August 2017's Top Events

Get out and explore all there is to do this month

A group of people dressed up in costume and posing during the Spark-Y Urban Adventure Race.

Spark-Y Urban Adventure Race

photo by Emma Robinson

Top 5


Mystery Science Theater 3000: Live 8/4

You could argue ’90s cult comedy series Mystery Science Theater 3000 lasted as long as it did because the Midwest-raised creators chose to film in Eden Prairie, well away from meddlesome producers in New York or LA. For more than a decade, the show could run with the simple formula it first tested on public-access Minneapolis TV—cracking jokes over campy B movies—while indulging its overwrought sci-fi mythos whereby mad scientists explored the limits of sanity by subjecting the show’s host to endless cinematic dreck. Accompanied by Muppet-y robots, creator Joel Hodgson made a name for bored, basement-dwelling, abrasive-minded Midwesterners, and now Netflix has revived MST3K under a new host—reason enough for a national tour of live riffing that hits up Minneapolis’ State Theatre with Hodgson onboard.

The Holler Sessions 8/4-8/20

For all its Shakespeare and classic American drama, the Guthrie shook things up last summer with new experimental-theater selection Level Nine—and while that might sound a little stuffy, file this under accessible since artistic director Joseph Haj minted the series to engage current issues through audience involvement. (Maybe we’re too antsy as spectators to watch anything without a comments section anymore.) Level Nine’s first season ends with this month’s The Holler Sessions, a one-man show transplanted from New York wherein a cantankerous college-radio DJ waxes encyclopedically on jazz while taking calls from audience members—who phone in from their seats. If you go, don’t be shy.

A portrait of Herbie Hancock.
Herbie Hancock

photo by Douglas Kirkland

An Evening with Herbie Hancock 8/11

The Minnesota Zoo has hosted its outdoor summer festival Music in the Zoo for 25 years now. Maybe the zoo seems like a strange entity to organize a line-up that this month includes rock icon Pat Benatar and jazz-funk legend Herbie Hancock, but its lush-sounding and lushly forested lakeside amphitheater might explain it. A natural space that resonates like the zoo’s Weesner Family Amphitheater makes sense to hold the nuances of Hancock’s genre-brewing sound—cooled down in coiling rhythms, free jazz à la Miles Davis, and funky James Brown bass lines—with surroundings perfect for absorbing it all.

Kräftskiva (Crayfish Party) 8/18

The Swedish word Kräftskiva refers to a centuries-old crayfish festival that celebrates a summer delicacy once enjoyed mostly by Swedish aristocracy—that is, before threats of overfishing narrowed crayfish season to August and gave the freshwater species a chance to make a comeback. The brined, boiled-in-beer crustaceans became more widely available, and in that spirit, the American Swedish Institute gives Minnesotans a taste with its own decades-old August crayfish party. If you haven’t bibbed up for this end-of-summer feast yet, consider checking out the 150 pounds of crayfish (served cold), the wholesomely embarrassing cone-shaped hats, and the Brainerd folk-music band Ole Olsson’s Oldtime Orkestra.

A ride at the Minnesota State Fair.
The Minnesota State Fair

photo by todd buchanan

The Minnesota State Fair 8/24-9/4

Last year, the State Fair set a record with nearly 2 million attendees. No surprise, it can take more than a decade for an aspiring vendor to get in on that foot traffic. So, after the Original Deep Fried Cheese Curds operation—the one with the Tweety Bird–yellow trimming and mouse-hole stations—lost its permit in a mix-up following the owners’ retirement and a fumbling successor, even this year’s Great Minnesota Get-Together gets its own indignant hashtag: #SaveTheCurds. 2017 is not joking around—nothing feels worthwhile unless it’s in protest of something. Maybe you’re afraid of heights and oppose the 156-foot Great Big Wheel—among the country’s largest Ferris wheels—coming to the fairgrounds this year. To cut your losses, just try to enjoy the foods on sticks.


More This Month


Spark-Y Urban Adventure Race in Uptown 8/4

Teams race across Uptown finding clues and solving riddles as CitySolve’s The Amazing Race-esque scavenging challenge returns to Minneapolis with an offer of $300 to the team that finishes first, plus prizes for categories including best costume. Starting at Lyndale Tap House,

Irish Fair of Minnesota 8/11-8/13

Last year, some 100,000 people descended on St. Paul for the state’s largest Irish fete—this year featuring local performers such as Dublin-bred soprano Katie McMahon and folk-rock band the Tim Malloys. Check out traditional dance, kids’ activities, and a new Celtic Kitchen area with cooking demonstrations and samples. Harriet Island Regional Park,

Actors dressed up in costume and conversing in a circle at Rendevous Days.
Rendezvous Days

photo by NPS

Rendezvous Days 8/11-8/13

At the tip of Minnesota’s arrowhead, Grand Portage National Monument recognizes August as the time when traders arrived after miles of trekking to unload their 90-pound bales of fur. Come for historical reenactments, a 1700s fur trade depot, and a traditional powwow held by the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

A bat hanging upside down.

The Minnesota Bat Festival

photo by Susan Flashman /

The Minnesota Bat Festival 8/19

The Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Bloomington puts on its first celebration devoted to bats—highlighting the ecological importance of these bug-eating mammals while dispelling the fear-stoking myths that have endangered species around the world. Hear from experts and interact with exhibits. Valley

IndiaFest 8/19

With Minnesota’s Asian Indian population growing from about 17,000 in 2000 to more than 40,000 last year, the India Association of Minnesota’s IndiaFest just keeps expanding. Browse a bazaar selling traditional Indian clothes, enjoy classical dance and Bollywood troupes, and tuck into Indian dishes. St. Paul Capitol Grounds,

Como Park Obon Festival 8/20

The centuries-old Japanese Obon holiday honors ancestral spirits, said to visit their families for three days before returning to their resting places by the lights of paper lanterns floating downstream. Como Park Zoo and Conservatory celebrates with traditional Obon dance, J-pop performances, martial arts demonstrations, and bonsai caretaking tips.

Potato Days Festival 8/25-8/26

Near Detroit Lakes, the tiny, top-tier potato-producing town of Barnesville attracts spud lovers for two days of potato-picking contests, mashed-potato sculpting, potato car races, potato-sack fashion, the Miss Tator Tot Pageant, and all kinds of edible spuds—fried, baked, pancaked.