ST. PAUL (AP) - Heavy showers and thunderstorms are expected to give way to hazy, hot weather for the start of the Minnesota State Fair.

The Great Minnesota Get Together kicked off its 12-day run Thursday. A renovated Gate 16 is the new grand entrance to the fairgrounds. Right next to it is the new transit hub, which is a designated drop-off or pick-up zone for Metro Transit and the park-and-ride system. The fair's general manager, Jerry Hammer says the new hub should alleviate a traffic bottleneck on the south side of the fairgrounds.

About 1,500 commercial exhibitors and 300 food vendors will ensure there's something new to see or try.

Twenty-eight new food items roll out this year, including bacon-wrapped turkey legs and beer gelato.