Accommodations aplenty at 2019 Minnesota State Fair

The Minnesota State Fair is always a mix of the old and the new. The 2019 fair, which runs from August 22 to Labor Day September 2, is no exception. A large new and accessible North End venue, more than 50 first-time vendors and exciting new attractions will be ready when the gates open.

The Minnesota State Fair is committed to providing equal access and a pleasant experience for all its guests. Services provided include electric mobility scooters, strollers, wagon and wheelchair rentals, accessible parking, a wheelchair accessible park and ride area, a passenger drop-off area, assistive listening devices, sign language interpreters, accessible seating at all entertainment venues, curb cuts throughout the fairgrounds and Care & Assistance, which provides a number of accessibility services. Care & Assistance is located at 1338 Dan Patch Ave., across from West End Market. Hours are 8 a.m.-11 p.m.

This edition of Access Press includes information on general fair accessibility, accessible dining venues and other attractions. Take the newspaper along as a “fair” friend.

The Minnesota State Fair website, www.mnstatefair.org, has an accessibility guide in pdf form that can be printed out. The contact phone number of access questions is 651-288-4448. Questions can be emailed to accessibility@mnstatefair.org

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New North End

Visit the redeveloped North End area to see a changing array of exhibits. The Norththe fairgrounds.

A 12,000-square-foot state-of-the-art exhibit hall will provide fairgoers with a new exhibit every year during the fair. The exhibits take flight with Angry Birds Universe: The Exhibition. Visitors can also see the Minnesota Corn Fairstalk, a 24-foot-tall art installation celebrating Minnesota agriculture and Minnesota Marquees, three shade structures on the plaza, which feature exhibit panels showcasing iconic, innovative and influential people, institutions and events from around the state.

While visiting, take the chance to pose for photos with prominent Minnesota artist Adam Turman’s six-foot figures, including State Fair mascot Fairchild, Paul Bunyan, Babe the Blue Ox and Hotdish Girl.

The new venue will also have Minnesota-based specialty merchants and several rotating exhibits and events. This area will also have guest services such as wheelchair and electric scooter rental, an information booth, State FairWear Gift Shop, Minnesota State Fair Foundation booth, the North End gate, and drop-off/pick-up locations for app-based ride services and Metro Mobility.

This year’s fair has many other new attractions, ranging from honoring the Giant Slide on its 50-year anniversary, to an 18,000-pound block of ice in the center of the Eco Experience exhibit. The ice block will melt away during the fair, raising awareness of how climate change is shortening Minnesota’s lake ice season and the implications for our economy and ecology. Sign up to be a citizen volunteer and help collect lake ice data.

Check the fair website for information on this year’s many other new features.


Visit service organizations, attend events

Many disability service organizations will have a presence at the state fair. The Education Building booth area typically features several groups with free information and giveaway items. Visit the state Council on Disability booth to get a wide array of items, including free posters.

A day to promote mental health awareness is 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday, August 26 at Dan Patch Park, presented by the Minnesota State Advisory Council on Mental Health, Subcommittee on Children’s Mental Health, National Alliance on Mental Illness Minnesota and many other organizations.

Learn about the far-reaching mental health and wellness topics that affect all Minnesotans. Visitors can learn about mental health resources and wellness through games and activities as well as inspiring stage acts including music, youth performances, yoga, and more. More than 50 awareness-raising activities, many of them geared for children and teens, will be offered.

Featured guests include Minneapolis hip-hop and spoken word artist Desdamona, KARE11 multimedia journalist Bryan Piatt, the Fidgety Fairytales performers, Minnesota musician Mark Mallman, The Renovators, and others. The event is free with fair admission. Led by the MN State Advisory Council on Mental Health & Subcommittee on Children’s Mental Health and NAMI Minnesota, over 50 health organizations will participate in the day’s activities. Learn more about this important and fun event at www.namimn.org or call 651-645-2948.

Like therapy nimals? The Pet Pavilions’ “Read to a Breed” joins Read & Ride Day at the fair, giving children the opportunity to read to attentive dogs, cats, rabbits and other breeds of North Star Therapy Animals. This event is 9 a.m.- 2 p.m. Wednesday, August 28.

Check the fair schedule online for other disability group events and exhibits.


Getting to the fair

Anyone driving to the fairgrounds can seek accessible parking, which is offered on a first-come, first-served basis, at a cost of $15 per day, cash only. Fairgrounds parking is open 6 a.m.-midnight every day except Labor Day, when the lots close at 10 p.m. Go to the fair website for information on accessible parking spaces, in the Rooster Lot at Hoyt Avenue and Underwood Street, and in the Robin Lot on Randall Avenue by the transit hub.

There is also accessible parking in two Como Avenue lots south of the fairgrounds.

But why not use a park and ride lot? One close-in free park and ride lot with free wheelchair-accessible bus service is offered exclusively for people with disabilities and their companions. The lot is located on the north side of the Oscar Johnson Arena, 1039 De Courcy Circle, south of the fairgrounds. Exit from Snelling Avenue at Energy Park Drive; travel east to the first left past Snelling east of the Merrill Corporation office building and go to the north side (rear side) of Oscar Johnson Arena. Passengers travel nonstop to the fairgrounds and are dropped off at the Como Loop Gate

9. Buses run continuously, from 8 a.m. to midnight daily.

Other outlying park and ride lots have limited accessible bus availability. Note that the Roseville Area High School lot isn’t available this year. The lots at St. Rose of Lima in Roseville (Monday-Saturday and Sunday after 1 p.m.) and University of Minnesota Minneapolis campus (daily except August 30) are wheelchair-accessible, as is Grace Church, 1310 County Road B2, Roseville.

Go to www.metrotransit.org for details.

Fairgoers can also use regular Metro Transit service. The A Line buses on Snelling Avenue are accessible, as are regular route buses 960, 84, 61 and 3. Metro Transit offers State Fair Express Bus service, for a $5 round trip, with locations throughout the Twin Cities area. All express service is accessible. For regular route and fair express information call 612- 373-3333 or go to www.metrotransit.org http://www.metrotransit.org

Metro Mobility riders have pickup and drop-off at Taking Metro Mobility? The paratransit service uses two locations for drop-offs and pickups. These are at Como Loop Gate #9 and North End Gate #2 on Hoyt Avenue. These points can also be used by people dropping off or picking up a person with disabilities. Both are close to Hometown Mobility stands. Electric mobility scooters, strollers, wagons and wheelchairs

HomeTown Mobility is an independent vendor that provides electric mobility scooters, strollers, wagons and wheelchairs for rent at five locations on the fairgrounds. If rented on-site, all equipment is available on a first-come basis with no guarantee of availability. Hours are 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. Cash, credit cards and debit cards are accepted forms of payment.

Reservations are now open for the 2019 fair, for full-day rentals only. Reserve online or call HomeTown Mobility’s home office at 877-928-5388 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and on weekends during the fair. Reservations made by phone are subject to a $5 call-in fee. Reservations must be made 24 hours in advance. Cancellation must be made 48 hours in advance to receive a refund, less a $5 cancellation fee per rental unit.

Electric mobility scooters are $65 per day or $45 for half-day rentals (hours for half-day rentals are 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. or 3-11 p.m.) Wheelchairs rent for $25 per day. Wagons rent for $17 per day. Single strollers are $15 per day and double strollers are $17 per day. Hometown Mobility locations are at the north side of Como Avenue inside the Loop Gate (Gate #9), the west side of Cosgrove Street between Wright and Dan Patch avenues, on the southwest corner of Cooper Street and the service road (Gate #2), the West End (Gate 16) and on the southwest corner of Randall Avenue and Underwood Street (Gate #18).

Recharging an electric scooter battery Regular electrical outlet plug-ins for charging electric mobility scooter batteries can be found in two places. Care & Assistance south of West End Market is open 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. The other location is on the south side of the grandstand outside between the entrance doors, where outlets are designated with disability signs.

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ASL interpreters, interpreted shows and rides American Sign Language

(ASL) interpreters are scheduled between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. Special requests for interpreter services are scheduled depending on availability and should be directed to 651-288-4448 or the Admin Too Building on Cosgrove Street. (See related story of St. Catherine University and its interpreter program.)

Shows with ASL interpretation are offered daily. The West End Market’s Schell’s Stage History On-A-Schtick show is at 9:30 a.m. The All-Star Stunt Dog Splash at 11 a.m. at North Woods on Cooper Street between Randall and Lee avenues. See performer Sean Emery at 12:30 p.m. on the Family Fair Stage in Baldwin Park.

ASL is also offered at 2 p.m. at the Pet Pavilion demonstrations, at Murphy Avenue and Underwood Street.

Another new ASL offering, Thank a Farmer, is 4 p.m. August 22 until September 1 at the Christensen Farms stage at Miracle of Birth Center. On Labor Day, there will be a magic show at 3 p.m.

Receivers and headsets are available at the guest services desk on the east side of the Grandstand Plaza. A valid driver’s license or state ID and a credit card are required for a deposit, which is refunded when the devices are returned. All of the fair’s entertainment venues, including the Grandstand, have accessible seating. It is available on a first-come basis. Plan to arrive early for shows and events.

Grandstand show tickets for people with disabilities can be purchased through the fair’s ticket office or through Etix, for additional information, call 651-288-4427. Grandstand shows also offer assistive listening devices, free of charge.