Updated: 08/21/2014 8:03 PM
Created: 08/21/2014 6:14 AM KSTP.com
By: Jennie Olson
It was a steamy afternoon on day one of the Minnesota State Fair. The day started with heavy rain in the morning, but the weather dried up for fairgoers.
Temperatures approached 90 degrees Thursday afternoon. Chief Meteorologist Dave Dahl said the hot and sticky weather will stick around.
Let the Fun Begin!
From food to animal prep, everyone has been working hard to make sure they are ready for the 12-day stretch of the Minnesota State Fair, which opened Thursday morning.
This year, there are 300 licensed food vendors with about 500 different types of food. Twenty-eight new dishes will be rolled out, including bacon-wrapped turkey legs, beer gelato, and blue cheese and corn fritz.
The fair is also a great time to shop 'til you drop; between 1,500 and 1,600 commercial exhibitors will be at the fair. See all of the new attractions here.
Getting to the Fair
New this year, the renovated Gate 16 will serve as a grand entrance to the fairgrounds. A projected one-third of the crowd is expected to enter and exit through that gate, which is also right next to the new transit hub.
The transit hub will be the designated drop-off and pick-up zone for anyone taking Metro Transit or the park-and-ride system.
"The idea of this is to relieve bottleneck," Minnesota State Fair General Manager Jerry Hammer said.
Hammer hopes the renovations and the addition of the Green Line light rail will ease congestion along Como Avenue on the south side of the fairgrounds. In the past, buses shared that space with cars, pedestrians and livestock trailers.
Hammer expects the horseshoe-shaped transit hub to reduce the number of buses turning across busy intersections and crosswalks.
If you’re looking for entertainment Thursday night, country music star Toby Keith performs at the Grandstand. Tickets are still available and range from $49-$59. Colt Ford opens the show, which starts at 7:30 p.m.
Princess Kay of the Milky Way
Jeni Haler, a 19-year-old college student from Norwood Young America, representing Carver County, was crowned the 61st Princess Kay of the Milky Way in an evening ceremony at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds on Wednesday.
Haler will serve as the official goodwill ambassador for more than 3,600 Minnesota dairy farm families. Jeni is the daughter of Rick Haler and Connie Helget Haasken and attends the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, where she double majors in animal science and Spanish/Portuguese studies.
Twelve county dairy princesses from throughout Minnesota competed for the Princess Kay of the Milky Way title. Audrey Lane of Prior Lake, representing Scott County, and Sabrina Ley of Belgrade, representing Stearns County, were selected as runners-up. Gabriella Sorg of Hastings, representing Dakota County, was named Miss Congeniality. Scholarships were awarded to Annie Culbertson of Pine Island, representing Olmsted County; Sarah Post of Chandler, representing Murray County; and Lane.
Haler’s first official duty as Princess Kay will be to sit in a rotating cooler in the Dairy Building for nearly six hours to have her likeness sculpted in a 90-pound block of butter on the opening day of the Minnesota State Fair. Each finalist will also have her likeness carved in butter during the fair. This year marks butter sculptor Linda Christensen’s 43rd year carving the Princess Kay of the Milky Way winner and finalists at the Minnesota State Fair.
KSTP at the Fair
You can find KSTP near the corner of Chambers Street and Carnes Avenue, just south of the Grandstand. We’ll be on air throughout the fair.
The Minnesota State Fair runs through Labor Day, the tickets can be purchased at the fairgrounds. If you’re looking to catch a deal at the fair, “Thrifty Thursday” is the day to do it. Today, anyone 13 years and older can get into the fair for $11. Kids ages 5-8 get in for $8, and kids under 5 are free.