Summer may be coming to a close, but that certainly doesn’t mean the fun is over. Autumn is one of the most beautiful seasons in Minnesota, and a full roster of events are coming up to keep you busy. Winter might be just around the corner (and there will be plenty of events then as well, so stay tuned), but for now enjoy the still-warm weather and changing leaves at these local fairs and festivals.
Date: Sep. 11, 2016 at 7:30 a.m.
An entire festival dedicated to bikes, in support of education, with food and drink thrown in for food measure? Sounds like everything Minnesota is about. St. Paul welcomes autumn with the Classic every year, and the music-filled course turns turns the 15-mile Summit Avenue loop into a bike party unlike any other. And of course, any interested bikers should sign up for the 32-mile or the 47-mile race before it’s too late.
Ely Harvest Moon Festival
58 S 7th Ave E
Ely, MN 55731
September 9-11, 2016
The Iron Range comes alive for the Harvest Moon Festival. Now in its 23rd year, this free event features arts and crafts, food, live entertainment and activities suitable for all ages for the three days after the first weekend of Labor Day. Celebrating both the natural world, and all of the vibrant colors of autumn, as well as the man-made world of arts (including Native American art and bead work) good cooking (some truly great sausages), and community coming together, it’s a special event you won’t want to miss.
Wild Rice Festival
Harriet Alexander Nature Center
2520 Dale St N
Roseville, MN 55113
(651) 765-HANC (4262)
Sep. 17, 2016, at at 10:00 a.m.
Minnesota’s past is rooted in Native American culture. This Roseville-based festival celebrates the history, food and customs of the state’s first inhabitants, with a focus on drumming and dance. The festival kicks off with an interactive poetry session to get everyone involved in the spirit of the event. Food from the Tatanka Truck and Pow Wow Grounds Cafe will feature traditional dishes and, of course, plenty of wild rice. It’s harvest season, and there is no better way to celebrate.
Date: Sep. 16 at 3:00 p.m. and Sep. 17-18 at 6 a.m.
What might be the happiest festival in Minnesota, Duluth’s Balloon Fest is as colorful and lively event. Craft brews at the Craft Brew Village, kite flying, and hot air balloon rides (duh) for the whole family are all on the itinerary. Keep your eyes to sky to watch the launch over a dozen hot air balloons, but make sure to check out the food and merchandise vendors, and other featured activities, including the Color Run 5k, as well.
Best Western Plus, and downtown New Ulm
2101 Broadway S
New Ulm, MN 56073
Date: Oct 7-8 and 14-15, 2016
This list would not be complete without some mention of the classic autumn celebration known as Oktoberfest. There are countless festivals dedicated to the German tradition of welcoming fall, and you can find a listing of them by clicking here. But we’re heading to New Ulm for the biggest, and arguably the best Oktoberfest in Minnesota. The entire city gets in on the fun, with polka, fantastic sausages and pretzels, plenty of games and of course giant steins of cold German beer filling the streets. We can truly welcome the new season with a party like this.
Adrian Schramm is a resident Saint Paul writer with a passion for all things local. Through his work with Saint Paul Almanac and Minneapolis Examiner at Examiner.com, as well as in the kitchens of bars and restaurants around town, he has discovered what truly makes the Twin Cities tick.