Party decks and concessions galore: Huge upgrades arrive at State Fair Grandstand

Party decks and concessions galore: Huge upgrades arrive at State Fair Grandstand

Party decks and concessions galore: Huge upgrades arrive at State Fair Grandstand

The Minnesota State Fair is unveiling major changes to the Grandstand area, which they believe will enhance the concert experience at the fair.

“We’re told this is the biggest privately funded project ever on the fairgrounds, so it’s a big change,” said Jake Severson, co-owner of Bandstand Concessions, the food and beverage operator behind the massive renovation.

This is the first project for Bandstand Concessions, a new Minnesota-based company founded by Severson and Ryan Caulfield.

Caulfield is a local chef who specializes in concessions for mass events, while Severson has designed and installed beer systems for breweries across the metro.

KSTP’s full Minnesota State Fair coverage

When they learned the previous food and beverage operator for the Grandstand was retiring, they submitted a proposal to revamp the entire concessions footprint and system, which they said is a multi-million-dollar investment.

Previously, empty lots on either side of the Grandstand stage were set up with tents serving food and drinks.

In February, they broke ground on five buildings, which are new permanent structures for merchandise and concessions.

State Fair organizers said it marks the biggest change to the Grandstand area in decades.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS was the first TV station to get a full behind-the-scenes tour of the renovations.

It includes 101 points of service where concert-goers can make purchases, compared to 46 last year, which they hope will make service faster and lines shorter.

“We were really intentional about making sure the speed of service was faster,” Caulfield said. “We didn’t want people to sacrifice their concert experience waiting in line for food.”

The new buildings also feature four full kitchens, instead of the mobile kitchens used in years past.

They also have 600 beer taps, with 22 miles of tubing running from large cooler rooms full of kegs.

“We have 600 beer lines, which is the second-largest beer system in the country, second only to Mercedes-Benz Stadium where the Atlanta Falcons play,” Caulfield said.

Bandstand Concessions also put together a new menu for the Grandstand.

“Jake and I were really committed to partnering with Minnesota companies. You’ll see that in our beer list and some of our food as well. For instance, the ‘Brucy Lucy’ bratwurst we have is stuffed with cheese curds, which we feel is a nod of the hat to the State Fair,” Caulfield said. 

Concessions in the Grandstand area will accept credit cards this year, whereas it used to be cash only.

On top of two of the new buildings, there are also new “party decks” where fans can buy a special ticket for a rooftop concert experience.

Each party deck will hold up to 300 people and offers access to an exclusive bar and bathroom.

There are cocktail tables on the party decks but no seating.

“The party decks are a unique space,” Caulfield said. “Over here in this area, with the twinkle lights, the ambiance, the feel, the magic with the Ferris wheel in the background, it’s going to be a pretty cool experience.”

Even if a show is technically sold out, organizers said there may still be party deck tickets available.

State Fair organizers told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS they are eager to see the “new and improved” Grandstand come to life this week.

“We like to think we are one of the top venues in the state but we really think this elevates us,” said Danielle Dullinger, food and beverage manager of the Minnesota State Fair.

Check the State Fair website for more information on the Grandstand concert series or to buy tickets for this year’s shows.