This is 15th in a series of 50 posts we are putting out throughout the years in anticipation of the celebration of our 50th Anniversary in 2015. We welcome your feedback and suggestions for the top things YOU love about Minnesota as well!
Who doesn’t love summer? It’s a chance to relax, bend the rules and soak up the sun! Minnesotans have a universal understanding of just how precious our summers are. Knowing fall is just around the corner, this post is dedicated to the dog days of summer. Our great North Star state is particularly gifted with hosting unique summer attractions that embrace our heritage, cultural diversity and love of food. You guessed it! This post is dedicated to the Irish Fair of Minnesota, Renaissance Festival and the Minnesota State Fair.
Introduced in the late 1970s, the Irish Fair of Minnesota, has not only grown in popularity, but also is the nation’s largest free Irish cultural event. That’s right—FREE! The fair found its permanent home in 2001 on Harriet Island in St. Paul. Normally hosted during the second weekend in August, this fair offers traditional Irish step dancers, native Irish dogs, Gaelic sports, food and beverage vendors (Jameson and Finnegan’s, of course), hobby, craft and travel vendors, and live Irish music! This fair truly has something to offer everyone. It’s family friendly during the day, and offers some nightlife for the night owls. Even if you aren’t Irish, it’s a great way to spend a sunny summer Saturday!
Friday, August 9th: 3 – 11 p.m.
Saturday, August 10th: 9 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Sunday, August 11th: 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.
For 43 years, Shakopee has hosted the annual Renaissance Festival. Starting in the middle of August and running each weekend (including Labor Day) through September, there’s plenty of time to stop by and see a Royal Joust, eat a turkey leg drumstick or be mystified by the faeries (fairies) wandering around. It is the nation’s largest Renaissance Festival, amassing an annual attendance of more than 300,000 people. The festival offers plenty of food and beverage options, along with various souvenir vendors. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to see everyday people dressed in 16th Century costumes, playing the part of the Jokers, Knights, Kings and Queens—plus, it’s pet-friendly. There’s plenty to do and see from viewing real mermaids, elephant rides, belly dancers, fire-breathers, and jousts. Recently, the festival has added themed weekends: Italian Carnival, Ye Old Pet Fest, Royal Ale Fest, Silk Road Discover the Riches, Highland Fling, Wine, Chocolate & Romance, Oktoberfest, Festival Friday, and Shamrocks & Shenanigans to appeal to all fancies and interests. Bring your family, pet and appetite to the Renaissance Festival this summer!
Open weekends: 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.
August 17 through September 29.
Minnesota State Fair
The great Minnesota get together is the epitome of summertime. It’s a chance to celebrate everything that makes Minnesota great: agriculture, wildlife and, of course, food. Every year thousands flock to the Minnesota State Fair for the timeless classics: all you can drink milk, fried pickles, mini donuts, and a tub of Sweet Martha’s cookies, but did you know each year the fair offers different and unique attractions? Be sure to stop by the Horse Barn to see the EquiMania!™ exhibit to see full-size skeletons and anatomy models of stallions. If that isn’t your sort of thing, take in some architecture at the Canstruction® exhibit of agriculture themes can sculptures. My personal favorite is stopping by the WCCO weather building and trying my hand at being a meteorologist. Being of the nation’s largest and best attended state fairs there bound to be something to see, eat and do with your family.
August 22-September 2
6 a.m.-midnight (10 p.m. on Labor Day)
Even though August is here there’s still plenty of summer left to enjoy. Take your family and friends to one of the fairs our great state has to offer. Enjoy the beautiful weather, fair food and your fellow Minnesotans this summer!
Comment below and let us know what your favorite Minnesotan fair is!