With weather conditions perfect on Thursday, organizers say huge crowds have been making their way through the gates on the opening day of the Minnesota State Fair.
A State Fair spokesman told BringMeTheNews that “it could be a record-setting day” for visitor numbers, on what is traditionally the least busy day of the Great Minnesota Get-Together.
But the clamor to get into the fairgrounds is causing traffic havoc outside it, and this in turn is having a knock-off effect on buses serving the 33 park and ride stations situated around the metro area – with the State Fair tweeting that all park and ride lots were full as of 11:10 a.m.
There have been reports on social media of long lines and waits of more than half-an-hour for a bus.
A spokesman admitted there had been some teething problems on Thursday, saying: “It won’t be a pattern [for the entire fair], this is Day 1, we have a lot of things going on, new employees, and we’ve had some bus issues such as doors not opening, things like that.
“We’re getting as many buses as we can to as many lots as can,” he added, saying they were having to contend with “jammed up” traffic around the fairgrounds.
These lots won’t be full all day as people go in and out of the fair, so if any of these are the closest to where you live they are still worth checking out before you find an alternative. You can find a map of Park & Ride locations here.
BringMeTheNews sports producer Joe Nelson was one of those heading to the fair and planning on parking in one of the fairground lots.
“We came in on Como Ave off of Highway 280,” he said. “It took 10 minutes to get from downtown Minneapolis to Como Avenue… and then another hour to creep our way to a FULL parking lot.
“So we just paid $20 and found a lot, which we were probably really lucky to get into.”
Another BringMeTheNews staffer messaged the following at midday: “This year has to be the absolute worst year for parking. They have closed a few public lots. I circled around the state fair for an hour and a half trying to park. I still have not parked.”
The State Fair said things should improve even during the busier days, with an extra 10 park and ride lots open on weekends and Labor Day, as well as more buses in operation.