How to enjoy the “Best” of the Minnesota State Fair – even after the fair closes its doors

photo courtesy of Nordic Waffles

Well, the great Minnesota State Fair is officially done, bringing on the unofficial end of summer. They packed up the cheese curds, dismantled the ferris wheel, and herded all the cows and horses back to their barns.

If you’re longing for more fair fun, however, and clinging to the last days of summer, you’re in luck: You can still experience the best of the fair well into the fall and winter months. And the greatest part? You won’t have to deal with the crowds, long lines, entrance fees, or inexplicably-weird smells.

Minnesota State Fair “Best” Awards

Each year Minnesota State Fair organizers nominate exhibitors, vendors, attraction operators, and concessionaires for the “2018 Best Awards.” A committee then chooses the winners based on those who embody the following characteristics:

  • Provide exceptional, efficient customer service and an outstanding experience for fair guests.
  • Knowledgeable staff with positive attitudes who are courteous, thoughtful and professional.
  • An amazing visual presentation and positive image.
  • Present a premium quality product/service.
  • Offer great value.

The twelve winners announced this year included rides like the Haunted Castle Dark Ride and the Big Bamboo Fun House which, unfortunately, you can only enjoy during the run of the fair. However, here are a few of the “2018 Best Award” winners who operate all year long so you can have the ‘best of’ fair experience long after the fairgrounds clear out.

Nordic Waffles

Minnesota State Fair Best Awards, Twin Cities Agenda
photo courtesy of Nordic Waffles

To say these delicious waffles were wildly popular at this year’s fair is a gross understatement. The line to get a taste of their sweet and savory waffles literally winded all around the Nordic Waffle booth with an average wait time of 30 to 45 minutes. Those are some good waffles.

Nordic Waffle founder Stine Aasland perfected her waffle recipe and brought the goodness to the States with her Cinna-Sugar Butter Waffle, Berries and Cream, Turkey Chipotle Club, S’More Waffle, and more. And if you missed out at the fair or simply want another taste you can find Nordic Waffles sold all around the state. A few locations right in the Twin Cities include: Nokomis Beach Coffee, Segue Cafe, Corner Coffee Uptown, Ambrosia Coffee, and Sister’s Sludge Coffee. For the complete list of locations click here.

The Anchor Coffee House

Minnesota State Fair Best Awards, Twin Cities Agenda
photo courtesy of The Anchor Coffee House

Not only a winner of a 2018 Best Award, this vendor was also a fair favorite keeping all fairgoers fully caffeinated and satiated with tasty treats. Among the popular drinks were the cold brews like the nitro cold caramel cream coffee, cold brew chocolate cream, and the cold brew vanilla cream. And after you grab your coffee it’s nearly impossible to resist Anchor House’s gluten-free banana chocolate chip muffins and stroopwafels (a thin waffle filled with caramel).

So if you missed this gem at the State Fair you can still enjoy their freshly-roasted coffee and their full menu of soups, sandwiches, baked goods, and salads with their mobile coffee shop or at their permanent location in Downtown White Bear Lake.

The Vintage Tin

Minnesota State Fair Best Awards, Twin Cities Agenda
photo courtesy of The Vintage Tin

If you’re looking for original and one-of-kind pieces, The Vintage Tin will be your new favorite place. Run by a husband and wife team, the two find old and forgotten pieces at garage sales, antique stores, and auctions and upscale and turn these items into new treasures.

One of their most popular items are cool-looking retro and vintage bluetooth suitcase speakers. Other items include furniture made of reclaimed farm and auto parts, gas and oil can lamps, metal horseshoe art and decor, tractor seat bar stools, railroad spike art, and license plate coat racks. And while The Vintage Tin doesn’t have a brick-and-mortar store you can browse and purchase their unique products online or at local markets.

With these Minnesota State Fair favorites you can now head into fall while still holding on to a taste of summer and relive some of the magic of the fair.

Here are all the “2018 Best Awards” winners:

  • The Anchor Coffee House
  • Big Bamboo Fun House
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota
  • The Hangar
  • Haunted Castle Dark Ride
  • Minnesota United FC
  • Nordic Waffles
  • Paddle North
  • Rainbow Midwest Inc.
  • The Vintage Tin
  • Whatnot Boutique
  • Whopper Water

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