State Fair Officials Hesitantly Raise Admission Costs

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — It’ll cost you a little more to get into the great Minnesota get-together this year.

This year’s general admission prices are $12 for adults, compared to last year when they were $11. Tickets for seniors went up a dollar from 2010 to $10 and kids’ tickets (ages 5-12) are now $2 bucks more at $10.

“We agonize over it every year, but we hadn’t changed the adult gate prices in 4 years, and the kids’ gate prices in 7 years, and things cost more,” said Minnesota State Fair General Manager Jerry Hammer.

He said the fair’s operating expenses have gone up. For instance, Hammer said the fair spends $1.8 million on free park-and-ride at 37 lots, $1.2 million on public safety, around $1 million on sanitation and more than $9 million on staffing payroll in addition to $1.3 million on free entertainment.

He said in all, it costs the fair $18.88 per visitor, still more than the price of an adult ticket.

Hammer also said for the price, fairgoers will also notice new additions this year.

“It’s not an attraction, but it’s a new restroom we built this year for 1.2 million dollars,” said Hammer, who said another free attraction is the “Giant Sing Along,” a group karaoke installation with 32 microphones and “Auto Tune,” an exhibit aimed at turning fairgoers into rock stars.

“It’s better to continue to present a first class fair than to start cutting corners. The only other option is to cut back the fair, and how do you do that?” said Hammer. “Then it’s just the ‘Good Minnesota Get Together.'”

Jan and John Stinchfield, owners of the Andre’s Watermelon booth for 22 years, said they agree.

“They had to (raise prices), just to cover these buildings, they are old,” said Jan Stinchfield, who said her chocolate dipped fruit and other features will also come with an extra five to seven percent cost this year due to the rising cost of produce.

“We did raise ours slightly this year, not that much because we still feel we want to still give people a chance to enjoy the whole fair,” said Stinchfield. “It can be hard, especially if you have a family of 3 or 4 or whatever, but the coupon books, they are the best, with two for one, we are in there as well.”

Kids under 5 can still attend the fair for free.

Pre-fair discount admission tickets for $9, for all ages, are available from June 6 to Aug. 24 at select locations.

For more information, click here.

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  • L

    A 1.2 million dollar restroom?!?! That seems a bit over the top…

  • Nick

    Total BS! They neglect to say how over priced their parking and vendor fees are.

    • Tom

      The first people to reply are the always the WHINERS!! If you can’t afford the 1 dollar, stay home. Or buy the advance tickets. They are still $9. Geezus…get over yourself!!

  • Mark from Minnesota TAX Waste

    Come on over to Mound if you want to see an expensive bathroom. They spent $165,000 on a single bathroom on a bike trail!! And when asked, they said it was money well spent!!

    • naaa...try 'tonka out

      Try out Minnetonka…the trail system and parks are soooooo over the top. Beautiful no doubt but the money tree is getting short of leaves too.
      My taxes suck – painful. And I am off lake – have friends who pay better than $18K a year in property taxes. INSANE

      • MIke

        Nobody is forcing them to live there………….

  • bubba136

    All that money it costs them and they still make a bundle.If it cost $18.81 a person, they would have been bankrupt a long time ago.Now on to the next lie.

  • Life costs

    I’m not so sure the $18.81 figure is out of line if the cost of the land, maintainence, taxes, wages, security, traffic, etc is compiled and pro-rated.
    That said – they take in loads on their grab from the vendors so they are not hurting.
    Anyone have any clue as to how bad the vendors are planning to jack things up this year???? I hit the Fair 2-3-4 times every year but no longer go there hungry either. Cannot afford to or it’s a Ben or better everytime just for wife and I. Ouch

  • Esther

    My daughter really wants to go to the fair, but we just can’t afford for our whole family to go at that price.
    Not to mention the attractions aren’t really something that draw us in anyway.

    • B from Mpls

      Really Esther? Are you telling me that you couldn’t put $5 away each month to save up for this if you really want to go? How much did that Starbucks cost you this morning?

      Buy the pre-Fair discount tickets for $9, take the bus which costs $1.75 per person, per way and with the food/drink coupon book, you can easily do the Fair for under $75. I don’t think I’ve ever spent more than that for myself and I even buy beer when I go!

      Anyone who says it is cost-prohibitive to attend the Fair is out of their mind or just really bad at planning for things they want to do.

      • Tom

        Well said ‘B from Mpls’. They gave out too much info on this. Just tell us prices went up, economy blah blah and leave it at that. This cost breakdown only gives Whiners more ammunition.

    • Tom

      Buy ADVANCE TICKETS you clown! Still $9. Or stay home. More room for us the faithful Fair goers!

  • Denny

    ???? A bathroom that cost $1.2 MILLON DOLLARS. Whose pockets are getting lined here? Can build a mansion in St.Paul for that kind of money. What does it do? Spray everyones as* with designer perfume so it smells like a rose? Think we need some new people to mangage the money! More tax dollars going down the toilet:)

  • Please say it ain't so, mommy.

    Now that we’ve built a new Twins stadium, ticket prices, vendors, and parking are so expensive I can’t take my family there. The Vikings are already out of my price range but they want a new stadium too which will mean even higher ticket prices, etc. for them as well. I used to think if I ever did get an inheritance, I would buy a new car; that won’t happen but maybe I could take the family to a Viking game – maybe.

    My last hope for family fun that could almost be affordable has finally slipped away too. Even taking the bus to avoid the high parking fee, I’d have to take out a loan to bring my family of a wife and three children to the fair, feed them, and let them go on any of the midway rides or purchase any mementos at all.

    With all the money the state is going to be making from the new stadiums, do you think there’s any chance they could use some of those profits to hold the line on price increases for tickets to the state fair?

    • B from Mpls

      What is with all the complaining about the Fair price? Give me a break! If you can’t manage to set aside $150 ONCE a year to attend the Fair with your family, then you probably just don’t want to go that bad.

      We’re talking about setting aside roughly 40 cents per day for the year for a family of 4 to attend the Fair.

      What are you spending on that Starbucks each day again…?

  • skeesick

    If you buy the discount tickets available $9.00 x 4 =$36.00…family ticket for 4 on state fair bus$15.00…blue book of deals$ far $51.00 spent(less than $13.00 per person so far) inside blue book is discount on midway tickets,and lots of food.So it looks likeplease it aint so mommy,you and your family could get by on $100.00 or less….

  • get a grip

    Wahhhhh. Things cost more than they used to, wahhhhhh.

  • jan

    They started taking 20% commission on art sold at the fair making it harder for an artist to make a living.

    • B from Mpls

      That’s it? I’m really surprised they’re not asking 25-50% commission with all the traffic the Fair provides for the artists.

      Imagine how hard it would be to make a living if they took 80% commission, or even if they didn’t allow the sale of private artworks at the Fair at all…

      20% isn’t looking so bad…

      • Ahhh, we've solved the case, Watson!

        Is it just me or does anyone else think B from Mpls is really the State Fair Gopher?

      • jan

        I’m just commenting on the increases at the fair. Until last year they never took any commission and sales were private between the artist and the buyer.

  • MAJ

    Folks – it is a dollar. How stupid to complain about a dollar when it is the best state fair in the country.

  • Nordberg

    I agreee, that if you save and plan ahead with your budget it’s not bad, it’s a great fair, and one of the best in the u.s. but maybe, just maybe they can keep thier costs down a bit if they don’t do things like spend 1.2 MILLION ON A FREAKIN’ CAN!!!! Gimme a break!

  • Vote with feet

    Can’t wait to see the bottom line attendance after the increase. it may result in a failure just like the Taste of MN when they increase their prices. Sure, expenses have gone up but salaries have not. So, people need to prioritize their discretionary spending. Will the State Fair win ? We shall see…

  • A Mpls Resident

    It would be cool if you paid 15 and given a 5 dollar food voucher, to use at any food stand. Chances if people are going to the fair they are going to spend at least 20-50 on food. I know its not much but people would feel at least appreciated.

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