From its perch high on top the north end of the Minnesota State Fair, the Great Big Wheel is in strategic position for some of the best views of the Fair and beyond.

Towering 156 feet high, or 15 stories, the Great Big Wheel’s panoramic landscape views are second only to the Fair’s Space Tower.

“The Great Big Wheel is more a family attraction, than a ride. At many fairs, we go off the Midway,” said manager Jay Berner. “It’s our second year here. The Ferris wheel in the Midway–that’s a little baby wheel.”

The Great Big Wheel was built in the Netherlands: “the land of windmills and wooden shoes” said Berner. After crossing the ocean by boat, the 200-ton ride is transported to America’s state fairs on 12 semi-trailer trucks. A 175 ton crane lifts the ride in place and adds the 36 gondolas. It took five days for Berner’s crew to assemble the Great Big Wheel. His crew arrives from all over the United States to put the attraction together. Six miles of electrical wiring are used for the Great Big Wheel.

In 2017, almost 125,000 fair-goers rode the Great Big Wheel.

The Great Big Wheel is $5 per person and open from 9 a.m. until 11 p.m. on Cooper Street, on the north end of the fairgrounds.

The Minnesota State Fair runs Aug. 23 until Labor Day, Sept. 3.

Manager Jay Berner.  Jeff Rutherford for ArtsCrawler

Berner works with many Unions, he said.  Jeff Rutherford for ArtsCrawler

Workers from across the nation.   Jeff Rutherford for ArtsCrawler


175 foot crane.  Jeff Rutherford for ArtsCrawler

36 gondolas.  Jeff Rutherford for ArtsCrawler

Photos: © 2018 Jeff Rutherford



About Barb Teed

Barb has a M.A. in Liberal Studies from Hamline University, St. Paul, Minn., a B.A. in Media Studies from New School University, NYC., and Associates of Arts degree in Anthropology from Normandale Community College, Bloomington Minn. I was born in Duluth, Minn.