New at the State Fair ... fewer construction-related traffic snarls

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The countdown is on for the Minnesota State Fair, which starts Thursday. Among the new attractions: less traffic congestion due to constrution.

For the first time in five years, light-rail construction won’t be adding to snares around the fairgrounds, WCCO reports.

Fair officials note that MnDOT construction projects could still slow travelers, depending on where their trips to the St. Paul fair site originate. They encourage people to use their busing services and bike corrals around the fairgrounds, WCCO notes. Here’s more information about getting to the fair.

The fairgrounds are already a hive of activity as vendors prepare for about 2 million visitors at the annual event, which runs through Labor Day. Security is being tightened this year, with 350 state fair police officers each day, FOX 9 reports.

The annual baking competition featuring more than 3,000 cookies, cakes and other goodies is already underway, and winners will be on display in the creative activities building when the fair opens, WCCO reports.

In the fair’s long history, many attractions have come and gone, but one mainstay is now entering its 60th year: the Princess of the Milky Way competition, the Pioneer Press reports. The first princess, Eleanor Thatcher, now 76 of Rochester, was crowned in 1954, after state dairy marketers hatched a plan to have the teenage daughters of dairy farmers wear tiaras, hoop skirts and high heels in an effort to make dairy glamorous, the newspaper reports.

Headed to a Grandstand show? This year’s acts are mostly a flashback to the 1990s, the Star Tribune notes. Among the biggest draws: Sheryl Crow, Sammy Hagar and Depeche Mode.

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