Taste of Minnesota

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1097 Payne Avenue, Saint Paul, MN, USA
www.tasteofmn.org - (651) 772-9980

Taste of Minnesota Saint Paul Reviews

the_bill the_bill
30 reviews
Taste of Minnesota Jul 04, 2009
The Taste of Minnesota takes places in Saint Paul on Harriet Island. This is one of the many popular summer festivals happening throughout the metro area, as well as greater Minnesota. The Taste of Minnesota runs for several days and is Saint Paul's 4th of July celebration with an abundance of music, food, beer, vendors and nightly fireworks. Its a great preview of the food you'll see at the Minnesota State Fair with such staples as pork chop on a stick, walleye on a stick, sweet corn, mini-donuts, corn dogs and lots more.
the_bill says:
I didn't go last year, but I knew what to expect, so I enjoyed it. Every big summer festival has become a mini-preview of the state fair.
Posted on: Jul 05, 2009
pinchora says:
so was this better than last year? cuz last year pretty much sucked!
Posted on: Jul 05, 2009
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pinchora pinchora
162 reviews
fair food without the fair Jul 04, 2008
Upon thinking the Taste of Minnesota food festival I thought it would have what Minnesota is known for (even Mel [mellemel8] thought the same thing when I messaged her on TB---she asked about scandanavian food)... but this is far from it.... no you won't find your hot dishes, scandanavian food 'n at here... it is pretty much anything you can imagine on a stick from pork chops on a stick, felafel on a stick, lobster on a stick, grilled shrimp on a stick, corn dog on a stick, to a pickle on a stick. There is also deep fried cheese curds, turkey, ice cream and a pathetic looking quesadilla that Adam got (it was a half a quesadilla that cost him $7.50 and it was not filled with much)---I'll explain the pricing in a minute.

If you do go make sure you walk around to guage what you want to eat. Because they don't take cash at the stands... you have to go buy tickets and then give it to the consessions. The tickets come in a stack of 8 for $5... you then go out and get the food. We got the tickets when we first walked in. I told the guy all I wanted was a rootbeer float and pavlova... he told me I should get $20 worth of tickets... which I thought was absurd. Well, I found the rootbeer float... I got the medium size for 6 tickets... then we walked around trying to find the pavlova.

While walking around you get distracted by a guy demonstrating some cooking pans, ford and saturn were there (mean while the commercial for Toyota says they are the official car of the Twin Cities---but they were'nt there---another way this isn't the taste of minnesota? Hmmm...) And they were giving out prizes as long as you signed up for their mailing list. And there were also some small carnival rides. I was told before coming here that this is just a taste of the state fair---and that I should just wait to go there.

Needless to say I never found pavlova so I spent 12 tickets on a smoothie from Maui Wowi---raspberry/pina colada. And we went on our way.

Apparently the taste of Minnesota got bought out or something and the 2009 taste is going to be more local restaurants... which is good because the food wasn't minnesota (unless you count the hamburger...but then I don't know if it was from a grass fed farm in the state or a grain fed farm out of state), the offical car dealer of the state (toyota) wasn't there but you got to see saturn and ford, if you go to find a beer all you can get is a Bud or a Miller... not a Summit---which is brewed right down the street which is really really good and also starbucks was handing out free samples (a seattle based company) rather than Caribou Coffee which is a Minneapolis Based Company.

So if you're thinking of going, right now without ever being to the state fair and only going by what I was told---just wait to go to the fair... you'll have a better time!
1 / 1 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
petrarchanprincess says:
To be fair, the Taste of Minnesota *used* to be really good. They highlighted a lot of really sleek, sometimes expensive, but always innovative local restaurants. Slowly but surely however, it sort of turned into this fair-type atmosphere. I agree that it's misleading and not really worth going to anymore and it is a lot like the State Fair, but just so you know it wasn't always like that! :)
Posted on: Aug 28, 2008
pinchora says:
Mel... well, I'll keep you updated on the state fair... apparently it's HUGE out here in the midwest!!! Check it out... http://gopher.mnstatefair.org/foodfinder/ There's going to be so much more to pick from... looks more authentic... and according to my roomate I have to go see the butterheads---you know how people have ice sculptures... well we sculpt out of butter!!! LOL!!!
Posted on: Jul 09, 2008
mellemel8 says:
thanks for this review. hmmm yeah it i agree it sounds like a state fair or a county fair here in LA. i do miss norway food :(
Posted on: Jul 09, 2008
alyssa_ob alyssa_ob
244 reviews
Skip this and go to the State Fair instead Jul 05, 2008
The Taste of Minnesota is a little misleading - it is not about foods from Minnesota. Rather, it is more like a Taste of the Minnesota State Fair. It has many of the typical state fair foods, only a more complicated system for getting them. It is much smaller than the fair with a much smaller selection of foods and activities. They have some booths where you can sign up to win stuff or play a small game to win a prize - most are free to play.

The Taste of Minnesota is held on Harriet Island (on the Mississippi River) in St. Paul. It is free to get in, but you pay for parking. None of the food booths or rides take cash - it is all a ticket system. You pay $5 for 8 tickets and try to figure out how to spend the tickets just right. You always end up with not enough tickets or a few too many. Everything is extremely overpriced. A 20 oz bottle of soda is 5 tickets - or about $3. For $10 you can get one large food item (hamburger, brat, mini donuts, pork chop on a stick, falafel, etc) and one beverage (soda, beer, lemonade). If you get the cheaper items, you might have enough for a "taste" of something (sweet potato fries, mini donuts, caramel apple, mini smoothie, etc) for 4 tickets. If you want to drink alcohol, you have to pay for a wristband ($3) and then pay for expensive beer.

The highlight of the festival is the free concerts. They had Finger Eleven (one of my favorite bands) and Seether (another one) playing Saturday night on an outdoor stage. If you want to go to a concert and get a good seat, go early and bring a chair to sit on (and maybe a book or something). Seether was the headline band and the entire area was packed. Even Finger Eleven had a large crowd but I got there early and had a great spot. I would guess there were at least a couple thousand people at the Seether concert. (Both concerts were very good).

The carnival rides are a bit expensive ($5 to ride the Ferris wheel or Scrambler) but good luck going there with kids and not going on rides. The good thing about the tickets is that each set of $5 tickets have a stub for a 2 for 1 buffet at Treasure Island Casino in Red Wing (worth at least $8 right there!). There is a lot of open, grassy areas to sit, but not a lot of shade and not very many benches. Plan on being on your feet all day so wear comfortable shoes.

Every night they have fireworks at 10:15 pm over the river. (You can also arrive by boat and park in one of the slips). The festival runs for about 4 days over the July 4th weekend. The crowds get larger later in the evening - for the headline band and fireworks - but aren't too bad earlier in the day.

I heard the festival was bought out and that the free concerts might go by the wayside. I also heard the new owners were trying to bring in Cooking Network tv show personalities, like Emeril. Not exactly bringing the event closer to a "Taste of Minnesota". Hopefully they'll bring in more local, Minnesota-type foods.

Generally, this event is NOT worth going to unless you can't make it to the State Fair and are craving mini donuts, cheese curds, or something on a stick OR you want to see one of the free concerts. It isn't worth the hassle of driving there, finding parking, walking to the island, and trying to use tickets to buy food. Unless you want the free concert, which was awesome!
Finger Eleven on stage!
welcome to Harriet Island
"treadwall" climbing wall that mov…
booths and patrons
pinchora says:
I see you had the same experience as I did... sigh... the name is very miss leading! I was saddened by it. but apparently next year is supposed to have locak restaurants there instead... apparently it just got bought out!
Posted on: Jul 05, 2008
Sunflower300 says:
Ok, thanks for the heads up. I don't think I'll be making a special trip to St Paul for this one. :)
This is a great candid and honest review. Thanks Alyssa.
Posted on: Jul 05, 2008

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