The Fraser Sensory Building at the Minnesota State Fair is the only one of its kind in Upper Midwest State Fairs.
— Diane S. Cross Fraser President & CEO
While surrounding states Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Illinois offer sensory friendly options such as special hours or performances, the Fraser Sensory Building at the Minnesota State Fair operates each of the 12 days of the fair, from 9 a.m.–9 p.m.
The building gives people with sensory difficulties an opportunity to take a break from the sights, smells, noise, bright lights, and crowds of the fair. The building features a variety of sensory tools and education materials, as well as a quiet, take-a-break space staffed day and night by Fraser-trained sensory support volunteers and Fraser OT staff.
Fraser President and CEO Diane S. Cross says Fraser opened the Sensory Building in 2021, to expand its vision of community inclusion for people of all abilities. The building is located at 1353 Cosgrove Avenue, just off the Snelling main entrance.
“Fraser began as a pioneer in Minnesota’s Disability Rights Movement,” says Cross. “Providing sensory support in the community is a natural progression for us.”
Gina Brady, Fraser Sensory Certified® Supports & Training Program Manager oversees the sensory staff and activities at the fair and works with local sporting events, theaters, community events, and music performances to provide on-site support, training, and certification. She also supplies community groups with sensory kits with a variety of self-regulation tools for individuals to use on the go.
“Individuals with autism, traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer’s, cerebral palsy, anxiety, and other common conditions sometimes avoid community events because they fear they could become overwhelmed,” says Brady. “Having a kit they can use to self-regulate and a place to go to take a break and get support can make these events available to these individuals. It makes our community more inclusive and allows families to enjoy more activities together.”
Fraser is a nationally recognized expert in treating early childhood autism and mental health, and in providing overall wellness programs for those who have intellectual or developmental disabilities with co-occurring autism or mental health issues. A unique blend of healthcare, housing, education, employment, and support services address whole-person care, from infancy through adulthood, ensuring individuals of every age and ability can thrive. Learn more about Fraser and Fraser Sensory Certified® Supports & Training at fraser.org.