Yes, it seems like just yesterday we were all being beaten down by the long winter and polar vortex. Believe it or not, Independence Day is only three weeks away, and it falls on a Friday this year, making for a nice long weekend. Along with the traditional community fireworks celebrations, here are some ideas of things to do for those days off. (Note: This is just a sampling. Check with the Chamber of Commerce at whichever community you’re going to be at to find out what’s specific to that town.)

The Minnesota Historical Society has several events planned on the Fourth itself. The Oliver H. Kelley Farm in Elk River offers a Farmer’s Fourth of July, a laid-back celebration involving bring-your-own picnics, 19th century games and front porch discourse. A similar event takes place in Grand Rapids at the Historic Forestville: an 1899 Independence Day Celebration, with three-legged and sack races for the kids, watermelon and pie-eating contests and a reading of the Declaration of Independence. Ft. Snelling will stage a mock battle, recreating Colonel Snelling’s 1812 victory, and there will be a parade and historic games. On Sunday, the Harkin Store outside of New Ulm will host an Independence Celebration complete with a cannon being fired off and stories about the site’s history.

Lakeville celebrates all weekend — and the following week and a half — with Pan-o-Prog. The weekend of the Fourth there will be bowling, horseshoe, softball and cribbage tournaments, a boat parade, fireworks and a steak and shrimp fry.

If you’re in the southwest corner of the state, check out the Pipestone Ghost Walk on Sunday. Even if you don’t believe in ghostly spirits, a guided walk through the beautiful and historic downtown of Pipestone is worth the time.

Prefer something sillier? Friday has Duck Races, while Nevis offers Pig Races on Sunday.

The Minnesota Zoo honors military members (past and present, with proof of service) with Military Family Week, including free admission for service members and discounts for their families, as well as discounts on food and retail items.

The Landing in Shakopee hosts its monthly Living History Saturday on July 5. Learn about life along the Minnesota River in the 1880s by performing chores, attending school and playing games. The same day, Gale Wood Farm offers Saturday Morning on the Farm. Meet animals and help the farmers with their chores. Eastman Nature Center holds a Wild Tea Sampler on Saturday afternoon, with the opportunity to get teas brewed from native plants.

What else is happening in our state? Be sure to check out WCCO 4 News At 10 on Sundays, where you can learn more in the weekly segment, Finding Minnesota.