By Amy Rea
Just because the Fair is almost over, Labor Day is nearly here, and some kids are already back to school doesn’t mean Minnesota has shut down for winter. There may not be quite as many festivals—but there are still enough to keep anyone from getting bored. And besides, soon the harvest and Halloween festivals will pop up. Be sure to check the Minnesota Historical Society’s event page; they’ve always got something interesting going on.
Minnesota Renaissance Festival
Through Oct. 1, weekends, Labor Day, and Sept. 29
Rowdy jousting, roasted turkey legs, raucous and libidinous comedy, people in costumes—really, what more do you need?
Minnesota State Fair
Through Sept. 4
The granddaddy of Minnesota festivals. Go for the cheese curds, try one of the many new foods, stay for the rides, the animals being born, the crafts and arts exhibits, Machinery Hill, the stage shows, the cheesy giveaways, and of course, the food on a stick. Not to mention the cheese curds.
Defeat of Jesse James Days
The infamous Jesse James met his match when he tried to rob the Northfield bank on Sept. 7, 1876. Today his defeat is boisterously remembered with a bank raid re-enactment, hog roast, square dance, steak fry, vintage base ball, and a parade.
Harvest Moon Festival
Lumberjack shows, live music and other entertainments, food, and demonstrations of old-time arts (blacksmithing, birch bark basketry, wool spinning, and fire starting, among others), all in this scenic Boundary Waters gateway community.
Boxelder Bug Days
Why let those pesty bugs get on your nerves? Celebrate them instead with live entertainment, a chili cookoff, softball and bean bag tournaments, parade, and medallion hunt, among other activities.
Greater Moorhead Days
Parades, bocce ball tournaments, live music, food—a full week of fun on the border of North Dakota.
Prairie Winds Kite Fly
A display of professional show kites, with exhibitors from 5 states. Plenty of kids’ activities and food too.
Grape Stomp Festival
Seriously—it’s a grape stomp at a winery (St. Croix Vineyards, to be specific).
St. Paul Classic Bike Tour
This is not a race—it’s just a really well thought-out ride through some of the most scenic parts of the Capitol city.
King Turkey Days
All the usual fun stuff (food, music) plus: turkey races.
Halloween Haunt at ValleyScare
Fri-Sat. Sept. 16-Oct. 28 and Thurs. Oct. 19
Valleyfair turns into ValleyScare, with more than 75 rides, haunted mazes, and ghouls prowling the grounds. Consider this raged PG-13–not recommended for under 13.
Mahkato Traditional Pow Wow
Celebrating its 45th year in 2017. Thousands of Native Americans gather here each year for a traditional pow wow, with ceremonial costumes, foods, and crafts.
North Shore Inline Marathon/Half-Marathon
Feeling competitive? Like your inline skates? This one’s for you. Can’t beat the scenery.
Severs Fall Festival
Fri..-Sun., Sept. 8-Oct. 29 (also open MEA)
Not just a maze anymore. This year’s maze is Explore Australia. Don’t let your kids find the way out faster than you do. There’s also a pumpkin patch, petting zoo, live music, magic shows, pig races, zip lines, and of course, food.
Fall Raptor Release
Visit the Raptor Center in Hastings and see a variety of raptors released back into the wild.
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.