Tips For Your First Time at the Minnesota State Fair | Travel

If you have talked to ANY Minnesotian about what you need to do while in Minnesota, you will most likely be encouraged to come sometime at the end of August for the Minnesota State Fair. The Minnesota State Fair is basically Christmas in August for someone like me who can’t GET ENOUGH. I go 2 to 3 times every year with different combinations of people and I mostly go for the food and fellowship. I love the hustle and bustle and greatly look forward to this every year! I have gone at least once for every year I have been alive and will continue to go. This year I finally was able to have my AZ family experience their first time at the fair in only 9 hours and close to 20k steps later. So I thought if they had to go without me what would I tell them for their FIRST experience. I thought I could help you to from someone who goes annually.

Minnesota State Fair Ferris Wheel Target

For anyone who is planning on going for the first time here are a couple of tips before your first visit to the Great Minnesota Get Together.

1) Get Your Tickets Early At Cub

Admission ticket prices just got up to 15 dollars at the gate, which isn’t highway robbery but don’t pay more than you need to. To help you save for all the delicious things you will be eating, Cub Grocery Store offers Admission tickets for a $2 off up until the week before the opening day. If you are going with your whole family or friends save a couple of bucks and treat your team to a bucket of Mouth Trap Cheese Curds. You can also purchase the coupon book here for 5 dollars. Although you never use all of them, you can get a couple of coupons that will save you more than 5 bucks. So you have to ask yourself it is worth it. A couple of coupons we love annually are the Pop Coupon, If you are into Rides they have a 5 or 10 off ride ticket sheets, $1 off cotton Candy, and $5 to $10 dollars off Minnesota Stair Fair Merch.
There won’t be coupons for the new foods that year so be warned.

Minnesota State Fair Marthas Cookies line

2) Use The Envelope System

Using the Envelope system is taking out a little bit of money at a time and storing it in an envelope that you will use the day of! This is something my husband and I do and it works great! The Minnesota State Fair is really a shared experience of eating all the foods you have been dreaming about since the last fair for the regulars. An average food item ranges from $8 to $12 an Item which can add up very quickly. So if you are able to save up in advance this method will look the best on your bank account when the time comes to get your hands dirty in the most delicious way possible. (with Sticky Pink Cotton Candy). Not big into food? Other things to save for would be rides for this kids or merch from all the booths in the Grandstands.


3) Download the Minnesota State Fair App

The Minnesota State Fair is the BEST State Fair in the whole of the United States. I am not just making this up. Much research has revealed this to be true (Google it) Technology has come into play in the best way and you can now download the Minnesota State Fair app right to your smart device. It has cataloged all food available that year and a map of where to find the food with details descriptions. It also has Merchants and Attractions. The app is better than nothing but still can improve. A big change I wish they would add is have a google maps kind of thing where it will lead you directly there on the app. Maybe it will happen in future but for not here it is!


4) Only Way To Try A Lot Is To Share The Lot

All the portions of food are for adult humans. Even for the most trained eater you will only make it to 2 to 3 items if you are eating everything by yourself and make it to about noon on day one. I really see the only way to try a lot of different foods at the Minnesota State Fair is to be prepared to share the food you are buying with your group! It is basically a day of samplers and by the end of the day you can check off all of your foods and events with a satisfied belly.

Minnesota State Fair Cotton Candy foods

5) Bring Your Walking Shoes and Friends

Every year this was a family event. So my dad would pack us all in the car/van and drop us off while he spent the next 30 minutes looking for parking in the surrounding neighborhoods. Now, Marcus and I park and bike in to help save on pre-walking before you hit the gates. You can expect for a full day at the Great Minnesota Get Together to be anywhere from 15k to 20k (or more) on steps. If you do not bring the right shoes you will be kicking yourself mentally later as it will kill your feet. Trust me this will save you a whole day of icing your feet if you just wear the right foot wear! ( I wear my Bzees and have no regrets the next day! Others just do tennis shoes) I have always thought of the Minnesota State Fair as a group thing. It is so much fun to spend a couple of dollars and explore all the booths and buildings with your best friends and people you love. It is a great date for just you and your partner. I am a wedding Photographer and this location is HIGH on my engagement/couple session list.
SO If you and your significant other are trying something new or going for your annual fried pickle fix let me know and we can set up a time to enjoy the Minnesota State Fair TOGETHER!


I Got My Photos Taken By A Stranger & This Is What I Learned | Castle Rock, Sedona

Marcus and I had planned our trip out West to AZ for Christmas with his family! It was a well needed vacation and long story short I ended up getting my heart set on Marcus & I getting our photos taken while we were there on a day that was just us two. We decided on Castle Rock in Sedona Arizona. It looked instagram worthy enough to give a try! As a photographer who asks people to do this all the time this is what I found out from my experience:

1) Short Notice. The original photographer we were going to be working with backed down last minute so it was 2 to 3 weeks before the day we wanted to shoot when I started looking for photographers in Phoenix/Sedona to capture the look I really wanted for Marcus and I. I was scrolling on Instagram for ...I'll admit hours searching for the right one. It being right in between holidays I got rejection email after rejection email from at least 7-8 different photographers before finding one that was open and available the day we needed. The rejection was real! I felt so bad for my brides who have to go through this type of thing!


2) Trying to find something to wear is a pain. I never really felt the weight of worrying of what to wear to a photoshoot until this moment. I have tried giving my brides helpful tips and things to do and just encouraging them to feel themselves. When it came to finding outfits for my shoot. I was SO nervous because I just wanted to look like a stinking magic fairy! Not quiet but I wanted it to look amazing, which was harder on my nerves. I knew we would be hiking so I wanted to get something casual and easy to hike in. That was the first outfit. I had a dress I got for our Anniversary Dinner which I thought was magical; that dress I was super excited about. ( lulu's maroon Maxi dress that made me feel like a princess )

Dressing Marcus was easy. I ended up getting a sweater for the shoot and a blue leather jacket for the dress. But the anxiety of finding the clothes that was JUST RIGHT was REAL!

Girls, I feel you.


3) Nervous first date vibes before the shoot. I have not been on a first date in a long time. I have gladly been happily taken with Marcus for many years. BUT in my own business I meet with couple all the time on coffee dates and I always refer to them as first dates. We are just getting to know each other and the same kind of worry crept in to our photo session. I didn’t know if we would like the photographer or if it would be just awkward the whole time. It had me more nervous because I just wanted it to go well and end up with photos I loved?! That is a rational request right? SO the whole day of hours leading up to our shoot I was nervous.


4) It is like being on a date with your other half. My favorite part of the shoot was just joking around with Marcus, while our photographer Abby took photos. I was really surprised how much I actually enjoyed all the nervous being taken away because I had only eyes for Marcus. He just made this time together in a new place feel fun.


5) I'm out of shape it it was worth it. Holy Moly I was most excited for the photos at the TOP of Castle Rock. In our emails our photographer said there would be a bit of a hike, which I thought would be easy peasy! NOPE ! Marcus and I just proved how out of shape we were as we hiked a very steep rock to the top. I felt so bad for dragging the poor photographer down by a lot but I am glad we did it. No matter how huffy puffy we were. The top of Castle Rock was just breathe taking. We were able to spend a very windy time up there and enjoy the sunset. The Lord provided such a beautiful sunset for us it made all the hiking worth it.


6) The waiting game is strong. So after we made it back down the giant rock, our photographer gave us a time frame of 1 to 2 weeks to get our photos back. ……… I heard that I promise. I will be 100% honest in saying I checked my email about 5 -6 times a day for 2 weeks. Was it very productive? No. Was I being very impatient? Yes, yes I was. Waiting was SO hard. It made me understand how important little things I do in my business to try to lessen this blow for wait time for my couples!


7) Finally getting your photos. I followed my own rules and waited to look at them with Marcus. We sat in our bed and went through them on the tablet. Some of the photos were exactly what I was hoping we would get. I love seeing Marcus smiling face and having a new background on my phone and posting all over the place. Over all I am really glad we were able to have this experience together.

I finally feel like I understand a good much better what my couples go through when they are in the process of book me. It gave my a complete different perspective being on the other side of the camera lens!


All Photos on this personal post were shot by Abby Quaranta Photography

Our Trip To Mt. Rushmore | Memorial Weekend | Sanchez Adventures

Wedding season has been so full this year with my own MW brides and lots of second shooting. Weekends away from Marcus makes it a little hard making some weekends feel like we have little time for just us. So I started to plan a small trip we could do in an upcoming 3 day weekend.  Neither of us have been to Mt. Rushmore before which in my book is something every American should do once in their life! 

We hit the road in the early hours; Marcus drove us safely through south Minnesota and South Dakota. As we started to hit the prairie fields you could just see for miles sunshine and grass lands. We knew we were getting closer to our destination when the flat fields turned into rolling hills! 

Day one we checked out the Badlands National Park; I stood there in awe of how beautiful and peaceful these hills were. Marcus and I mused over this looking like what the ocean floor currently looks like. We made small stops throughout our trip, one at The Wall Drug Store ( billboards for miles, not worth stopping for) and the Pioneer Auto Show ( if you like cars at all this is for you, huge collection that is entirely unique.  Marcus LOVED it). We got into Keystone later and finally got to Mt. Rushmore. The memorial is HUGE; surrounded by trees it sits alone away from the other peaks close by. Marcus and I decided to do the audio tour because are those types of people, but it was worth it and very fascinating! When the sun was gone so was the warmness of the day,  but that did not stop us from trying the Thomas Jefferson Ice cream from their ice cream parlor. We joked all night that him bringing ice cream to America was the reason he was immortalized in stone. The evening ceremony was cold, but fun to see in person. The only thing that would have topped it would have been fireworks. 

Day two we took a old-school train ride on the 1880 train. We packed into this train with a lot of other people and enjoyed the scenery from Keystone to Hill City and back. I could have done this one way and been satisfied but roundtrip we both got window seats so that worked out well. The train 2 hour ride turned into 3ish hours total, so we decided to cruse the wildlife loop in Custer State Park. On our relaxing ride we saw pronghorns, prairie dogs, buffalo, and burros. We both love and are fascinated by animals so we both really enjoyed this part of the day. We took the back way to Mt. Rushmore with weaving roads and beautiful views of the monument and finished out the day there. 

We headed home on Monday and the drive seemed a little bit longer but I am so glad we were able to take this little adventure!