Dakota County Fair 2017: Get ready to make memories

Fair includes more grandstand events, music, and carnival rides than you can shake a pork chop on a stick at

The Dakota County Fair returns for another week of making memories for scores of people across the south metro and beyond.

The fair means so many different things to different people. It is the culmination of a summer or even a lifetime of work in raising animals or working to perfect an apple pie.

It’s the place where family and friends gather to have a good time eating food, enjoying a spin on a ride, trying their luck at a game or chance, listening to music or traveling back in time to around the 1900s at Dakota City.

One can have pretty much any experience they would like to at the fair from the laid back to the energetic.

Even though about 150,000 people attend the fair each year, usually one doesn’t have to stand in line too long for a hot dog or a pork chop-on-a-stick, and the sightlines for the attractions and shows are usually excellent.

Parking is right on site and getting around the fair is easy with the occasional help from a map available at the entrance.

Since the fair means so many things to different people its hard to say what this year’s highlights are, but what follows is a roundup of activities and events.

The tour starts with Grandstand events that typically draw the largest crowds to the fair.

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 fair’s Thursday night double bill includes an Outlaw Derby and the Minnesota Classic Demolition Derby.

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.

Thursday night is just the beginning of the carnage expected when several cars and trucks will be demolished Friday and Saturday for the traditional derby. All derby night ticket prices are $12 for adults, $6 for children 6-12 and free for children 5 and under.

That slate includes:

Friday, Aug. 11

Full-Size Weld, Mid-Size, Stock Trucks, Compacts, CW-80’s Chain & Go

Saturday, Aug. 12

Full-Size Weld, Mighty Minis, Mid-size, CW-80’s Chain & Go, Weld Trucks, Lawnmowers

There are 18 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 Dairyland Donkey Races, which are fee to attend, Aug. 7; Lawnmower Races, $6 for adults and free for children under 12, Aug. 8; and the Monster Truck Racing & Thrill Show, $12 for adults, $6 for children 6-12 and free for children 5 and under, Aug. 9.


Music will be pouring out of the beer garden nearly every night and during the afternoon on most days as two stages will be set up in the area.

The lineup includes:

Monday, Aug. 7

Gravel Roads Band, 7:30-10:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Aug. 8

Talent Contest 6 p.m., Tim Sigler 8-11 p.m.

Wednesday, Aug. 9

Wayne and the Boys 4-7 p.m. and 4onthefloor 8-11 p.m.

Thursday, Aug. 10

Wendinger Band 4-7 p.m. and Johnny Holm Band 8:30 p.m.-12 a.m.

Friday, Aug. 11

Wayne and the Boys 4-7 p.m. and Good for Gary 8:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m.

Saturday, Aug. 12

A Hard Day’s Night- The Beatles cover band 1-4 p.m., Fiddle Contest 2-4 p.m., Talent Contest Finals 5 p.m. and Red Letter Band 8 p.m.-12 a.m.

Sunday, Aug. 13

Wayne and the Boys 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and Gravel Roads Band 3-6 p.m.

Following is some information about the headling band each night starting with Tuesday’s slated performance by Tim Sigler.

Tim Sigler

With nearly 200 shows per year and the largest country-rock song list in the region, Sigler has become a crowd favorite among country fans throughout the upper Midwest.

A featured performer at festivals like Country Fest, Country Jam, Winstock, Grand Old Day, and countless bars across the Midwest, Sigler and his band cover tunes from such artists as Erich Church, George Strait, Garth Brooks, Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Kenny Chesney and Johnny Cash.

More is at timsigler.com.

The headliner for Wednesday, 4onthefloor, has recently released its third record, “All In.” The band has roots in blues and the immediacy of post-pop punk with hooks and sing-a-longs one would find in the best road trip anthems.

The group performs songs that are quick and energetic, influenced by Neil Young, the Guess Who, Led Zeppelin, and modern variations of rock ’n’ roll like Brand New, Lucero, and the Black Keys.

More is at http://www.4otf.com.

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.

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

The Red Letter Band, which plays Saturday night, covers a variety of classic country hits and original material that includes singles that have reached the top of the Inspirational Country Music charts out of Nashville.

The group has been nominated for 2016 Band of the Year and New Artist of the Year by the Inspirational Country Music Association.

More about the band is at http://www.redletterband.com.

The fourth annual Fiddle Contest will start at 2 p.m. Saturday.

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. People won’t see any trick or fancy fiddling, which will disqualify a contestant. Prize money ranges from $25 to $150 for first-place finishes.


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

People can purchase wristbands for $25, which are good for one of the following days/times:

Tuesday, Aug. 8 – 7 p.m. to closing

Thursday, Aug. 10 – noon to 5 p.m.

Friday, Aug. 11 – noon to 5 p.m.

Sunday, Aug. 13 – noon to closing.

People can purchase a Passport to Fun for $50 before noon Monday, Aug. 7, which is good for free admission and unlimited rides all seven days of the fair.

The Passport to Fun costs $60 after noon Monday, Aug. 7.

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 Dakota County Fair from Aug. 7-13 at the Dakota County Fairgrounds in Farmington:

• Free Admission Day — Monday, Aug. 7 — Parking is $5.

• Daycare and Kids Day – Tuesday, Aug. 8 – Daycare centers and businesses can buy advance tickets for $1 per child and $2 per child at the gate. As always, children age 5 and under are admitted free.

• Military Day – Wednesday, Aug. 9 – As a thank you for serving the country the fair is offering free admission, free parking and half-price grandstand entry for all military personnel and their immediate family with a military ID on this day.

• Senior Day – Thursday, Aug. 10 – Free admission and free parking for seniors age 60-plus.

• Public Safety Day – Saturday, Aug. 12 – The day includes the following events during the “Dakota County Fire Chiefs Fire & Life Safety Roundup at the Fair” 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with law enforcement personnel setting up by the Hobbies Building and fire personnel near the Cattle Barn.

10 a.m. and 3 p.m. — See the newest life saving innovations in how CPR is administered by ambulance crews

10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. — See power of a live kitchen fire and how to avoid this problem at home

11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. — See flames activate a fire sprinkler system and control the fire until fire department arrives

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

Tickets are currently available to purchase online. The box office was scheduled to open July 24 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is box located in Ahlberg Hall on the fairgrounds, 4008 220th St. W. The ticket office will be open 10 a.m.- 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 5, and Sunday, Aug. 6.

More is at www.DakotaCountyFair.org.

Contact Tad Johnson at t[email protected] or at twitter.com/editorTJ.