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.

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“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.

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“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.

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