Minnesota State Fair
photo by Robert Ferdinandt
Minnesotans know how to take advantage of good weather, mostly because they spend much of the year dreaming about it. From county fairs to art festivals and annual city traditions, here’s a comprehensive list of statewide summer celebrations to get the most out of the season.
Throughout the Summer
Pipestone Historic Ghost Walks
You don’t have to be a believer to enjoy the Pipestone Historic Ghost Walks. The Pipestone County Museum, in conjunction with the Pipestone Civil War Days, provides guided ghost tours through the downtown area every Saturday from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Join the tour to hear local folk tales and visit Pipestone’s most haunted buildings.
Saturdays May 26-Sept. 1; 113 S. Hiawatha Ave., Pipestone; pipestoneminnesota.com
Nisswa Turtle Races
Head over to downtown Nisswa Wednesdays this summer to witness something spectacular, the 55th annual Nisswa Turtle Races. The event goes from 1 to 4 p.m. and only costs five dollars to get an official racing button and the use of a turtle.
Wednesdays June 6-Aug. 22; 25532 Main St., Nisswa; business.nisswa.com
Open Streets Minneapolis
Main thoroughfares are temporarily closed down to promote biking, walking, and playing at these block parties around Minneapolis. Vendors line the streets with locally made products, food, art, performances, free giveaways, and more. Catch the fun on June 10 on Lyndale Avenue, July 22 on Lake Street and Minnehaha Avenue, August 5 in Northeast Minneapolis, August 26 on Franklin Avenue, September 15 on West Broadway Avenue, September 23 on Nicollet Avenue, and September 30 at the University of Minnesota.
Various dates and locations in Minneapolis; openstreetsmpls.org
Hawley Rodeo Fest
Don’t miss this annual northwestern Minnesota community celebration, Hawley Rodeo Fest. Grab your family and attend one of the many events hosted by Hawley’s volunteer groups. Some events include breakfast on the farm, a health fair, a horseshoe tournament, the Rodeo Fest Parade, and more. On the last two nights of the festival, grab your lawn chairs or blankets and witness the exciting Barnes Rodeo at the Hawley Rodeo Grounds.
June 2-9; Various locations in Hawley; hawley.govoffice.com
Hutchinson Jaycee Water Carnival
The Hutchinson Jaycee Water Carnival is a multi-event celebration that highlights the local pride of area businesses and celebrates the rich history of Hutchinson. Some events featured in the 76th annual Water Carnival include, a medallion hunt, the Run by the River 5K and 15K, the Miss Hutchinson Pageant, and more. Plus, don’t miss the Grande Day Parade, one of the largest parades in the state that attracts more than 20,000 spectators.
June 9-17; Various locations in Hutchinson; watercarnival.org
The Wizard of Oz Festival
As the birthplace of Judy Garland, Grand Rapids hosts an annual Wizard of Oz Festival at the Judy Garland Museum. Celebrate Judy Garland with an outside viewing of the Wizard of Oz on the jumbo screen, a “Judy Around Town Tour,” a community Oz picnic, and much more. The Wizard of Oz Festival won top state travel event in 1989 and broke the Guinness World Record for 1,093 costumed Wizard of Oz characters in one place in 2014.
June 14-17; 2727 Pokegama Ave. S., Grand Rapids; judygarlandmuseum.com
Twin Cities Jazz Festival
For the best jazz music in the Twin Cities, join the masses at Mears Park in downtown St. Paul. This free three-day festival showcases dozens of jazz bands and attracts more than 40,000 annually. Headliners for this summer include Tia Fuller, Houston Person, Nayo Jones, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Aurora Nealand, and Tom McDermott. Check the Twin Cities Jazz Festival website for a full schedule and list of performers.
June 21-23; 221 E. Fifth St., St. Paul; twincitiesjazzfestival.com
Great River Shakespeare Festival
Theater fans can spend many a midsummer night enjoying favorite works of The Bard at the Winona Great River Shakespeare Festival. The 15th season lineup features All’s Well that Ends Well and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, as well as two contemporary plays, the dark and witty Venus in Fur and the regional premiere of Shakespeare in Love.
June 22-Aug. 5; 450 Johnson St., Winona; winonahistory.org
Lake Minnetonka Fourth of July Celebration
Looking for a fun-filled event to attend on the Fourth of July? Look no further than Lake Minnetonka for one of the largest Fourth of July celebrations in the Twin Cities. The day begins with the annual Firecracker Fun Run and the Kids’ Parade on Water Street. The fun continues with a sand sculpture contest, popsicle social, local food vendors, and free concert at 4 p.m. The night ends with a bang with a spectacular fireworks show on Lake Minnetonka.
July 4; 135 Water St., Excelsior; excelsior-lakeminnetonkachamber.com
photo by Hoskovecphotography.com
The best days of summer return in July with the Aquatennial, held in locations around downtown Minneapolis. Gear up for this free, four-day festival chock-full of activities, including the Torchlight Parade and 5K, live music, food trucks, and more. And, of course, the fun always ends with a grand finale firework show (one of the top five fireworks displays in the nation) over the Mississippi River. You won’t want to miss out on all of these family-friendly events that celebrate the city of Minneapolis.
July 18-21; Various locations in Minneapolis; aquatennial.com
Stillwater Lumberjack Days
There’s almost nothing more Minnesotan than a lumberjack—thanks to our very own giant lumberjack Paul Bunyan and his companion Babe the Blue Ox. Therefore, Stillwater’s Lumberjack Days is just about as Minnesotan as you can get. The 84th anniversary of this festival includes live music, a parade, a medallion hunt, lumberjack shows, a downhill derby,and logrolling competitions.
July 20-22; 101 Water St., Stillwater; lumberjackdays.com
Scott County Fair
The best five days of summer are filled with activities to entertain fair-goers of all ages. Activities include seeing baby animals at the Miracle of Birth Center, robotics competitions, a classic car show, strongman competitions, and draft horse shows. And for the main event, there are thrilling carnival rides for kids and adults alike. Bring your family for some summer fun at one of the most prominent and valued traditions of Scott County.
July 25-29; 7151 W. 190th St., Jordan; scottcountyfair.org
Uptown Art Fair
photo by Photopixels.com
Uptown Art Fair
Developed 55 years ago to draw more people to Uptown, the Uptown Art Fair has blossomed into one of the top 10 arts festivals in the country. From August 3-5, art patrons can view work from more than 350 artists, enjoy food and beverages from 25 different vendors, listen to outdoor music performances, participate in family activities, watch the culinary arts competition, and poke around the youth art fair.
Aug. 3-5; W. 29th St. and Hennepin Ave., Uptown; uptownminneapolis.com
photo by Jen Arocha
Experience a 16th century European village at the largest renaissance festival in the U.S. The 48th annual Minnesota Renaissance Festival features 16 stages of live entertainment; over 250 artisan booths for shopping, food, and drinks; and exciting experiences like a fairy garden, live jousting, and elephant rides. Each of the eight weekends of the fair have a different theme, including Pets and Pirates, Shamrocks and Shenanigans, and Oktoberfest.
Aug. 18-Sept. 30; 12364 Chestnut Blvd., Shakopee; renaissancefest.com
Minnesota State Fair
The 12-day extravaganza that is the Minnesota State Fair is the best way to end the summer. With demonstrations, live animals, art, music, rides, and every food you could imagine on a stick, this event is an absolute must-do. Grandstand performances this year include Niall Horan; Sugarland; Earth, Wind & Fire; The Beach Boys; Jason Mraz and Brett Dennen; and Boy George and Culture Club. There’s nothing better than the great Minnesota get-together.
Aug. 23-Sept. 3; 1265 Snelling Ave. N., St. Paul; mnstatefair.org
Celebrate 32 years of pride in the Twin Ports during Labor Day weekend. Duluth-Superior Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Allied, Queer, Intersex (GLBTAQI) Pride celebrates diversity and promotes education, acceptance, and equality. This year’s Pride events include an art exhibition, a drag show fundraiser, the Hummingbird 5K, a DS Pride historical collection, and more. On the last day, floats of all sizes and colors process down Broadway and Banks for the GLBTAQI Pride Parade.
Aug. 30-Sept. 2; Various locations in Duluth; dspride.com