Day two underway after crowds jammed fairgrounds for 2018 opening day

Open 6 a.m. to midnight through Sept. 3

Sloane Martin
August 23, 2018 - 8:48 am

The beloved and much-anticipated Minnesota State Fair is underway through Labor Day, Sept. 3.

In one of the busiest opening days anyone can remember, park-and-ride lots on Thursday were filled well before noon, and people just kept coming the rest of the day.

Attendance for the first day is announced before mid-day on Friday. 

Most figure the all-time opening day record of 119,145 will be challenged. That mark was set in 2010.

An estimated 2 million people will walk through the gates during the 12-day fair, with more than 100 people by 5:30 a.m. Thursday to be among the first inside. The earliest came just after 11 last night to guarantee that first spot to walk in with all the options in front of them, clean and without competition. For many, memories and connections are what makes them hold the state fair close.

"Besides my favorite foods, I come here in honor of my dad, who would get us up because I grew up in Wisconsin, and he'd get us out of school to come here," Ginger Johnson said. "Since he passed, I haven't missed a state fair except for the year that he died. Now I come and look at what's left of machinery hill because that was his favorite place. I come here and look at the things he would look at. Then I bring each one of my kids a separate day so it's family time."

She beat out Brian Motiaytias.

"It's quiet, it's nice," he said. "I just like being here."

The state fair is an opportunity for small businesses, brands and industries that fall under the radar to find a wide audience, like state wineries.

"This is an enormous platform for Minnesota wine," Leslee Miller, sommelier and representative for Minnesota wine country said. "We have over 70 wineries in the state."

Officials do caution that lines can get long, so attendees should get there early or get tickets ahead of time.

Niall Horan is on the grandstand Thursday.

Here is the state fair schedule. Here is ticket information.

The fairgrounds are open from 6 a.m. to midnight.