The Great Minnesota Get-Together kicks off Thursday for its 12-day run, so here are five things you'll want to be sure you check out if you're heading up the fairgrounds.

Minnesota State Fair

I first went to the Minnesota State Fair back in 1994 when I was working for a country station up in Eau Claire. (I hosted a bus and we saw Reba McEntire, with John Michael Montgomery as the opening act-- there's Throwback Thursday for you!) And every time I've gone since, these are some of the things I always look forward to.

5) The food. A no brainer here, right? I used to look forward to getting the always-fun Porkchop On A Stick, but THESE new foods at the fair this year might jump to the top of my Must-Have list.

4) The animals. Sure, there are a ton incredible farm animals to check out, but I always like to see if one of the K9 officers from the St. Paul Police Department are making an appearance. I'm always impressed by how majestic-- and well behaved-- they are.

3) The products at the Merchandise Mart. It slices! It dices!  Yes, even though I rarely buy anything, (because I don't want to have to lug it with me the rest of the time I'm at the fair) I always like to check out all the wacky products you just HAVE to have to make your life easier.

2) The entertainment. It goes without saying that there are always some incredible acts at the fair. Like Sam Hunt or Toby Keith this year. Or Chris Janson at the Leinie Lodge Bandshell. But, I'm looking forward to seeing John Mellencamp in the grandstand on August 29th!

1) The Mini Donut Beer. Yes, a shocker here, but seeing as you can only get this brew at the Fair (and only at the Ballpark Cafe, too!), you KNOW I'll be heading there right off the bat!

What do YOU look forward to doing at the State Fair?