(KMSP) - Total attendance for the 2018 Minnesota State Fair surpassed two million visitors for the first time in Great Minnesota Get-Together history. Five record-breaking days of attendance offset several rainy days, leading to the record-breaking grand total of 2,046,533 for 2018.
The second Saturday of the State Fair is traditionally the most-attended of the 12 days, and this year’s second Saturday delivered a record-breaking 270,426 visitors.
These numbers should come as no surprise to anyone looking for parking at the State Fair or park-and-ride lots, or anyone getting in line for a “Best Of” award-winning Nordic Waffle.
2018 Minnesota State Fair attendance by day
Thursday, Aug. 23: 122,695 (record)
Friday, Aug. 24: 108,059
Saturday, Aug. 25: 222,194 (record)
Sunday, Aug. 26: 184,716
Monday, Aug. 27: 124,438
Tuesday, Aug. 28: 120,209
Wednesday, Aug. 29: 144,940 (record)
Thursday, Aug. 30: 156,764 (record)
Friday, Aug. 31: 179,402
Saturday, Sept. 1: 270,426 (record, all-time single-day record)
Sunday, Sept. 2: 241,201
Monday, Sept. 3 (Labor Day): 171,588
SO MUCH BUTTER: The Minnesota State Fair kicked off with the crowning of Rebekka Paskewitz as the 65th Princess Kay of the Milky Way. Keeping with tradition, her first official duty was 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 opening day.
BUCKET LIST ITEM CHECKED: In the northeast corner of the fairgrounds, along Snelling Avenue, is an area the general public usually doesn’t see. The campground hosts vendors, volunteers and fair employees for two weeks a year. There is also a lottery for members of the public who would like to snag a spot. Staying at the fairgrounds campground was a bucket list item for Chris Runyon.
MEMORIAL BENCHES: The family of Mandy Matula, the 24-year-old Eden Prairie, Minnesota woman whose body was found in a shallow grave in 2013, is marking five years without her in their own unique way: they have purchased a memorial bench at the Minnesota State Fair - one of Mandy’s favorite traditions. The yellow bench - which can be found on the corner of Dan Patch Avenue and Cooper Street - bears Mandy's name and a photo.
For Paul and Gayle Schlueter, their main attraction at the State Fair is an oasis in the sea of people milling around on Machinery Hill. The Schlueters say their son Dan Schlueter was a free spirit who loved the great outdoors, but while he was snowmobiling to work in Savage four years ago, he hit a small tree in Winkel Park near downtown Chaska. He eventually died from his injuries. Dan also loved the fair, so his parents bought a bench with his name and picture on it, to pay tribute to him at one of his favorite events.
ENGAGEMENT ON A STICK: While more than two million people went home with fresh-fried memories of the 2018 Minnesota State Fair, it was an exceptionally memorable fair for Justin Monsrud and Jenelle Kristapovich. Justin said he knew the perfect place to propose.
“We made it a point to come to the fair every single year,” Kristapovich explained. “He taught me how to do the fair right, is what he said when we started dating. And he has exceeded expectations every year.”
This year was no exception.