After nearly $18M in losses, Minnesota State Fair increases 2022 admission price

Minnesota State Fair officials announced this weekend a $1 per ticket price increase and shorter hours for the 2022 fair.

The announcement followed the conclusion of the 163rd annual meeting of the Minnesota State Fair Agricultural Society. Starting in 2022, the entry fee for an adult will be $17. Children’s admission (ages 5-12) and senior admission prices will also increase by one dollar to $15.

"We need to keep the doors open we need to keep our operation going," said Jerry Hammer, general manager for the Minnesota State Fair.

Hammer says, in 2020, when the fair did not take place because of COVID19, they experienced a $16.5 million loss. In 2021, when the fair was held but attendance was about half of what it was in 2019, Hammer says they saw another $1.3 million in losses.

The last time fair officials increased the cost of admission was in 2019 when the price also went up by a dollar. Even then, Hammer says ticket prices were lower than what it cost to put on the fair per person.

"In a good year, when attendance was like in 2018, 2019, the cost of producing the fair for each individual that attended the fair was three or four dollars more than the admission price, so basically we subsidized our own admission tickets," Hammer said.

He says they made up for that loss by increasing food percentage, midway ride percentage, securing more sponsorships and foundation contributions. He says on a non-pandemic year, they also make revenue off of the 200 or so events that rent out space on the fairgrounds. Over the last two years though, they’ve missed out on much of that revenue.

Another change coming in 2022: The fair will be open an hour later and close an hour earlier than it has in previous years. During the first 11 days of the fair’s run, it will be open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. No longer opening at 6 a.m. and closing at midnight. On Labor Day, fair hours will be 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

"The reality is very few people are here that early in the day and nobody is around that late at night," Hammer said.

In 2020 and 2021, state fair officials put on other events to keep people involved with the fair including a drive-through experience and a mini walk-through fair on Memorial Day weekend.

"Based on the popularity we’re looking at it. We’re not quite sure at this point but you may see that type of event in the months to come," Hammer said.

Overall, he says he’s optimistic about a more normal-feeling State Fair in 2022.

"A lot of people, promoters, entertainment agents, everybody, they’re looking at a much better spring and summer for ’22," Hammer said.