FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. — Public lands — owned by you, managed by the DNR.
That’s the theme for this year’s Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ State Fair exhibit, which runs Aug. 22 to Sept. 2 in Falcon Heights.
“We know Minnesotans truly value public lands for recreation, conservation and their economic benefits,” said Dawn Flinn, who helps coordinate the DNR exhibits. “Our exhibit is a great way for us to spread the word about how interesting, important and exciting it is to experience nature on public lands near you.”
The DNR’s iconic State Fair log building opened 85 years ago. Each year, the park-like venue provides approximately 500,000 visitors the opportunity to experience the outdoors in the midst of carnival rides and food stands.
“It’s a popular state fair landmark, meeting place and must-visit destination that has helped generations of people create life-long memories,” Flinn said.
The DNR main building is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day of the fair.
The new Legacy Amendment exhibit in the DNR building features displays about Legacy-funded parks and trails projects. The exhibit includes a game that allows visitors to tell the DNR how they would choose to spend Legacy dollars, an award-winning website that lets people search state and regional parks and trails and a children’s play area.
The 50,000-gallon fish pond is one of the fair’s most popular attractions, and is stocked with more than three dozen fish species native to Minnesota lakes and rivers. Popular species include paddlefish, which are native to the St. Croix and lower Mississippi rivers, and lake sturgeon, which are found in the Minnesota, Mississippi, St. Croix and Rainy rivers.
DNR staff will conduct presentations at the fish pond every quarter to the hour, from 9:45 a.m. to 6:45 p.m.
Five large aquariums in the main building contain fish in representative habitat, including stream trout from southeast Minnesota, fish of the St. Croix River, and a variety of species from southern, central and northern Minnesota lakes. The displays are built low to the ground to put kids at eye level with fish, turtles and other animals.
Built to educate visitors about wildfire prevention in 1966, the 65-foot tower was closed in 1978 due to safety concerns. It was repaired and reopened in 2006, and remains the best way way to get a birds-eye view of the fairgrounds.
Open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., weather permitting.
State Park camper cabin
Minnesota state parks and recreational areas feature more than 90 camper cabins that are available for rent. They provide a camping experience with the comfort of walls and a roof — some even provide electricity and wheelchair access. The fairgrounds cabin features two sets of bunk beds and accommodates up to six people.
DNR staff will be available to answer questions about cabin camping from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
DNR forestry display
Three interactive exhibits that opened in 2017 allow visitors to imagine what it’s like to step into a native Minnesota forest. Informational displays cover a variety of forestry topics, including: stewardship, urban trees, forest products and the effect of climate change on the state’s forest lands.
The forestry display is located in the main DNR building and is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Smokey Bear is celebrating 75 years of reminding children and their parents about the dangers of wildfires.
Smokey Bear’s birthday party will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 23, on the DNR stage. A puppet show follows at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., also on the DNR stage.
Smokey will also make daily appearances at DNR Park at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Wall of Shame trailer
Minnesota’s Turn in Poachers program provides cash rewards for tips leading to the arrest of wildlife violators. The Wall of Shame trailer features animal mounts along with stories about how they were illegally harvested.
The display is located on the south side of the main DNR building.
Located in the main DNR building, this interactive exhibit educates visitors about Minnesota wildlife species and their habitat. Special sound and lighting effects simulate the experience of moving from day to night and through the four seasons, as visitors walk through the display.
Master naturalist volunteers will be on hand to answer wildlife questions from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Invasive species exhibit
Interactive displays illustrate how to prevent the introduction and spread of invasive species in Minnesota. Clean, drain and dry is the prescription for aquatic invasives, while play, clean and go are the best practices for terrestrial invaders.
The exhibit also features samples of invasive plants and animals, along with information about the effects they have on native species. DNR staff and volunteers will be on hand to answer questions from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day.
For a full schedule of events, visit mndnr.gov/events/statefair/schedules.html.