From August 24th through September 4th the whole world will converge upon St. Paul to enjoy the food, rides, and entertainment that comprise the shining light of summer in the Midwest: the Minnesota State Fair. It’s the largest state fair in the United States — eat your heart out, Texas!The State Fair has something for everyone to enjoy, especially with its live music and comedy, and there’s nothing better than saving your money to go see some of the headliners coming to The Grandstand each year. Music legends including Neil Diamond, John Denver, Kenny Rogers, STYX, The Beach Boys, B.B. King, ZZ Top, The Steve Miller Band, and Lynyrd Skynyrd have all graced us with their talent in past years at the State Fair, and comedy greats like Rodney Dangerfield and Jay Leno have visited to make us chuckle as well.
Here are a just a few of this year’s standouts!
Stevie Nicks, August 25th
Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac fame will grace the Minnesota night air with her powerful vocals this year. The queen of classic rock has maintained her stunning presence, beauty, and unique singing voice over all these years. Nicks is one of the most mesmerizing female vocalists of our time, and you can expect big hits like Edge of Seventeen, Rhiannon, and Landslide from her set list. Go and be prepared to drift into a musical trance which only Nicks’ crooning could induce.
Jim Gaffigan, August 26th
The first comedian to perform at the fair this year is comedic genius Jim Gaffigan. Gaffigan’s self-deprecating, observational humor never fails to make you laugh your butt off at things you didn’t even realize were funny. He’s brilliant in the way he switches his vocal inflections while conversing with himself, and he hilariously derides himself like he’s his own worst enemy. It’s no wonder Gaffigan has returned to Comedy Central for multiple stand up specials and even got his own show (creatively titled The Jim Gaffigan Show). Gaffigan is from the Midwest too, so he shares our sensibilities and sophistication.
Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, August 28th
Prepare to take a trip down memory lane with America’s favorite Jersey boys. Even if you weren’t around in the 1960’s and you have never been to New Jersey, you’ll be sure to recognize the group’s big hits like Walk Like a Man, Big Girls Don’t Cry, and Can’t Take My Eyes off You. The timeless mastery of the group’s performance will have you up and out of your seat. You really don’t want to miss a classic act like this — you never know whether they’ll come around again.
Pentatonix, August 30th
The a capella group Pentatonix are coming to showcase their astounding harmonies. This all-vocal group is so talented they will have you looking for hidden instrumentalists and swearing they use backing tracks. There aren’t any, of course — they’re just that good. Mimicking drum beats and instruments using only their voices, Pentatonix’s live performances keep audiences enthralled from start to finish. If you haven’t heard of them before, check out their performances of Hallelujah and Bohemian Rhapsody online. You won’t be sorry.
Garrison Keillor, September 1st
Mr. Keillor is taking a break from his retirement to charm us once again at the State Fair this year. We love new Prairie Home Companion host Chris Thile’s sense of humor and frantic mandolin playing, but real Minnesotans will always carry a flame in their hearts for the sensitive baritone. I sure do hope we’ll get to hear about what’s been going on in Lake Wobegon since last year!
With such a variety of great performers on their way, there’s truly something for everyone. Be sure to check out the other artists performing and purchase tickets for your favorites at mnstatefair.org.
By Anthony Chiofalo