The Great (University of) Minnesota Get-Together

State Fair

The 12-day run of the Minnesota State Fair is a fantastic opportunity to get to know Minnesota’s one and only land-grant University. While there are hundreds of U of M events to choose from, we’ve highlighted 10 that will leave you informed, entertained, or carrying home freebies. You can see a complete lineup at the U of M State Fair website.

10. Photos & Games with Goldy Gopher

young person taking a photo with Goldy

Fan favorite Goldy Gopher returns to the State Fair this year, bringing nonstop hijinks and smiles to kids and adults alike. Have your photo taken with Goldy each day from noon to 1 p.m.

9. The New and Improved Bell Museum

Goldy posing with mammoth exhibit at Bell

Speaking of Goldy Gopher, the mascot stopped by the new University of Minnesota Bell Museum for a photo-op with the Bell’s wooly mammoth. If you haven’t been to the Bell’s new location yet (it’s amazing), you can get a taste of its offerings, including the museum's traveling ExploraDome planetarium (Aug. 23) and a mini museum experience (Aug. 24-26, 28, and Sept. 3), which includes giveaways and cool woolly mammoth temporary tattoos.

8. The Pride of Minnesota

members of the marching band

Fresh off backing up Justin Timberlake during the 2018 Super Bowl halftime show, the University of Minnesota Marching Band (brought to you by the College of Liberal Arts) will have you on your feet as its members stride, strut, and punctuate the parade on Maroon and Gold Day, Sept. 2, 2-3 p.m. The College of Liberal Arts will also have free giveaways and other fun events throughout the fair--like the Harry Potter Literature Club (Sept. 3)!

7. What Was This Device Used for?

old medical devices

Weird, clever, frightening, and confounding devices from the past intrigue us--even more so when we realize some may still be in use today. Audience members will be invited up onto the stage to inspect these devices and guess what they were used for. The show is curated by the U’s Wangensteen Historical Library of Biology and Medicine. Aug. 23, 10 and 11 a.m.

6. Apple Tasting with the Arboretum

Honeycrisp apples on a branch

Researchers at the University of Minnesota have been developing apple varieties since 1878, including the deliciously popular Honeycrisp and the just-announced First Kiss! Fair-goers will be invited to taste and rate the latest test apples for flavor, appearance, and more, and hear U of M scientist Jack Tillman talk about the University’s legacy of cold-hardy fruit research. Aug. 29, 10-11 a.m.

5. Science!

Physics Force at the Fair

The U of M’s College of Science and Engineering will have a huge presence at the Minnesota State Fair--with 25 unique exhibitors ranging from the ever-popular Physics Force shows (Aug. 24 and 25) to the U of M solar car (Sept. 2-3). One demonstration you surely won’t want to miss is the DaVinci surgical robot, which will perform a live surgery demonstration. Aug. 29.

4. Research + Create Your 3D Avatar

fairgoers exploring U of M research

This year there will be 57(!) ongoing studies in the U of M’s Driven to Discover Building, and U of M researchers are looking for volunteers! One example: Create your 3D Avatar (Sept. 3). Professor Hyun Soo Park is setting up 70 cameras and asking fairgoers to move around on stage for 90 seconds. Park will then create a personal avatar of you!

3. Goldy vs. Cancer Day

Goldy vs cancer day poster

On Aug. 30, it’s all about cancer and finding a cure. The Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota, MHealth, and other U of M departments are teaming up for Goldy vs. Cancer Day, showcasing everything from recent research insights to free skin and oral cancer screenings, as well as great giveaways.

2. It’s not a State Fair without Extension

Extension booth at the fair

No State Fair visit is complete without 4-H and U of M Extension, so if you do go to the “Great Minnesota Get-Together,” don’t miss the many opportunities to connect with these on-the-ground faculty and staff who impact our lives every day. See a full list of Extension’s activities.

1. Big in Greater Minnesota

UMM campus scene

Did you know that the University of Minnesota System has five distinct campuses? Visit the systemwide booth any day of the fair to learn more about U of M campuses in Crookston, Duluth, Morris, Rochester, and the Twin Cities. Gear from all five campuses will be for sale.
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities