Many of the event’s most popular features are back; advance tickets available at the fair office

After the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the Dakota County Fair in 2020, the seven-days of fun will return Aug. 9-15 at the Dakota County Fairgrounds in Farmington.

Fair organizers are expecting high attendance this year as people are anxious to get out and participate in such community building events where they can see their friends and neighbors in a fun setting.

Other reasons fair organizers are optimistic about attendance is that this year’s fair will not charge individual gate admission. There are still costs for on-site parking ($10 per vehicle daily or $30 per vehicle for the week) along with ticket prices for grandstand events and the carnival. Those tickets can be purchased in advance at the fair box office.

While attendance may be high, one of the advantages of the Dakota County Fair is that there is ample space among the 330-plus acre site to spread out. Typically people don’t have to stand in line too long to buy their favorite food item or be thrilled by a midway ride.

Following is a roundup of activities and events at the 2021 fair.

Grandstand events typically draw the largest crowds, and this year should be no different.

This year’s lineup ranges from the thunderous to the tame.

The grandstand will be bumping with three nights of demolition derby Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings.

The Thursday night bill includes Youth Compact, Limo, 80s Bolt & Chain and Mighty Minis.

Friday night’s slate is for Lawn Mowers, Limited Trucks, Mighty Minis (FWD van only), 80s Bolt & Chain and Stock Midsize.

Saturday night will feature Weld Cars, 80s Light Build, Midsize Limited Weld, Mighty Mini and Minnesota Classic.

The classic derby includes any year of vehicle but no Imperials or Suicide Lincolns, according to the few pages of rules for the class.

The class is described as being for cars that one may think of crushing due to rust or damage. Organizers say that this is an honest builder’s class as fresh cars are preferred and used cars may not repair damage.

All derby night ticket prices are $15 for adults, $6 for children 6-12 and free for children 5 and under. Pit passes cost $25 and are for ages 16 and up.

There are several pages of rules for the demolition derby, so people can expect drivers to have put in a lot of time to prepare their vehicles and the action to be intense.

The grandstand will also feature Kids Mutton Busting and the Barrel Races, which are free to attend Aug. 10.

Bulls ‘N’ Barrels will take over on Aug. 11. Cost to attend is $15 for adults, $6 for children 6-12 and free for children 5 and under.

Tickets are available at the Dakota County Fair box office in Ahlberg Hall on the Fairgrounds, 4008 220th St. W. Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The ticket office will be open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 7, and Sunday, Aug. 8.

Carnival

The carnival is always a big hit with young and old alike.

Carnival wristbands cost $25 for advanced sale, ($30 during the fair) and are good for one of the following days/times: Tuesday, Aug. 10, 6-10 p.m.; Thursday, Aug. 12, noon to 5 p.m.; Friday, Aug. 13, noon to 5 p.m.; and Sunday, Aug. 15, noon to closing.

Passport to Fun costs $55 for advanced sale ($65.00 during the fair) and is good for unlimited rides all seven days of the fair. Advance sale is at the ticket office.

Music

Music will be pouring out of the Beer Garden and Craft Beer Stage every night and during the afternoon on most days.

The lineup at the Craft Beer Stage includes:

Bryan Anderson, Vinnie Rose, Ben Aaron, Jim McGowan, St. Paul Mudsteppers, Chad Johnson, Sweet Keys Dueling Pianos, Dan Ferstenou, Freddie Justice: The Planet’s Funniest Hypnotist, Old Country Boys, and Wayne & the Boys.

Check the schedule in this section for dates and times.

The Beer Garden Stage includes the bigger acts but also some carry overs from the Craft Beer Stage.

The acts include Wayne & the Boys, Bruce Burniece, Mojo Monks, Richie Yurkovich & Polkarioty, the Johnny Holm Band, Jim McGowan, Dennis McGovern, Good For Gary, Denny Olsen, The Brassholes, Shane Martin Band and Stillwater Avenue.

Following is some information about the headlining bands.

Thursday – Johnny Holm and his bandmates have been rockin’ the Upper Midwest with shows that include plenty of covers of good-time party tunes from the likes of Jimmy Buffet, Van Morrison, the Beatles and many more. More is at http://www.johnnyholm.com.

Friday - Variety pack top 40 cover band Good for Gary will provide the musical backdrop on Friday night with songs from the likes of Iggy Azalea, Bruno Mars, Taylor Swift and Macklemore. More is at goodforgary.com.

Saturday – The Shane Martin Band is a modern country rock outfit that has shared the stage with numerous national acts. Martin’s concerts are a high energy good time that gets crowds on their feet dancing, singing along.

He was a top five finalist in the 2012 Texaco Country Showdown where he competed for “Best New Act in Country Music” at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium (hosted by LeAnn Rimes). More is at https://shanemartin.com.

Fiddle contest

The sixth annual Fiddle Contest will start at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 14, at the Dakota City Pavilion.

It includes the divisions of Junior, Young Adult, Adult, and Open.

Contestants will play two numbers, a waltz and a hoe-down or tune of their choice. Prize money ranges from $50 to $150 for first-place finishes.

A Fiddle Trick and Fancy Fiddling class for all ages will be held with first through third place prizes to be determined.

Special days

The fair is filled with special days that include discounts and events geared toward a theme.The following special days are slated during the fair:

Kids Day - Tuesday, Aug. 10

Coloring Contest – Bring a completed picture downloaded from dakotacountyfair.org/p/about/special-days to Ahlberg Hall/Fair Office by noon, for judging. Judging will take place Tuesday night, and ribbons will be posted on Wednesday.

People can sign up online by July 30 at the link above or call 651-463-8818 for Children’s Barnyard Tours, which will start at 10 a.m. and go every 30 minutes until 6:30 p.m.

Check the events schedule for more Kids Day activities.

Military Day - Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021

To celebrate Military Day, Support Our Troops Haunted House has purchased 400 rodeo tickets to give to military personnel and their immediate family for the 7 p.m. Aug. 11 Bulls ‘n’ Barrels Rodeo. Tickets will be handed out on a first come first serve basis at the fair Information Booth, starting at 2 p.m. Wednesday. Some form of “proof of service” is required. After 5:30 p.m. tickets may be picked up in a booth marked Military Tickets outside the grandstand. Direct questions to Germaine Beyl at 651-895-2450.

Senior Day - Thursday, Aug. 12

Public Safety Day - Saturday, Aug. 14,

Fair hours, one-time events and much more are listed in the Schedule of Events starting on Page 4.

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