Best of MN, 2019: Things to Do

How we made 2019 fun in Minnesota: from the Little Mekong Night Market to the Minneapolis Institute of Art
Catcher Mitch Garver high-fives outfielder Eddie Rosario
Catcher Mitch Garver high-fives outfielder Eddie Rosario

Courtesy of the Minnesota Twins

Things to Do

Sports Team: Minnesota Twins

The storylines for the 2019 Central Division champs, the Minnesota Twins, are numerous. There’s the “Bomba Squad” setting a new single-season home run record. There’s the sneaky upstart Target Field squirrel mascot. The charismatic Willians “La Tortuga” Astudillo, the astute new manager Rocco Baldelli, and one of the top regular-season records in Twins history. The World Series wins of 1987 and 1991 felt pretty far away, but this team gave us reason to dream again.

Winter Project: Foot in the Door

The Minneapolis Institute of Art’s Foot in the Door doesn’t take place until 2020, but you can be sure Minnesota artists are already pondering what they will submit. The populist project happens once every 10 years and invites professional, amateur, and student artists living in Minnesota to submit works of art that fit inside a one-foot cube. Artists vie for a place in a show that, last time, attracted some 100,000 visitors.

Allianz Stadium
Allianz Stadium

Courtesy of Minnesota United

Sports Stadium: Allianz Field

After much anticipation, Allianz Field made its grand opening right off I-94 in 2019. The St. Paul soccer stadium might not be as colossal as Target Field or U.S. Bank Stadium, but downright coziness didn’t mean it couldn’t get rocking. There’s not a bad seat in the stands—especially when taking part in the tradition of belting out Oasis’ “Wonderwall” after a win for Minnesota United, who earned their first-ever MLS playoff berth this year.

Joan Hill; Muskogee Creek and Cherokee, b. 1930; "Women's Voices at the Council," 1990
Joan Hill; Muskogee Creek and Cherokee, b. 1930; “Women’s Voices at the Council,” 1990

Courtesy of the Oklahoma Arts Council

Museum Exhibit: Hearts of Our People: Native Women Artists at Mia

It was nearly impossible to fully take in Hearts of Our People: Native Women Artists at the Minneapolis Institute of Art in one visit. The astonishing show, which spanned 1,000 years and featured 115 artists from the U.S. and Canada, was so rich with exceptional works of art that you really needed to come back a second or even third time. The show featured a wealth of intricate textiles, gorgeous pottery works, moving installation pieces, and a black El Camino, gloriously detailed in the style of Pueblo potter Maria Martinez.

Comeback Event: Grand Old Day, Anyway

Ashley LeMay and Andy Rodriguez became St. Paul heroes when they helped save Grand Old Day. The two friends weren’t about to sit on their hands when they heard the festival on Grand Avenue was going to be canceled last spring. So they started organizing a bar crawl, called “Grand Old Day, Anyway.” They received so much support, they were able to work with business owners and festival organizers to make sure the Grand Old Day festival and parade happened. Naturally, they were grand marshals.

Little Mekong Breakdancing Competition
Little Mekong Breakdancing Competition

Courtesy of Minnevangelist

Street Fair: Little Mekong Night Market

St. Paul’s Frogtown neighborhood marked the fifth year of its most popular summer festival with two days of dancing, music, and food and drink vendors slinging fried snacks, spicy papaya salads, and Technicolor desserts of the sort typically found on the streets of Southeast Asia. The lines were long, but no one seemed to mind, whether they were waiting for charcoal-grilled chicken hearts or the artisanal fare of food trucks Soul Lao, Donburi MN, and Ninja Sushi. No wonder Little Mekong did it all over again just two months later, with an encore presentation around the Twin Cities’ first mural festival (Chroma Zone).

E-Scooter
E-Scooter

Courtesy of Lime

Way to Get Around: E-Scooters

We named e-scooters the best new form of transportation last year, but they’re back because these gadgets took off in 2019. In Minneapolis, the fleets more than tripled, from 600 scooters last year to 2,000 this year. St. Paul has 2,000 as well, and Duluth and Rochester jumped on the bandwagon, too.

What’s the attraction? First, they are just so dang fun, and feel a bit like flying. They’re also eye-catching, and cheaper than ordering an Uber or a Lyft.

For folks who either don’t have a car or only need a ride one way, they’re the next logical step of the Nice Ride bike share ecosystem. They’re faster, take less work, and don’t have to be parked in a spot. Yes, there are nay-sayers. Wear a helmet, obey traffic laws, respect other pedestrians, etc. But as a whole, these zippy machines bring Minnesota one step closer to a multi-modal utopia.

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