Rochester MN Guide to the Olmsted County Fair

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Walking around the fairgrounds with a sticky-sweet, warm bag of freshly made mini-donuts in hand, there’s nothing quite like a day at the Olmsted County Fair. The anticipation and excitement that the fair brings, from the aromas of the food vendors and stands to the shouts of excitement from kids on the merry-go-round, is something that has truly become a memorable part of summer.

Use this guide to learn the ins and outs and prepare for a fun day (or night!) at the Olmsted County Free Fair!

When to Go

The 2021 Olmsted County Fair Dates are Monday, July 26th – Sunday, August 1st.   Below we’ve outlined the times that each building and area are open. While the fair officially opens on Monday the 26th, most attractions get into full swing by Tuesday evening.  You can plan accordingly by using the hours below:

Commercial Buildings Hours:
Open to the Public:
Tuesday through Saturday: 11 AM to 9 PM  // Sunday: 11 AM – 6 PM

Food Vendor Hours:
Tuesday: 12 PM – 10 PM // Wednesday – Saturday: 11 AM – 10 PM // Sunday: 11 AM – 6 PM
(Food vendors may be open extra hours on Monday and Tuesday after 10 pm)

Miracle of Birth Center Hours:
Monday: 4 PM – 9 PM // Tuesday – Saturday: 9 AM – 9 PM

Carnival/Midway Hours:
Tuesday: 5 PM – 11 PM // Wednesday – Friday: 1 PM – 11 PM // Saturday: 10 AM – 11 PM // Sunday: 12 PM – 6 pm


Things to Do (for Adults!)

Free Live Music Events

Starting Tuesday evening, you can come out to the Free Stage for free live music concerts from 7 pm-11 pm! Grab your friends (and some fair food) and spend the evening dancing and singing together! For the full line-up, check here!

Grandstand Entertainment

If you’re looking for big-ticket entertainment, bull riding, auto-cross, demo derbies, and more…look no further than the Grandstand Line-up!  This year, big names like Gear Daddies and Six Mile Grove will be at the Olmsted County Fair. Fiesta Fest will be Thursday, July 29th at 6 pm where a variety of bands playing various Mexican Genres. The Great Frontier Bull Riding Show will be held on Friday, July 30th at 7:00.  For all show and grandstand entertainment details and to purchase tickets visit the Grandstand schedule page!

Things to Do (for Kids!)

Miracle of Birth Center

For a truly unforgettable experience (and a great chance for some summer education), you have to check out the Miracle of Birth Center. Kids will have the opportunity to see baby animals: piglets, calves, lambs, bunnies, chicks, and more!  Like the AgStar Miracle of Birth Center Facebook page to find out when they anticipate the mama animals will give birth!  If you’re lucky, you’ll be there to witness the actual Miracle of Life (and be prepared for 100 questions afterward)!olmsted county fair, rochester mn, fairgrounds, fair, fair food, mini donuts, roch mn, things to do

4-H Buildings

4-H has a large presence at the Olmsted County Fair.  One of the most fun ways to see and learn about 4-H is to visit the animal buildings.  This is where 4-H students have the opportunity to show off the animals they keep and raise.  Keep in mind that each 4-H animal area has a 4-H exhibitor monitoring the animals.  If not busy tending to the animals, they are usually happy to introduce you and your children to their animal(s) and answer any questions you might have!

Conservation and Wildlife Building

The DNR fish will be returning to the Conservation and Wildlife building across the street from the midway!  This is a popular exhibit – the kids are sure to love it.  Quarry Hill will be bringing snakes on Friday, July 30thth at 2 pm.  Check out the full calendar of events for the Conservation and Wildlife Building here.


Carnival and Midway

What’s a fair without the rides?!  The Olmsted County Free Fair has so much to offer for all ages on the midway.  From bumper cars to the merry-go-round, to even greater thrill-seeking rides! Try your hand at some of the carnival games: maybe you’ll end up the brand new owner of a teddy bear the size of your living room!  For all ticket information, check the ticket page.

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Consider printing out this scavenger hunt for even more fun at the fair! 

Scavenger Hunt

We’ve prepared a fun scavenger hunt that you can do with your kids as you walk around and enjoy the fair!  It’s full of fun experiences and will help you get the best out of the fair with kids. Click the link below the image to download!

>>>DOWNLOAD HERE – Olmsted County Fair Scavenger Hunt<<<

What to Eat

The Olmsted County Free Fair offers up all those wonderful, traditional fair foods that we’ve all grown to love.  There is no shortage of mini-donuts, cotton candy, corn dogs, cheese curds, and ice cream.  In addition to these well-loved foods are some more non-traditional options such as turkey legs, spiral fries, and freshly squeezed lemonade.  Get your favorites and then try something new!  For complete food vendor information, visit the Food Vendor page here.

How to Get There and Where to Park

The Olmsted County Fairgrounds is conveniently located on South Broadway just over a mile from downtown Rochester.  Parking is available for $5 dollars a day or $20/week.  If you’d like to save some money (for that extra bag of mini donuts), consider street parking in some of the neighborhoods to the west of the fair.  You’ll have to cross very busy Broadway, but there is a crosswalk and stoplight.  At busier times there is also generally a traffic officer.  What you do not want to do is park in the business parking lots to the west of the fairgrounds.  This is a quick way to get towed!

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Tips and Tricks

  • Looking for something cool to drink?  Head to the Olmsted County Dairy Association milk stand (near the Miracle of Birth Center) where you can purchase a 16-ounce milk (chocolate, white or mixed) for $1.
  • The 4-H animal pens need to be cleaned out by 10 AM every day.  For the “freshest” fair experience, consider visiting during this time!
  • You might not want to give up the $5 for parking, but it is right on-site and a short walk.  It’s worth it for the convenience alone especially if you have small children or are pushing a stroller.
  • If you are visiting the fair with children, make sure you designate a meet-up spot in case you become separated.  It is also a good idea to stash your phone number somewhere on your child.  In a pocket or written on the back of a hand, this can be most helpful in returning your child to you quickly.
  • Consider visiting during non-peak hours: the morning right when it opens or after lunch.  The busiest times will be between 5 PM – 8 PM every night.

Enjoy – and save some mini donuts for us!

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Rochester Mom is written by and for moms who live in the Rochester MN area. We strive to connect local moms by sharing personal experiences, fun ideas and useful information as well as promoting local businesses and seeking to connect moms both on and offline.


  1. Don’t forget to check out the Conservation/Wildlife building down by the midway. The DNR fish will be returning to the building! In addition there will be presentations throughout the week. Olmsted County parks, Whitewater State Park and Quarry Hill will be bringing snakes and birds. On Friday the Whitewater Watershed Lego model will be on display with a build your own watershed station. Watch for schedules posted around the fairgrounds.

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