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Minnesota State Fair

The best Minnesota State Fair live music and food menu pairings

Before seeing Durry (left) at Schell’s Stage at Schilling Amphitheater, you could grab a bite nearby at Minnesota State Fair food vendor Nordic Waffles.
Before seeing Durry (left) at Schell’s Stage at Schilling Amphitheater, you could grab a bite nearby at Minnesota State Fair food vendor Nordic Waffles.Composite: Kay Dargen/Minnesota State Fair

by Ali Elabbady

August 04, 2022

For music fans, the Minnesota State Fair is 12 days of near-constant live entertainment – between the nightly Grandstand shows and free stages spread across the fairgrounds. To unlock peak enjoyment, and to minimize aimless wandering, knowing the best food and beverage options near the performance you’re checking out is key.

To make things easier, The Current has set you up with menu suggestions near the main stages where live music is a central factor.  It’ll keep the energy high for all the belt-out singing one plans to do at the fair.

See also: Minnesota State Fair new foods for 2022 go deep on international flavor

International Bazaar Stage

At the corner of Judson and Underwood, the International Bazaar resembles the open-air souks and markets you’d find around the world. The stage is centered right at the entrance, a perfect way to attract fairgoers to the bazaar’s many wares and foods. With acts like the Ukrainian Village Band (August 27-28), to the Chico Chavez Orchestra (August 29-30), the sounds will attract you to visit. (Note: The Taste of Midtown Global Market booth switches vendors midway through the fair, with Andy’s Garage from August 26-31, and Arepa Bar from September 1-5.)

New foods at 2022 Minnesota State Fair
Dej Qab Zib (Sweet Refreshment) from new vendor Union Hmong Kitchen is among the new foods to be offered at the 2022 Minnesota State Fair. It's described as "a coconut lychee colada made with a blend of coconut milk, lychee syrup, lime and mint, served over ice."
Courtesy Minnesota State Fair

 Beverage: The Dej Qab Zib (Sweet Refreshment) from Union Hmong Kitchen booth, one of two new vendors at the International Bazaar, is sure to provide plenty of refreshment, especially on those days when the temperature and humidity make your trek across the fair unbearable.

Appetizer: The tandoor-fired jerk chicken Mini’zza at West Indies Soul Food is an excellent way to awaken your worldly adventure.

Entree: The Arepa Bar will fill you up nicely with your choice of protein (chicken, pork shoulder, or black beans) inside a Venezuelan crispy corn pocket.

Dessert: You could take some extra steps over to the Food Building and enjoy a sweet cheese blintz from iPierogi.

Leinie Lodge Bandshell Stage

At the south end where Cooper and Cosgrove meet, north of the Space Tower within the Fairgrounds, the Leinie Lodge Bandshell has hosted countless local and national acts on its stage, and 2022 is no exception. The Leinie Lodge has a treasure trove of headliners in the evening like Low Cut Connie (August 31 & September 1), Caitlyn Smith (August 27-28), the Jayhawks (September 4-5), the Family Stone (September 2-3), and Dire Straits Legacy (August 29-30), while the daytime acts boast a spectrum of genres from bluegrass, jazz, Brazilian samba, and more. It also boasts a close proximity to the Food Building to grab your bites to eat accordingly.

New foods at 2022 Minnesota State Fair
Kulfi -- Indian-Style Ice Cream in Three Flavors -- from Hot Indian is among the new foods to be offered at the 2022 Minnesota State Fair. It's described as a dessert "made with condensed milk, nuts and infused spices. Available in three creamy flavors: Almond/Cashew/Pistachio; Mango; and Saffron/Almond/Pistachio." It's gluten-free and vegetarian.
Courtesy Minnesota State Fair

Beverage: Since you’re about a block away from the International Bazaar, the Turmeric Ginger Surprise from West Indies Soul Food makes for an excellent reward for getting your extra steps in. If you want to keep it close, keep in mind it is called the Leinie Lodge for a reason.

Appetizer: If you’re there to catch the early acts, the Chilaquiles breakfast from Tejas Express could be the best part of waking up.

Entree: The Poultrygeist of the Steak-Xorcist from The Herbivorous Butcher will have you plenty stuffed, ready to burn that energy. When Dire Straits Legacy serves up a spirited rendition of “Money For Nothing,” you’ll become your very own karaoke party. Otherwise, the Soulsicle from another new vendor, Soul Bowl, is another fantastic all-in-one meal.

Dessert: The Kulfi at Hot Indian Foods on the east wall of the Food Building is the star of the show. Otherwise, after all the bites of food you enjoyed along your Fair adventure, try one of the many assorted fruit and energy bowls from Nautical Bowls located at the north wall of the Food Building.

Schell’s Stage at Schilling Amphitheater

On West Dan Patch Avenue within close distance to the Grandstand, Schilling Amphitheater is home to the indie pop, folk, and country acts that play the great Minnesota get together. Not only is it nearby many of the handmade goods and quirks at the West End Market, it also has countless food options nearby. 2022 has acts like Durry (August 25-26), Annie Mack (August 29-30), Turn Turn Turn (August 31 & September 1), NUNNABOVE (September 4-5), Kinda Fonda Wanda, and hosts First Avenue Goes to the Fair as the Fair’s shows featuring Al Church and the Congregation playing house band on September 2 (Colin Bracewell, Meghan Kreidler of Kiss the Tiger, Ness Nite, Obi Original, the Alarmists) and September 3 (Cindy Lawson, Mae Simpson, Molly Brandt, Ricki Monique, Thomas Abban).

New foods at 2022 Minnesota State Fair
Sweet Potato Poutine from The Blue Barn is among the new foods to be offered at the 2022 Minnesota State Fair. It's described as "sweet potato waffle fries topped with cheese curds, Beyond chorizo sausage, turmeric gravy, pico de gallo and fresh cilantro."
Courtesy Minnesota State Fair

Beverage: I mean, it is the Schell’s stage sponsored by Schell’s Beer, right?

Appetizer: The Tot Dog at Lulu’s Public House seems like a smart appetizer to get your carbs and protein all on a stick.

Entree: The Sweet Potato Poutine at The Blue Barn and the Concha Burger at Aldo’s Burgers are both adventurous and tasty choices as diverse as the musical acts taking helm at Schell’s Stage.

Dessert: The Vanilla Dream waffle sandwich at Nordic Waffles serves as a perfect closer dessert to wind down your day.

Grandstand Stage

With a max capacity around 17,000 people, the Grandstand is the sports-arena-sized State Fair music venue, and home to the biggest shows the State Fair has to offer. Considering a diverse array of worthy headliner acts ranging from ‘90s alternative nostalgia, to mega-blockbuster pop behemoths, there’s a little something for everyone. Being that the shows take place during the evening, it feels right to pair each show with either a dinner or dessert of choice to help mentally prepare.

Two hummus bowl options
Hummus bowls at Baba's are among the new foods to be offered at the 2022 Minnesota State Fair. They're described as "Beauty and the Buffalo bowl features ranch hummus, buffalo chicken, crumbled blue cheese, scallions, buffalo sauce and buffalo dust, served with pita puffs. The Coco-Nuts bowl features hazelnut chocolate hummus, chocolate chips, hazelnuts, shredded coconut and bananas, served with powdered sugar pita puffs."
Courtesy Minnesota State Fair

Alice In Chains, Bush, Breaking Benjamin, and the L.I.F.E Project (Thursday, August 25)

Dinner of choice: New Mexico Chile Dog Sliders Two Ways at Blue Moon Dine-In-Theater. It’s an even-handed way to exorcise that teenage angst once the adult in you realizes most of the songs you’re most excited to hear were released almost 30 years ago.

Counting Crows & The Wallflowers (Friday, August 26)

Dinner of choice: Earth Sliders or “Meat-Ball” Marinara from French Meadow Bakery & Cafe. These comfort-food picks can help offset the sting of the close of summer, if it has you worried for a long December or a 6th Avenue heartache.

The Current’s Music on a Stick 2022: Portugal. The Man, Manchester Orchestra, and Bad Bad Hats (Saturday, August 27)

Dinner of choice: The Buffalo Chicken Hummus Bowl at Baba’s. It’s not only set to be a hit among patrons, but aesthetically matches The Current’s color palette nicely. Get Pantone on the phone.

Pitbull & Iggy Azalea (Sunday, August 28)

Dinner of choice: Corn on the cob from the Corn Roast, and Tikorokettes at Dino’s Gyros.

Prepare yourself for some corny and cheesy lines you’re about to bear witness to in one sitting. Fine, and go for the deep-fried gator bites at Bayou Bob’s, too.

The Beach Boys, The Temptations, and Tower of Power (Monday, August 29)

Dessert of choice: Birthday Cake Paleta at Hamline Church Dining Hall, Lemon Cookie Tortilla Chips at Blue Moon Dine-In-Theater. Why? Because the Beach Boys should always prompt good vibrations, and great desserts.

REO Speedwagon & Styx (Thursday, September 1)

Dinner of choice: Chicago Dogs. Since REO Speedwagon & Styx hail from Illinois, step on over to the Garden beforehand to get some hot dogs with all the fixings.

Diana Ross & Naturally 7 (Saturday, September 3)

Dinner of choice: Minne Hot Hot from RC’s BBQ, with a Cotton Candy Float from German Root Beer and Popcorn. Feels right for a legendary icon, right? Don’t forget the fries from the Original Fresh Fries stand, either!

A collage featuring outdoor concert, pow wow, baseball, state fair
Minneapolis artist Andrés Guzmán created three original pieces of 89 Days of Summer artwork.
Andrés Guzmán for MPR

This feature is part of The Current’s 89 Days of Summer series, helping you enjoy the best of the season with weekly guides to events, entertainment, and recreation in the Twin Cities.

Clean Water Land & Legacy Amendment
This activity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.