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At the Fair! Summer Camp with the Grands!

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Hello, Friends!

Welcome to another week at

Our Grand Lives!

We are so glad you stopped by!

This is our final post in our series,

Summer Camp with the Grands,

so, to celebrate,

we’re sharing a favorite memory and theme

with you all!

Have you ever heard of the

If you are a Minnesota native


have visited our state during the month of August

you, undoubtedly, have heard of it!

The Minnesota State Fair takes place each year during the last two weeks of August

and it is second only to the Texas State Fair,

averaging 2 million visitors each year!

We ♥️ our Minnesota State Fair so much

that we are devoting an entire post to a special recreation of it,

compliments of Laurie and family!

Are you ready to go to the fair?

As you will quickly discover, Laurie and her extended family are very creative

and very determined when it comes to having a good time

and making lasting memories together!

We know that many of our readers also love sharing special moments

with loved ones…


our Littles (the grandkids) and our Middles (also known as our own grown children)

as well as other relatives and/or cherished friends!

Read on for specific ways YOU can use and/or adapt

our ideas to create your own day at the fair!

In Laurie’s own words,

My extended family has always spent a summer get-away to Northern Minnesota together.. It is a time my sister’s family and my family look forward to every summer. In late August 2020 we were scheduled to stay at Grand View Lodge - a favorite destination of ours. The pandemic was still at its peak, and we had some family members with autoimmune issues, so we made the tough decision that 16 people in one house/cabin was just too risky, and we canceled.. We were all soooo disappointed so Sister S and I brainstormed and planned 4 days of safe outdoor activities to take place during the same days as the original trip. Another family-favorite - the Minnesota State Fair -was also canceled that year so I decided we would spend one day at our own backyard “Mini”sota State Fair!

I started the planning process by brainstorming the main and favorite parts of the fair, and imagined how each would fit into a backyard. It took a lot of planning, but it all fell into place. My goal was to have an afternoon where people could move from activity to activity, enjoying what they wanted, so I made signs for each activity and spread them throughout the backyard. There were also many chairs on the patio where people could just sit and visit, while social distancing, of course!

Now we just had to hope for nice weather! 🤞

Below, Laurie provides details about their day at the fair!

She highlights many of the areas and attractions found at the real Minnesota State Fair

and shares how she recreated each to take place in her backyard!

There was a lot to get ready and to set up, but the retired teacher in Laurie

was thrilled to take it on and very excited about this project.

As you read, feel free to pick and choose an activity (or two or three),

or adjust the format to fit your own day…

At the Fair!

♦️ The Creative Activities Building!

This is where the crafters, artists, sewers, builders and quilters get to display their talents at the fair. Lay out a variety of paper, yarn, cardboard tubes, pom poms, writing and drawing utensils, etc., along with scissors and glue and let everyone create a masterpiece! At our fair we followed the theme, What Minnesota Means to Me. However, a theme is not necessary for this project to be successful. When everyone has completed their creations, number each project and display them on blankets on the ground or on tables. Each Fairgoer gets 5 dimes and uses them to vote for their favorites in a small box or envelope by the creation! Everyone gets to keep their winnings!

♦️ Machinery Hill & the Animal Barnyard!

At the real Minnesota State Fair these two areas are favorites for all ages! Invite everyone to bring their favorite tractor (or truck) to display at Machinery Hill.

Bring a favorite stuffed animal to be shown in the Animal Barnyard (a small fenced area). Set out ribbons for Fairgoers to award special prizes to each animal. (Softest Fur, Biggest Eyes, Prettiest, etc.)

As an Added Bonus: These two areas kept Laurie’s two youngest Fairgoers, at ages 1 and 2, very happy and entertained!

♦️ Butter Sculpting at the Dairy Building!

Minnesota produces over 9 billion pounds of milk a year so there’s no surprise that it’s celebrated at the state fair! The hot (or cold) spot to be at the Minnesota State Fair is the Dairy Building where the Dairy Princesses take turns having their likenesses carved into a large slab of butter. To recreate this experience at home, buy inexpensive stick butter (think Dollar Store), set it out with paper plates, plastic knives (adults) and popsicle sticks (Littles). Your Fairgoers then carve their own sculpture!

A Grand Tip!

Store the sticks of butter in a cooler

- but not freezing cold -

as firm butter is much easier to sculpt than warm butter!

♦️ Meet & Greet the Candidates!

There are always many political candidates at a fair so why not have a Voting Booth of your own! (2020 was a BIG election year!) Choose 2 or 3 favorite animals, movie stars, action heroes, etc., and write up a bio about each candidate's platform.

Add red, white and blue decorations to your voting area and make stickers (or use paper with safety pins) for Fairgoers to proudly wear to show who they voted for!

♦️ The Midway & Fair Food!

Two favorite attractions during any visit to the fair are the carnival games and the rides found in the Midway AND all the yummy food options available to you! These two are so beloved that we’ve dedicated an entire section to each below, so keep on reading…

Who doesn’t love a good noisy Midway

filled with carnival games and rides!

Here are a few ideas to get you started!

The Midway Rides!

The Rollercoaster!

Laurie’s backyard had a gentle hill they could take advantage of for this ride! If you do not have a hill, you could tie a rope to the “car” and have someone pull the ride. Use a skateboard (for Middles and Grands) or a wagon (for Littles) to coast down the hill.

The Tilt-a-Whirl!

Take an old spinning chair (like an office chair) and have someone spin you around and around! Our littlest Littles especially love this one!

The FastTrack!

Draw a “track” with sidewalk chalk on your driveway, and have Fairgoers scooter up the track and down.

The Carnival Games!

Laurie did provide prizes for the carnival games (small trinkets and candy at the stations) and each Fairgoer could take one whenever “you succeeded”! Most people were just having fun and almost all the prizes were left over!


Laurie loves SkeeBall and just happened to have this tabletop game that worked perfectly for a fair! You could also toss balls in baskets or boxes for different points. Keep score on a clipboard to see who is your high roller!

Mini Putt!

This game is easy to set up if you have any golfers in your family! You will need a mat or rug if you are playing on grass. Try 2 holes/boxes/cups - a small one for the adults and a bigger one for the Littles.

Duck Pond!

Write a number with a permanent marker on the bottom of each rubber duck. Put your rubber duckies in a big bin or bowl of water. Fairgoers choose a duck, check the number, and that’s the prize you win!

Balloon Pop!

This is a fun one but it definitely needs adult supervision! Blow up balloons and tape them to a board. (Blow up extra balloons and have them nearby to use as/if needed.) Lean the board against a tree on the edge of your yard. (You don’t want people walking behind it). Back up (how far depends on your age), throw a dart and try to pop a balloon. When the board is empty, the host will have to refill it. For safety reasons, after each throw, Fairgoers are responsible for picking up the broken balloon piece up - Laurie had a trash can close by!


Laurie also kept the darts in a bucket up in the tree,

reachable by adults only!

Ring Toss!

Set up bottles of pop, juice, water, lemonade, etc. in a formation and provide plastic rings such as round plastic bracelets. You could also make rings out of pipe cleaners. Toss the rings. If you ring a bottle, you get to keep that drink!

The Atomic Blaster!

You will need a long area for this. Use a Nerf blaster - with a ball or water - and see if you can make it into the basket.

Ping Pong Toss!

Set some vases or glasses into a box. Stand back and try to toss the balls into the vases.

No fair is complete without food, food, FOOD!

We have some great selections!

Get ready to join us as we eat our way through the fair!

😋 Minnesota Wine Tasting & Beer Garden!

These two spots are always fun adult stops at the Great Minnesota Get Together! Recreate the fun for your Middles and Grands by setting up an area to sample your local state’s best!

😋 Sweet Martha Cookies, Mini Donuts & Cheese Curds!

The Minnesota State Fair would not be the same without the Sweet Martha Cookie, Mini Donut or Cheese Curd stands! Often these items can be found in local grocery stores… don’t forget to check the frozen food section!

French fries, popcorn, cotton candy, snow cones and peanuts in the shell are other fun options that you can whip up at home to replicate the delicious fair tastes and smells!

😋 All the Milk You Can Drink!

For over 60 years, Fairgoers at the Minnesota State Fair have been able to enjoy All the Milk You Can Drink for a nominal fee! This bottomless cup of milk originally cost Fairgoers 10 cents and the going rate these days is $2.00! What a bargain!

To enjoy, keep your milk in the refrigerator or cooler, but put a sign out as a reminder to everyone!

😋 Dinner at the Fair!

It’s hard to believe, but in addition to all the treats and snacks, many Fairgoers enjoy dinner at the fair, too! If you want to include a meal as part of your day’s celebration, go for traditional fair food, of course!

Some of our favorite options include the following…

Hot Dogs or Corn Dogs

Chips or French Fries

Grilled Corn on the Cob

Malts to Order

The Amateur Talent Contest!

This year will mark the 50th Annual Talent Contest at the Minnesota State Fair and this event is billed as being almost as legendary as corn dogs and cotton candy! The finals of the Amateur Talent Contest are always held on the last Sunday of the Minnesota State Fair... Yes, your fair will need one, too. 😍

Have everyone register their talent with you so that you can be the emcee and introduce each act.

Laurie recalls... We had performances from everyone - age 1 up to age 65. There were puppy imitations, ball juggling, dancing, singing, jokes, dramatic readings, hula hooping, magic tricks and more!

We suggest scheduling this event as one of the culminating activities

to your day at the fair... it makes a great finale!

Fireworks at Dusk!

During the Minnesota State Fair, when the Grandstand show ends each evening, they put on a fabulous fireworks show! You can end your day at the fair the same way… using sparklers!


This event was planned for and took place over an entire day!

Your plans can be as elaborate or as simple as you would like…

You can plan your time out by focusing on one area

such as games or food and then do the talent show, too.

However you choose to celebrate a day at the fair,

it’s a GREAT way to bring your family together,


to celebrate the end of summer with your Littles!

Over the course of the summer,

we’ve had such fun sharing weekly themes with our readers

as part of our series,

Summer Camp with the Grands!

Our goal was to provide weekly themes filled with

Grand Activities & Adventures

that can be easily adapted to meet the varying ages, abilities and interests

of your Littles (your grandkids or children)!

Today is our last post of the summer


if you find yourself needing an idea or two to use with Littles

you’ll be caring for during these last weeks of summer,

before the new school year begins,

please feel free to check out any or all of our last ten posts,

including this one - At the Fair!

We are going to take a break from the blogging world

during the next few weeks

before gearing up for fall and all it brings!

We look forward to returning in September

with new ideas and new content

that celebrates


In the meantime, please follow us on

We’ll be adding new activities and adventures several times each week,

so be sure to check us out!

You can also find us on Pinterest where we’ve linked

many of the posts featured here!

YES, the Great Minnesota Get Together

is certainly a special way to spend a memorable time with loved ones.

Yet, we know that ANY time we spend with those we love

creates memories that our hearts hold forever!

❤️ We are delighted to join these link up parties and blog hops this week:


Aug 29, 2023

I so enjoyed virtually journeying with you guys and the grands for summer camp this summer.

Thanks bunches for sharing with Sweet Tea & Friends this month dear friends.

Our Grand Lives
Aug 31, 2023
Replying to

Awww! Thank YOU, Paula... and thanks for the opportunity to share with Sweet Tea & Friends each month! 💕

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