By Amy Rea

July 4th is, amazingly, almost here already. There will be plenty of community celebrations and fireworks displays to choose from, both in the Cities and outstate. But there’s a multitude of other opportunities for fun and frolic too. Consider spending the day exploring one of these options.

One of the biggies, of course, is Taste of Minnesota on Harriet Island. The annual music and food festival is under new ownership, and they’ve brought some new food purveyors to the venue, including the 5-8 Club, the Barrio taco truck, and The Liffey. Bands performing this year include Atmosphere, Retribution Gospel Choir, Justin Townes Earle, Counting Crows, and The Offspring. The Family Entertainment Village will showcase activities from Creative Kidstuff, the Children’s Museum, the Raptor Center, and NBA Nation. Buy tickets in advance for $20 at local retailers, including the Electric Fetus, or pay $20 at the gate until 4 p.m., when the price rises to $30. Open 11:30 a.m. daily, July 2-5.

Minneapolis has its own extravaganza: the Minneapolis Red White and Boom on the riverfront. On July 3rd and 4th, visitors will enjoy live music (including the new addition of sanctioned buskers), a family fun zone, and an enormous fireworks display. The evening of the 3rd, Mark Mallman performs prior to a screening of the movie Independence Day. You can also sign up for a 5K or half marathon on the 3rd. Fireworks on the 4th caps off the event — but you could stay afterwards for the Soap Factory’s 6th Annual Ten Second Film Festival.

You could spend your holiday learning more about history at various historical sites. The Minnesota Historical Society has several special activities on the 4th, including a Capitol Mall Walking Tour (very worthwhile — I did the self-guided version last fall); a glimpse into how the 4th was celebrated nearly 200 years ago at Historic Ft. Snelling, or how farmers celebrated long ago at the Oliver H. Kelley Farm; or take a walking tour to explore the history and architecture of St. Paul’s Summit Avenue.

If you’re looking for a more active day, check out the Twin Cities Bicycling Club’s 29th Annual Watermelon Ride. Choose your route (15, 25, or 55 miles), arrive early for the bike rodeo, enjoy the scenery en route, and relax at a picnic at Snail Lake in Shoreview. Complete with watermelon, of course.

Canterbury Park in Shakopee has its own annual 4th of July tradition. Stop by between 1:30-5:30 p.m. that day and enjoy free hot dogs (if you’re brave, challenge yourself to the hot dog eating contest) and racing — wiener dog racing, that is.

However you choose to spend it, enjoy it and be safe! There won’t be a Wander Minnesota column next Wednesday, 6/30, but I’ll be back the following week.

What else is happening in our state? Be sure to check out the 10 p.m. Sunday night WCCO newscasts, where you can learn more in the weekly segment, Finding Minnesota.


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