like this and more can be found at the Goat Booth, located inside the south entrance of the Sheep and Poultry Barn. The Goat Booth will be open Aug. 30 through Sept. 2.

The giant slide has been one of the top attractions for 50 years at the Minnesota State Fair. Minnesota State Fair photo.
The giant slide has been one of the top attractions for 50 years at the Minnesota State Fair. Minnesota State Fair photo.

New rides and the classics

The five-story Giant Slide celebrates its 50th anniversary at the 2019 State fair.

About 9 million fairgoers have sat on burlap sacks to ride the slide’s dips. The slide is owned and operated by three generations of the Pittroff family, who first brought the slide to the fair in 1969. It’s located east of Nelson Street and north of Carnes Avenue.

Three new rides debut at the fair this year: a swinging pirate ship dubbed the Sea Ray, the fast-spinning Zero Gravity and a merry-go-round.

Go to mnstatefair.org for more information.