FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. (WCCO) — The Minnesota State Fair is always a popular place to spend Labor Day weekend. But this last weekend was one for the record books.
More than quarter million people came through the gates on Saturday, setting a one day all-time record.
The sprawling West End on the fair’s north side is a drastic makeover from the old Heritage Square, and it’s getting a lot of the credit for the boost in attendance. Just ask Mike Brennan, who owns two of the West End’s biggest attractions: Lulu’s Public House and the Grain Belt beer stand.
“The architects did a great job,” Brennan said. “Even when it’s busy, it’s not congested.”
Business has been so good that the Grain Belt’s novelty blueberry beer actually sold out.
Another West End attraction, the Blue Barn, has drawn raves for its food from critics and fairgoes alike.
“It’s great,” said Pat Lundrigan of Burnsville. “We were just commenting on how nice it is. We really like it.”
Adding to the West End’s luster is the nearby new transportation hub for buses. Riders, like Madie Duckwall of Burnsville, say it’s a big improvement from the old bus depot.
“It’s a lot easier, it’s a lot more convenient,” she said.
Other factors driving attendance were more free shows, and big-name Grandstand headliners. They included Tim McGraw, Journey and Fall Out Boy.
Another big draw was a dramatically revamped set of horse shows.
“If you went to a horse show this year, you saw more breeds, more classes, more competitions, and more disciplines of horsemanship than you have ever seen in the past,” said Brienna Schuette, a fair spokesperson.
The magic number the fair has to hit Monday is 125,098. That would break the old 12-day record of nearly 1.8 million, which was set back in 2009.
Usually, the last day of the fair does top 125,000, so the record is within reach.