Fair freebies come with a price

The fair is known for its food, but don’t go expecting anything edible to be free.

Finding free stuff at the Minnesota State Fair can be fun, but tiring. Walking through the fair you’ll find many booths of businesses that are mostly concerned with advertising — no stuff for sale on a stick. Most people would not look at them twice if they didn’t know they gave out free stuff. We were sent out into the fair to find all the free stuff we could, and this is our advice.

Grace Pastoor and Matthew Aguilar combed
the fair to find these freebies.

Photo by Matthew Aguilar and Grace Pastoor

Where to look:

If you’re looking for free things the best place to search would be the Education Building. Housing many university and college booths, each with unique things to offer, you’ll find an abundance of pencils and leaflets. There are even reusable bags!

When we entered the Education Building we saw a 50-foot, double line of people waiting for purple University of St. Thomas bags. The university’s booth used to give the bags out whenever, but they became so popular that they are now only distributed at 9:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 4 p.m., and 7 p.m. You don’t have to pay for freebies with money, but you do pay in a way by spending a lot of time in long lines.

Free food:

The fair is known for its food, but don’t go expecting anything edible to be free. The only free food we were able to hunt down was a small sample of ground beef at the Minnesota Beef Council’s stand. And who wants to wait in a 15-minute line for a tablespoon of beef? You’d do better at the grocery store on free sample day.

What’s popular:

When you walk around the fair you see people carrying tote bags sporting the logos of University of St. Thomas, UnitedHealth Group, WCCO News and more. It seems like everyone loves reusable bags, possibly because they can carry around all the other things they’ve gotten around the fair.

What we found:

It probably took a whole tree to make all the fliers we came out of the fair with. With the free WCCO News bag, you get an astonishing amount of coupons for things ranging from Gold’n Plump chicken breasts, to Caribou Coffee, to the Renaissance Festival — you might get more free stuff than you expected. The Education Building provided an array of pencils, bracelets, and pins advertising different universities. If you want to get school supplies on the cheap, it’s worth checking out.

So is it worth it to put special effort into finding free stuff at the fair? We can’t decide that for you, but now you know that to get the really good stuff you’ll have to stand in long lines and fight your way through a sea of people. Good luck!

For more information on free things at the fair, click here.