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State Fair offers 10 days of food, fun, free entertainment

Food on a stick, barns full of animals, buildings packed with creative endeavors, exhibits featuring the work of Minnesotans young and old -- it's all part of the 2009 Minnesota State Fair.

The attraction that drives many people's schedules, however, is the entertainment schedule. The Great Minnesota Get-Together offers both ticketed Grandstand concerts and numerous options for enjoying free entertainment every day.

The Grandstand schedule follows:

Aug. 27 -- BonTaj Roulet: Bonnie Raitt and Taj Mahal, 7:30 p.m., $36.50; Aug. 28 -- Jason Aldean with Eli Young Band, 7:30 p.m., $29; Aug. 29 -- Kid Rock and Lynyrd Skynyrd, 7 p.m., $41, $56 and $66; Aug. 31 -- An Evening with Jackson Browne, 8 p.m., $38; Sept. 1 -- Randy Travis with Joe Nichols, 7:30 p.m., $32.

Sept. 2 -- O.A.R. with Slightly Stoopid and Brett Dennen, 6 p.m., $27; Sept. 3 -- Casting Crowns with Barlowgirl, 7:30 p.m., $30; Sept. 4 -- "A Prairie Home Companion" with Garrison Keillor, 7:45 p.m., $23 and $28; Sept. 5 -- REO Speedwagon, STYX and 38 Special, 7 p.m., $34; Sept. 6 -- Amateur Talent Contest Finals, 8 p.m., free; Sept. 7 -- An Evening with Jeff Dunham, 8 p.m., $38.

Free entertainment venues at the fair include Leinie Lodge Bandshell, The North Woods, The X-Zone, International Bazaar Stage, Family Fair Stage at Baldwin Park, Heritage Square Stage and Ramberg Senior Center Stage.

Some of the highlights on those stages are: "Abbamania" Aug. 27-28 and Blood, Sweat and Tears" Sept. 4-5 in the Leinie Lodge Bandshell; Sloughgrass and Christine Rosholt Aug. 29-30 at Ramberg Senior Center; Cafe Accordion Orchestra Aug. 31 and Sept. 1 at the International Bazaar; Robby Vee & his Rock-N-Roll Caravan Sept. 4-5 at Bazaar After Dark.

At Heritage Square, a new feature scheduled three times a day (noon, 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.) is the ShenaniGuns! Comedy Wild West Show. On that stage, look for Sawtooth and Monroe Crossing Aug. 27-28; The Barbary Coast Dixieland Show Band Sept. 2-3, and Storyhill Sept. 2-3 at sundown.

A full schedule of international entertainment is planned four times a day at the Festival of Nations Stage in the bazaar -- noon, 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. The featured performers include everything from Irish dancers to Lebanese belly dancers, Thai vegetable carving demonstrations and an Italian organ grinder.

Among other free attractions this year will be 3rd Lair Skate Park, with seven shows daily; Music Mayhem, a showcase of teen Battle of the Bands winners, at 4:30 and 6 p.m. daily; the Iron Jack Lumber Team four times daily at the Northwoods; and Ron Schara's Minnesota Bound at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. daily. Also, this year the horse shows and rodeo at the Coliseum are free.

Admission to the fair is $11 for adults, $9 for seniors 65 and older, $8 for kids 5 to 12; and free to children under 5. The entire lineup of Grandstand and free entertainment artists along with daily fair activity schedules and transportation information is available at