Take a Break: Free, Family-Fun in Eco Experience at the Minnesota State Fair

Contact: Pamela McCurdy, 651-757-2559

St. Paul, Minn. --Eco Experience is a-can’t-miss for kids at the Minnesota State Fair. Join us for free environmentally friendly hands-on activities inside and outside the building! Fairgoers of all ages can learn about the environment and eco-friendly living in a fun, interactive way.

New this year at the state fair, take a step back into your own childhood and bring your kids to play in the Nature Adventure Play outdoor playground in front of the Eco Experience building. Kids will love playing on the multi-sensory playground, composed of plant materials, tree stumps, tree branches, and natural everyday recycled materials.

Head indoors to play some more! Stop by the information desk and learn how to fold an origami jumping frog. Kids can explore the Eco Experience building for matching origami frogs—posted by all of our kid-friendly exhibits—like the Trees Clean our Water exhibit. There, kids will get to pour water through a funnel and see how trees help slow runoff compared to runoff in a vacant parking lot that directs to a storm sewer.

In the air pollution area kids can play with toy cars as they learn about the concentration of air pollution along the most frequently-traveled roads. Our wood smoke exhibit teaches families about how wood smoke can worsen urban air-quality and children can explore the little wooden houses around the fire pit.

Stop by the water exhibit to investigate bugs in the water by looking through a microscope to find what bugs are found in Minnesota waters. You and your kids can also play “I Spy” at our 200-square-foot watershed map of the Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District with imagery so detailed that visitors will be able to find their own houses. Here you will find out where residents in the area are working to improve water quality and what you can do to protect local lakes and streams. There is also a new shadow puppet stage this year where kids will be able to create their own puppet shows with fish. Also new to the water area of Eco Experience is the interactive, What’s in the Box exhibit. Put your family to the test by placing your hand and feeling an object hidden in a box. Then, lift the lid to see what the object is and learn how it connects to mercury found in our state’s fish.

After learning about keeping water clean, head over to the Kick Gas exhibit to imagine your life on a bike.  You and your child will be able to get on our bike and “ride” past stores, schools, and other neighborhood locations on our picturesque backdrop. While the kids are occupied, parents can learn about commuting options and bike-share programs around the state.

The free kid’s activity area is also decked out with chairs for parents to relax as their kids enjoy the air hockey table, iPad games, puzzles and free photo booth. Be sure to bring your camera too for some quirky family photo-ops, including a loveseat made completely out of recyclable cardboard and a photo with the world’s largest wad of paper, at over 10-feet tall! You can become a storm-drain goalie and learn about stormwater and protect your drain from pollutants. Kids can get creative too and make their own journal, made from recycled products, in the ReUse room.

The Sustainability stage offers informative presentations and performances on a variety of topics to help you make healthier choices for you and your family. Take a seat at our Sustainability Stage for presentations on the hour each day, including cooking demonstrations with samples for your hungry kids at 11 a.m., 1:00 and 3 p.m. don’t miss the best fare at the fair! In the evening, you can sit back, grab some popcorn from fresh-popped locally-grown corn, and enjoy films presented by Renewing the Countryside.

Other presentations include: easy and eco-friendly gardening, information on youth outdoor clubs, how to convert waste into wearables for you and your  family, skits and puppets shows performed by Tricia and the Toonies, and more. See a full schedule at the MPCA’s Eco Experience webpage.

On Friday, Aug. 22, we will have an awards presentation for the top 10 submissions for the Youth Voice of Change: Climate Change Video Competition. The event will include a showing of 10 short films that were created by young people grade 4-12 for the competition, sponsored by the Will Steger Foundation and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. 

The Eco Experience building is full of family-friendly, interactive and informative activities that your kids will love. Come join us to explore clean water, climate change, recycling, air quality, transportation, gardening and healthy food. There are hours of free fun are to be had for the young and young-at-heart at the Eco Experience.

Bring your family, bring a friend and get your green on!