Minnesota State Fair officials announced Wednesday new attractions and exhibits for what they are calling the Great Minnesota Get-Back-Together for 2021 after taking a year off because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The most noticeable of what's new is the Riptide, a 55-foot-high roller coaster that will loom over the Midway. Fair officials said the ride has "all the ups and downs and twists and turns for that end-of-summer adrenaline rush."
As the delta variant continues sweeping the country, the fair is taking an active role getting as many people as possible vaccinated in the fight against COVID-19. Free shots will be available at a clinic in the North End Event Center. Everyone is eligible, and there is no appointment, identification or insurance required.
The fair runs from Aug. 26 through Sept. 6, Labor Day. Other new offerings:
• Joyful World Mural Park: Artists will paint 10 large-scale artworks that reflect the world they want to live in; located on the west side of Chambers Street between West Dan Patch and Carnes avenues.
• American Red Cross blood drive: An expanded pop-up donation site will be at the North End Event Center in an effort to increase the nation's lagging blood supply. Appointments are encouraged.
• Celebrating 100 years of the Cattle Barn: The barn was completed in 1921 and is considered one of the fair's signature structures. Its 117,450 square feet has room for 1,000 head of cattle. It was designed by famed and prolific architect Clarence H. Johnston. Fair visitors can view an educational timeline outlining the classic building's many milestones and participate in a photo. The barn is on the south side of Judson Avenue between Stevens and Liggett streets.
• More new foods: Baba's hummus bowls and Solem Concessions cheese curds and mini-doughnuts. Both are on the east side of Underwood Street between Murphy and Lee avenues.
• The Skin Cancer Foundation's mobile skin cancer education and screening program will offer free full-body skin exams by licensed dermatologists in a specially equipped RV. Screenings will be done on a first-come basis and subject to physician availability. No appointment is necessary. The service will be at Underwood Street, north of Murphy Avenue, and open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Aug. 28 only.
• Catch Co.'s Bassmobile: The outfitted RV features games, activities, giveaways and gear for sale, and will be on the south side of Wright Avenue between Underwood and Cooper streets.
• Fraser Sensory Building: A calming atmosphere, support staff and private side entrance will be available for visitors of all ages with sensory-processing challenges who may find the sights, sounds and smells of the fair overwhelming. The building is on the west side of Cosgrove Street, south of the Home Improvement Building, and open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
• North American Six-Horse Hitch Classic Cart Central Regional Finals: The finals feature premier draft horse hitches from 12 states and central Canada. At stake is a spot in this year's North American Six-Horse Hitch Classic Series World Finals Championship. The competition will be at 3 p.m. Aug. 26 in the Lee and Rose Warner Coliseum.
• New vendors, including nonprofits and community groups, will sell such goods as home and garden decor, gadgets, hobbies, beauty care, foodie fun, home solutions, threads, accessories.
• Fair visitors can learn about what's new and changed since the State Fair was last held in 2019 at mnstatefair.org/updates.
For more information about the new attractions, visit: mnstatefair.org/new-this-year/attraction.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482