There’s always something going on in Minnesota. We’ve proven time and again that, despite our cold weather, we’re willing to brave the elements to have a good time. That goes double for events during our steamy summer months, when the humidity makes being outside almost unbearable. But if there’s an interesting event happening, we’re always ready to fight off any discomfort for a good time. These 16 small-town festivals are perfect examples.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Fisherman's Picnic - Grand Marais
If it wasn't already clear that Grand Marais is a
, the annual Fisherman's Picnic should serve as a reminder. The small town's population swells as tourists gather for sales, contests, and quirky activities like the log rolling tournament. In 2017, the festival takes place August 3-6.
2. International Eelpout Festival - Walker
Every year, thousands gather on Leech Lake in celebration of the humble eelpout. This ugly fish may seem like a strange choice, but small-town Minnesota is nothing if not quirky. The festival features live music, food, and an eelpout fishing tournament. In 2017, the festival is February 23-26.
3. Defeat of Jesse James Days - Northfield
On September 7, 1876, the infamous Jesse James and his gang sought to rob the First National Bank in Northfield. Several members were shot and the rest were run out of town. It is a proud part of the history of Northfield, where every year a historical reenactment celebrates the gang's defeat. The festival also includes plenty of food, a car show, a rodeo, and more. Festivities occur in September every year.
4. Pie Day - Braham
course the Homemade Pie Capital of Minnesota has a festival to celebrate its claim to fame. The pie is really the main event. There are pie baking contests, pie eating contests, and pies for sale. But other events, like live music and prizes, make it even more fun to spend a day in Braham. Braham Pie Day happens on the first Friday in August.
5. Spass-Tagen - St. Bonifacius
Spass-Tagen - literally translating to "Fun Days" - is a celebration of all the things that make St. Bonifacius a fun place to live. This small town hosts a magic show, a BBQ contest, lots of vendors, and even a wiener dog race! It's too cute to miss. Check it out this year on June 24.
6. Potato Days - Barnesville
Who doesn't love a potato? The unique events of the Barnesville Potato Days festival makes it a can't-miss event for anyone who loves spuds. Mashed potato wrestling, a Miss Tator Tot pageant, and delicious potato treats draw in thousands of visitors each year. In 2017, the festival occurs on August 25-26.
7. Goose Festival - Middle River
Way up in northern Minnesota, Middle River turns its attention to the goose for one weekend every September. The community gathers for a craft market, an annual Goose Walk, the all-important beer garden, and more.
8. Grumpy Old Men Festival - Wabasha
Wabasha is nothing if not super proud of its main claim to fame: its appearance in the 1993 film
Grumpy Old Men. Each winter, the town gathers to pay tribute to the classic Minnesota movie with wintry activities like ice fishing and a polar plunge. This year, the festival is on February 25.
9. Sauerkraut Days - Henderson
Most towns celebrate a normal fruit or vegetable, like raspberries or rhubarb. But not Henderson. This little southern Minnesota town goes wild over kraut. A charming parade, a car show, and a sauerkraut eating contest are just a few events. And there's plenty of free kraut, too! The festival happens each summer in Henderson.
10. Minnesota Garlic Festival - Hutchinson
Much like sauerkraut, garlic also has a strong flavor that doesn't suit everyone. For Hutchinson, Minnesota, that's all the more reason to celebrate it. The festival, put on by the Sustainable Farming Association, celebrates local produce, delicious food, and sustainable agriculture. And if you've ever been curious about garlic ice cream, you'll get your chance to try it. The 2017 festival is on August 12.
11. Festival of the Voyageur - Pine City
Festival of the Voyageur is a celebration of the early history of Minnesota, particularly the Pine City area. Historical reenactments show what life was like during the days when the fur trade along the Snake River boomed. The festival features contests, historical crafts, and costumed entertainment. In 2017, it's on September 16-17.
12. Watermelon Days - Sanborn
Who doesn't love cooling down with a big slice of watermelon on a summer day? The Sanborn watermelon festival has been going on for over 80 years, and it shows no sign of stopping. Watermelon lovers gather for several days of festivities, including music, a tractor pull, and a parade - not to mention a
lot of watermelon. The festival takes place in Sandborn every July.
13. Agate Days - Moose Lake
Most of us know that Minnesota agates are some of the most beautiful minerals found anywhere. And as the Agate Capital of the World, it's only fitting that Moose Lake would have a special festival dedicated to the rock. The most popular event by far is the Agate Stampede, where two dump trucks unload 400 pounds of agates and hundreds of dollars in quarters onto Elm Avenue. Then, participants race to search for the treasures. In 2017, you'll have your chance to scoop up an agate or two on July 15.
14. Dew Days - Farmington
Once called Mountain Dew Days, Farmington Dew Days is a celebration of all that makes small-town living great. A parade, a rib cook-off, and a craft fair add to the festivities. But the most quirky event? A bed race down Oak Street in downtown Farmington. Groups of five gather to race their bed on wheels down the street, completing challenges along the way. It's a hilarious addition to an already fun festival. This year's Dew Days is June 13-17.
15. Corn on the Cob Days - Plainview
If you can't get enough corn on the cob, Plainview is the place to go this summer. The main event is sweet, buttery corn, but plenty of other vendors will make sure that your cravings are satisfied no matter what. Pop in and enjoy the fun this August.
16. Bullhead Days - Waterville
Here's another festival celebrating a less-than-attractive fish. But this time, it takes place in the summer and doesn't involve catching them yourself. If that appeals to you, this classic small-town festival may just be your ticket to fun. Bingo, carnival rides, food, and fireworks bring out the crowds during this summer festival. Bullhead days typically occurs in mid-June.
With so many great small towns in Minnesota, there might be lots more festivals we missed. If you’ve ever been to any, let us know!