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Where to shop and what to wear at the Minnesota State Fair

i like you at the West End Market

i like you at the West End Market Courtesy Minnesota State Fair

You know what time it is: STATE FAIR TIME!

The Great Minnesota Get-Together is back already. Yes, it does signal the end of summer, which is kind of a bummer, but it’s also basically the most fun two weeks ever—at least, if you’re a fair enthusiast like this writer. (I’m having my bachelorette party at the fair, I love it that much.)

The following are the best places to shop at the State Fair, and exactly what you should be wearing on your pilgrimage from the SkyGlide to the horse barn. Yes, you can do more than eat, drink, and go on rides at the fair: You can shop til you drop, too. Magical, right?

African Collections in the International Bazaar

African Collections in the International Bazaar Courtesy Minnesota State Fair

International Bazaar
Visit the Bazaar for goods from all over the world: Turkish bath towels, Moroccan ceramics, cute dala horses from Sweden. There’s no telling what you’ll find at the Bazaar, which makes it an ideal stop if you have any gift-giving occasions in your future.

The Grandstand
The mother of all State Fair buildings is the legendary Grandstand. You can buy pretty much anything in the Grandstand, from pet toys to meat sticks. You should definitely make sure to stop by the Troentop Clog booth to nab a pair or two of their discounted clogs; they're an ideal fall shoe. You can also buy a hot tub at the Grandstand if that’s your thing.

Adam Turman in the Grandstand

Adam Turman in the Grandstand Courtesy Minnesota State Fair

Lee & Rose Warner Coliseum
The Coliseum is basically a giant flea market. There's a plethora of handmade jewelry, custom shirts, and sparkly western wear. Have a few beers and maybe you’ll go home with some rhinestone cowboy accessories.

West End Market
If you’re into recycling and upcycling, hit up the West End Market to satisfy your eco-friendly cravings. Their vendors have used everything, including salvaged materials like wood and machinery parts, to create home goods, jewelry, and gifts.

Swedish Clogs in the Grandstand.

Swedish Clogs in the Grandstand. Troentorp Clogs

WHAT TO WEAR TO THE FAIR

Don’t show up to the fair in the wrong outfit. The weather during fair time can be wild, so be smart.

Pack a poncho.
Are you heading out to St. Paul when there’s rain in the forecast? Take my advice and pack a little poncho in your bag, because there’s nothing worse than being stuck in a downpour and having to pay $10 for what is essentially a garbage bag to keep yourself dry. Pack your own so you’re prepared in case of rain.

Cover your toes
Walking through the barns? There’s a lot of animal poop in those areas, for obvious reasons, so wear a pair of old sneakers in case of accidents. If you must wear sandals, then opt for something a bit sturdier than your go-to plastic beach flip-flops. The fair is also mad crowded at most hours, so covering your toes is smart; you never know who might accidentally step on your feet while in line for cheese curds.

Pack hand sanitizer
Hey, it’s kind of gross at the fair. That’s part of its charm. I like the Dr. Bronner’s “natural” lavender hand sanitizer.

Don’t wear a minidress
Think about it. It’s hot and sweaty. A lot of butts have been on that bus seat or SkyGlide or picnic bench. Keep your butt covered in a longer sun dress, but skip the maxi; you don’t want it dragging in cow manure.