state fair sketch

State Fair


Fairs are a favorite American institution since the mid-19th Century. Today, fairs are more popular than ever; annual grassroots tradition celebrating regional food, drink, cultural heritage and showcasing the state’s top talent and agriculture prowess

Cuningham Group client-focus design approach:

Scroll down to view each of the following sections.

CGA Minnesota State Fair Visioning Graphic


Comprehensive master planning allows us to understand the current condition of the fairgrounds and assess weaknesses, strengths and opportunities. The end result is a visionary plan that allows fair leaders to prioritize projects.

Identifying flow

Master planning helps identify neighborhoods in the fair, creating clarity and the ability to enhance variety.







Improving Traffic Patterns

We will diagram circulation throughout the fair, as well as entry points and key locations. This provides guidance in how best to create a positive experience for visitors from the moment of their arrival and determine if the flow is working.






Fully developed site plans

After planning, we will create a fully developed site plan, integrating existing infrastructure and historic buildings. Special attention is given to the entry experience and the way in which your guests begin their day at the fair.


Comprehensive analysis

Detailed analysis of specific areas can lead to fully re-developed neighborhoods.


Increasing Attendance

In 2014, the Minnesota State Fair opened the popular West End Market. That year, the fair set an attendance record of 1.8 million guests.


Creating Shade

Creating places of shade helps to improve attendance at venues.

Horticulture Building


Horticulture Building

New earth-toned paint breathed new life into the fair’s Depression-era Horticulture Building.




History & Heritage Center

The new 5,600-square-foot Minnesota State Fair History & Heritage Center showcases treasured artifacts and photographs from the fair’s more than 150 years of history. The facility is available for event rental throughout the year. 


Restoring History

A former trolley car arch was found during renovations of the West End Market. It was salvaged and restored and now arriving guests enjoy the threshold as visitors did back in the roaring ‘20s at the fair’s new main gate.

Food & Beverages

Blue Barn

A modern kitchen bursts out of the now iconic blue barn in the Minnesota State Fair’s reimagined West End Market. The Blue Barn restaurant was one of the most successful additions to the Minnesota State Fair and has far exceeded the owner’s expectations.


LuLu’s Public House

The upper deck of LuLu’s Public House provides patrons a unique overlook and views to the surrounding areas. LuLu’s Public House features the only second-level patio at the Minnesota State Fair.

Vendor Spaces

A playful collection of revenue-generating pavilions take inspiration from crafts and authentic state-made goods. Many long-time vendors benefited from record sales in this 21st Century open air market.

Cuningham Group Minnesota State Fair Baldwin Stage


Schilling Amphitheater

The Shilling Amphitheater showcases local alternative music and features seating for 400 people as well as overflow areas. The venue, a focal point of the Minnesota State Fair’s West End Market, provides shade for visitors and is adjacent to popular food and beverage venues.

Carefully designed entertainment venues complement surrounding food, beverage, sales and educational offerings by providing a place for rest and enjoyment.


Baldwin Stage & Sunshade

The Baldwin stage pavilion is a year-round fabric enclosure and showcases the popular family and talent show acts each year at the fair. Its dynamic form was inspired by historic art venues and includes state-of-the-art lighting and sound systems. The sunshade at the Baldwin stage pavilion is a simple and cost-effective way to protect 750 people. The cable structure is easily erected and dismantled each year. In addition to providing shade for visitors, it visually brands the venue.


Fair Plaza

State fair plazas are a guest’s first touch – sparking the excitement of the day ahead. They help orient visitors and provide space for informal events. The plazas have a dramatically different ambiance between day and night.

Minnesota AFL-CIO



The AFL-CIO building at the Minnesota State Fair was designed to showcase the trades it represents. In the beginning stages of the design process, Cuningham Group created a model that helped the organization quickly raise funds to build the structure.


Buildings and landscape begin to tell the stories of the exhibits and immerse guests in educational experiences. A “green wall” featuring live plants connects the interior space to nature.



Embedded in Cuningham Group’s design process is collaboratively aligning sensible, sustainable design solutions that enhance your values and goals.

Year-Round Use

Year-round event and exhibit space for other events help fairs generate revenue in the off-season.