The State Fair may be better known for its on-a-stick food, live farm animal births and carved butter heads, but it’s also a great place to shop for unique, handcrafted goods by Minnesota makers. Because vendors are spread across the fairgrounds’ 350,000 square feet, here’s a guide to the main shopping areas and what to find at each.
The Veranda is a new shopping and dining destination on the upper level of the Grandstand’s west side. It’s filled with nearly 20 homegrown makers, ranging from vintage and up-cycled goods to handmade products from Adam Turman Art, Hagen and Oats (wood decor) and American Craftsmen (handcrafted wood canoes and paddles). The space also features a balcony with patio seating, views of the fair overlooking Adventure Park and West End Market and locally sourced fare and craft beer. Located to the north of Dan Patch Ave.
West End Market
The West End Market debuted in 2014, offering a mix of shopping, live entertainment and food and beverages as well as the fair’s History and Heritage Center. Among the dozens of artisans, craftspeople and specialty merchants are J.R. Watkins (natural skincare and home cleaning products), I Like You (Minnesota-themed goods by local artists and crafters) and Creations by Will (wood-turned shave bowls, handmade shave soaps and wood-handled straight razors). Located at the west end of the fairgrounds
The International Bazaar features entertainment, food, crafts and wares from around the world. Look for handcrafted artisan pottery, soap, jewelry, hand-woven rugs and more imported from Morocco, Mexico, Africa, Bolivia and beyond. Located on the south side of Judson Avenue between Underwood and Cooper streets
For its second year at the fair, Northwoods-inspired apparel brand Sota Clothing is bringing back its mobile pop-up shop — a retrofitted 1972 Fleetwing Chickadee trailer. Located at the North Woods on the east side of Cooper Street between Lee and Randall avenues
When: Aug. 24–Sept. 4, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily
Where: Minnesota State Fair, 1265 Snelling Ave. N., St. Paul
Cost: $14 adults, $12 seniors, $12 kids 5–12, free for kids under 5
Now in its fifth year, this outdoor “walking play” by TigerLion Arts offers a mythic telling of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau’s mutual love affair with the natural world.
A professional ensemble of actors takes the audience on a journey through the natural environment, accompanied by bagpipes, ancient flutes, drums and choral arrangements.
Each performance takes place in several different locations within the arboretum, garden or park in which it’s set, and the audience is encouraged to travel along with the performers (hence the “walking play” distinction).
This year, the theater company takes up residency at Washburn Fair Oaks Park in Minneapolis for two weeks (Sept. 7–17) before traveling to Concord, Massachusetts, the ancestral home of both Emerson and Thoreau, for a series of performances.
The tour will culminate with a final weekend of shows at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum (Oct. 5–8). Thanks to a grant from the Minnesota Regional Arts Council and community partner resources, admission to the Washburn Fair Oaks Park performances will be free of charge.
When: Sept. 7–10, Sept. 14–17 and Oct. 5–8
Where: Washburn Fair Oaks Park, 200 E. 24th St. (Sept. 7–17) and Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, 3675 Arboretum Dr., Chaska (Oct. 5–8)
Cost: Free for Sept. 7–17 performances; Oct. 5–8 performances TBA
‘Philemon and Baucis — Planet in Peril: A Picnic Operetta’
For nine years running, local theater troupe Mixed Precipitation has reimagined the Shakespeare in the Park tradition as “picnic operettas,” showcasing its own original mini-operas at parks, farms and gardens in the metro area.
Based on the Greek myth of Baucis and Philemon, “Planet in Peril” is a new adaptation of Haydn’s rarely performed 1773 German marionette opera, with a twist: It’s set to the music of Queen.
The plot follows a pair of ancient gods as they return to earth from outer space in search of hospitality, and find it in an unexpected place: a down-and-out tavern. A “gender-bending extravaganza” ensues.
Bonus: The audience is invited to enjoy a chef-crafted tasting menu inspired by the operetta, featuring locally sourced ingredients.
When: Aug. 25–Sept 24
Where: Various locations
Cost: $10–$20 suggested donation
‘In Search of the Glass Slipper’
Minneapolis-based visual artist Perci Chester has become known for her colorful, large-scale, outdoor sculptures.
But in the mid-’70s, she was a young, recent art school grad living in San Francisco as it was transforming into one of the world’s biggest hubs for the LGBT community.
One fateful day in 1974, she attended a house party that marked the beginning of the documentary portrait series, “In Search of the Glass Slipper.”
The photographs were selected from a collection of roughly 200 portraits taken over the course of six months in San Francisco that capture the personal joy and vulnerability of the community and offer a seldom-seen, intimate glimpse into a unique moment in time.
When: Aug. 28–Sept. 29. The opening is Sept. 9 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. (7 p.m. artist conversation)
Where: Traffic Zone Gallery, 250 3rd Ave. N.
‘Sinuous: New River Oil Paintings by Lisa Grossman’
Although landscapes have been seen as inferior subjects for painting, contemporary abstract landscape art continues to challenge the boundaries of art.
The moody oil paintings of Lawrence, Kansas-based artist Lisa Grossman are exemplary of this style, interpreting the rivers, prairies and expansive horizons of the Midwestern landscape.
Grossman’s skill in depicting the outdoors has resulted in numerous recognitions, including artist-in-residence positions at six national parks and forests. From afar, her uncanny paintings are often mistaken for photography at first. But at a closer glance, it becomes clear that Grossman has captured something ephemeral that cannot be photographed.
When: Aug. 26–Oct. 7. The opening is Saturday, Aug. 26 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Where: Circa Gallery, 210 N. 1st St.
Free First Saturday Garden Party: Move
For this edition of the Walker Art Center’s monthly Free First Saturday series, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden hosts a series of performances ranging from Afrobeat-infused indie-pop to surrealist performance art.
In “Les moutons (The Sheep),” Toronto-based performance group Corpus reimagines the urban setting into a bucolic country scene in which costumed performers participate in routine sheep activities to droll, deadpan effect. (Think Monty Python at the sheep farm.) Audience interaction is encouraged.
The afternoon also features a live set from new Minneapolis supergroup Ambassadors of Culture, which includes former Aviette frontwoman Holly Muñoz along with Dalmar Yare, a favorite in the Somali music scene, multi-instrumentalist Martin Dosh and indie-pop solo artist Al Church.
Bonus: Walker gallery admission is free all day (10 a.m.–6 p.m.).
When: Saturday, Sept. 2 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with performances at 11 a.m., noon and 1 p.m. “Les moutons” will also be performed on Sunday, Sept. 3 at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Where: Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, 726 Vineland Place