The office for the Dakota County Fair has been buzzing with activity as final preparations are made for the fair's Monday opening.
"Come have some fun and eat some food the doctor says you shouldn’t," joked fair President Don Storlie on Thursday. "He’s going to be eating it, too."
The 153rd Dakota County Fair—one of the largest county fairs in the state—runs seven days at its fairground home in Farmington.
This week, tents went up, employees had orientation and the 353 acres were prepped for an anticipated 150,000 attendees.
"Not every day goes perfect, but most days it does,” Storlie said.
Storlie, a native and lifelong resident of Lakeville, is in his second year at the helm of the fair. His love for the annual gathering is easy to spot.
“I have fond memories of it growing up here," he said. "I used to show pigs in 4-H.”
Farm animals are still a main attraction at the fair, but a number of others have been added over the years.
“We have so many different things for everyone,” Storlie said. One of his personal favorites is "Woods, Wolves and Wildlife," a daily event that includes animal feedings and a wolf howling contest.
The lumberjack shows are back after debuting last year to throngs of approving spectators, and new for this year’s fair is a lawnmower race at the grandstand.
“They’re really fun, and of course the lawnmowers make lots of noise,” Storlie said.
Also back is Mutton Bustin’, where kids try to tame a renegade lamb rodeo-style. Riders must be under age 10 and weigh less than 65 pounds.
Other highlights include five nights of the demolition derby at the grandstand, as well as motocross on Monday night and a tractor pull on Thursday night.
More rides, food, games, art, food, crafts, animals, musical entertainment, exhibitors—and did we mention food?—are all in the mix.
General Admission Tickets:
- $5 for adults
- $2 for children 6 to 12 and seniors over 60
- Free for children 5 and under
- Parking: $5 daily
Several admission, parking and grandstand packages can be purchased before the fair begins. Visit the Dakota County Fair website for complete information.
Grandstand Tickets (for each event):
- $12 for adults
- $6 for children 6 to 12
- Free for children 5 and under
- Lawn mower races at noon on Saturday are half price
- Tuesday: Kids Day—$1 admission for kids ages 6 to 12
- Wednesday: Military Day—Free admission and parking for military personnel and their families
- Thursday: Senior Day—Free admission and parking for senior citizens
- Wristbands: $20 in advance or $25 at the fair—get unlimited rides 7 p.m. to close Tuesday, noon to 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday, noon to close on Sunday
- Fair passports: $50 in advance or $60.00 during the fair—get free admission and unlimited rides all seven days of the fair
Food Highlights (in addition to all the traditional fair favorites):
- On a stick: Cookie dough dipped in chocolate, grilled pork chops
- Deep fried: Peanut butter sandwiches, apple pie, ice cream, pickles
- International: New Zealand meat pies, gyros, shish kabobs
- Johnny Holm Band, Thursday at the fair's beer garden
- Other 21+ music shows: Ali Gray, Brian Gleason Band, Lost Highway and Kooky Uncle Tony
- Free all-ages entertainment stage features dancers, musicians and other entertainers daily.
A complete listing of event times and information is available on the Dakota County Fair website.