If you are like me, you venture to the Great Minnesota Get Together for the food! Yep, Deep Fried Snickers Bars, Cheese Curds (but only from the food building), Hawaiian Shaved Ice…the list goes on and on. The one thing I don’t think about at the State Fair is shopping; however, two Mondays ago that all changed.

I had the opportunity to hear from several vendors, learned about the process of becoming a Minnesota State Fair vendor, and how the Fair positions them for the fair-goer’s best shopping experience.

Pam Simon, the concessions and exhibits manager, works year round to ensure the best vendors for the Minnesota State Fair are there. Simon also strategically places vendors in what the Fair calls “neighborhoods” so that everyone in the family can shop happily together. For example, if there is a vendor that your child would love there’s most likely a vendor next door for mom and dad. There are 11 neighborhoods to shop in.

Five vendors I had the opportunity to meet, have some incredible items for us moms, or for Christmas shopping. Yes, I did just say Christmas shopping! Why not think ahead to the holidays, especially if you have people in your life who love locally made items?

Tip: If you don’t have a way to carry your items with you for the day ask the vendor you purchased it from because most will hold an item for you, you just need to ask.

Now, let me introduce you to these awesome vendors…

The Holly House Boutique

 

The Holly House Boutique is located in the Grandstand, upper level and is brand new to the fair. They showcase local artisans’ handmade designs. They offer pillow cases, bird feeders, signs, flasks and more. A few of my favorite items were the Tea Towels, Golf Ball bottle cap openers, and bird feeders!

Holly House found at the Minnesota State Fair
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Holly House found at the Minnesota State Fair in the Grandstand upper level.

Tip: They are offering promotional deals during Military Appreciation day, Senior day, and Thrifty Thursday.

Wish Boutique

Wish Boutique is located in the Grandstand, upper level and is also brand new to the fair. They have a men’s line and women’s life, along with some slapper koozies for bottles or cans and more. My favorites were the “Mama needs a cocktail” shirt and the reversible skirt (that one of the owners is wearing).

Wish Boutique can be found at the Minnesota State Fair 2016
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Wish Boutique can be found in the Grandstand on the upper level.

I like you

I like you is located in the West End Market and has been at the fair for seven years. It is all locally made items by Minnesota artists and crafters. I love that! They have apparel, hats, mittens, prints, dishtowels, glassware and more. I like you, has given 3 Million dollars back into the community. How cool is that!?

Tip: They have a coupon in the Blue Ribbon Bargain Book this year!

I like you is located on the West End Market.
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I like you is located in the West End Market.

Birchberry Native Arts and Food

Birchberry Native Arts and Food is located in the International Bazaar. They have Native American-made birch and feather wreaths, baby moccasins, wild rice pancake mixes, American Indian fry bread mix, Organic wild rice, soaps and more. I can’t wait to try the wild rice items.

birchberry
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Birchberry is located in the International Bazaar.

Machine Age Lamps

Machine Age Lamps is located in West End Market and has been at the fair three years. Shawn, the owner, uses salvaged early American factory parts to make one of a kind lamps, industrial tables, and art.

Tip: They will ship for free if you find something you love at the fair and don’t want to take it home that day.

Meet Fairchild & Fairborne at the Visitors Plaza every day between 11am – 4pm

And besides shopping, don’t forget to stop by Visitors Plaza between 11am-4pm every day of the fair to see Fairchild, who is celebrating his 50th birthday, and his nephew Fairborne.

Tip: Have your camera ready for a great photo op!

Meet Fairchild & Fairborne at the Visitors Plaza every day between 11am - 4pm
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Meet Fairchild & Fairborne at the Visitors Plaza every day between 11am – 4pm

We also were able to sample six of the new State Fair foods. I’ll give you the quick rundown and tell you my top three picks.

#6. Cheesy French Onion Monkey Bread

Cheesy French Onion Monkey Bread– located at the Blue Moon Diner– In Theater. I do not care for French Onion soup so this was not a good one for me. However, if you love French Onion Soup then this is a MUST! It’s basically the top of the soup!

#5. Grilled Cheese Bites

Grilled Cheese Bites– located at O’Gara’s at the fair. Made from a White Cheddar Cheese and Beer Batter blend, deep fried and served with a bloody mary mix marinara. The marinara was tasty, but I thought the bites were okay. I would rather have the marinara with a regular cheese curd.

Grilled Cheese Bites
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Grilled Cheese Bites

#4. Loaded Tots

Loaded Tots- located at the Tot Boss. I actually really enjoyed these. They offer many different types but I tried the one with bacon of course! Tot Boss also has a food truck!

Totboss Collage
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Loaded Tots from Tot Boss

Now for my top three 2016 Minnesota State Fair Food picks…

*Disclaimer* I think these could be interchangeable and are all #1 in my book! AKA…I will be eating one of each at the fair this year.

#3. Minnesnowii Shave Ice

Minnesnowii Shave Ice– located at the Minnesnowii Shave Ice. This stand is not new but they have a new topping and exclusive flavors. New topping…100% sweetened condensed milk drizzled over your flavored ice for a creamy, melt in your mouth taste!! Oh, My!

Minnesnowii
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Minnesnowii Shaved Ice

#2. Minnesota Corn Dog

Minnesota Corn Dog– located at the Gass Station Grill. I do not get a corn dog at the state fair but this is NOT your normal corn dog. This is a custom ground sausage made with blueberries, apples, wild rice, maple syrup and cayenne dipped in a homemade corn dog batter. Delicious! And do not dip this bad boy in ketchup. No condiments needed here.

Minnesota corn dog
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Minnesota Corn Dog at Gas Station Grill

#1. Rustic Beef Pastry

Rustic Beef Pastry- French Meadow Bakery & Café. Not your typical fair food…but I am telling you…you MUST try this! It’s a flakey butter crust topped with Moroccan-spiced, grass-fed beef and baby spinach topped with creamy goat cheese. It is fabulous and light, and did I mention fabulous?!?!

Rustic Beef Pastry at French Meadow Bakery
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Rustic Beef Pastry at French Meadow Bakery

Now that you have great tips for shopping and eating, what are you going to do first on our visit to the Minnesota State Fair?

 

Daphne Christenson is the wife of a church planter, mother of two boys and Mary Kay consultant. In her very limited spare time she enjoys being a part of the leadership team for her MOPS group and practicing her Pinterest skills with any DIY project she can get her hands on.

 

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Bert Anderson is a blogger and social media manager mom of three living outside of the Twin Cities in Minnesota. She’s the author behind the blog First Time Mom, where she honestly chronicles the peaks and valleys of parenting. Even though she has more than one child, Bert maintains that whether you have one child or 19, there’s a first time for everything. She’s a lover of coffee, conversations, pop culture, healthy living and fitness.

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