Minnesota State Fairgrounds
1265 Snelling Avenue North
Saint Paul Minnesota 55108United States
American Graffiti comes alive at the Back to the 50's Weekend at the Minnesota State Fair grounds in St. Paul.
Presented by Minnesota Street Rod Association, Back to the 50's is held the third weekend in June and features over 11,000 vintage vehicles from throughout the United States. Street rods with attitude to coupes with class -- most from 1964 and older -- transform the 320-acre fair grounds into a celebration of the car from when cruisin' meant riding up and down Main Street with your buddies. (Entrance fee is $10 for adults; kids 12 and under are free.) A variety of bands play 50s-style music, adding to the retro vibe.The moment you spin through the turnstile, you know you have entered an automotive paradise. Pristine vintage cars are everywhere, from the fair ground's birthing barns to the grass boulevard gently wedged between trees. Just beyond the vehicle, you will most likely see the owner sitting in lawn chair. Most are eager to talk, and often the owner will open the hood and so you can take a peak inside. The streets are left open to allow a constant parade of old vehicles room to chug, roar and squeak by. This is the Louvre of cars: It's impossible to see every car in a single day --but people try. Regulars (and there are many annual visitors) line up their lawn chairs and coolers in any available space to chat and to watch the ever-changing parade. There are over 350 vendors selling fuzzy dice, cat-eye sunglasses, men's shampoo that comes in what looks like an oil container, vintage car parts and cellophane-wrapped owners' manuals. Luckily, some of the Minnesota State Fair food vendors are on hand, too. Peterson's pork chops on a stick, great church-lady pie and communal pots of coffee for around $5 are served at the Hamline Church Dinning Hall, along with a bucket of warm Sweet Martha's chocolate chip cookies.Insiders know that the Back to the 50's weekend usually kicks off the Thursday night before at the Cottage-View Drive-In theater in Cottage Grove, Minnesota, about a 30-minute drive from the Minnesota State Fair Grounds; that's when MSRA members and old-car enthusiasts bring their rides and rods out to the movies. Surrounded by vintage cars, rolling hills, darkening sky and teens hanging out by the light of snack shack, it's easy to lose track of time -- and decade.