New look for North Woods section of Minnesota State Fair

The North Woods section of the Minnesota State Fair will have a fresh look for fairgoers this year.

The State Fair brought in the Big Wheel to the North Woods section last year to draw more people on the north side of the fairgrounds. It was so successful organizers brought it back. The attraction is only part of a multi-year makeover to draw more attention to the north end and there’s been some pretty big changes made already.

“We have these huge hangar doors we installed,” said Nate Janousek, the owner of The Hangar. “We put a stage in. We have craft beer for the craft beer crowd.”

At the very north end of the fairgrounds, in the building that used to be the Pet Center, Janousek is feeling the pressure of finishing the final details of a big overhaul.

“The name was the easiest part because it was a hangar, let’s call it a Hangar, that was it,” said Janousek.

The building was originally built in 1909 to house the planes used in stunt shows at the Grandstand, which ended in 1951. The Hangar, a large food and beer hall, is part of the fair’s move to makeover the North Woods.

As pre-fair prep-work now crowds the fairgrounds, the hope is more crowds during the Fair will find a reason to head north.

“It was a little sleepier up here than other areas of the fairgrounds, so in order to move those crowds up to the north, we had to do some changes up here,” said Danielle Dullinger, Minnesota State Fair spokesperson.

The Pet Center has moved to an open-air building. Sweet Martha’s completed work on a permanent north end location. There’s also new bathrooms and a relocated singalong. There are long-term plans to add even more, including an amphitheater. Now, it's only a few days from the start of the Fair when organizers will see if their plans worked. 

“Really think of a way to build a destination for fairgoers and I think that’s what people are going to find we have here,” said Janousek.

The Minnesota State Fair starts on Thursday and runs through Sept. 3.