As summer comes to a close, we have to send the warm weather and long nights off the right way. We all know that the Minnesota State Fair is a great way to end the season, so we came up with a few other activities to enjoy before we settle in for autumn and winter.
(credit: Music In Mears)

(credit: Music In Mears)

Music In Mears
Mears Park
221 5th St E
St Paul, MN 55101

Every Thursday in August, 2016 6 to 9 p.m.

St. Paul’s Mears Park comes alive on Thursday nights. The music series has been running now for over a decade, and only seems to be getting better. It’s a great event for the whole family, offering beer or wine for mom and dad and hot dogs and ice cream for the kids, and doesn’t cost a dime. So, settle back on the grass with a blanket, or with your feet dipped into the cool water of the stream, and enjoy some great local music.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

County Fairs

No matter what part of the state you live in, there is a county fair for you. Plus, if you can’t make it to one you can always try the next.

Washington County Fair
Washington County Fairgrounds
12300 40th St N
Stillwater, MN 55082

Aug. 3-6, 2016

A carnival, plenty of fair food (can’t leave without a corn dog and mini donuts), lots of activities for family members of all ages and tons of events and music at the grandstand make this an unbeatable way to enjoy the still-warm weather.

Carver County Fair
Carver County Fairgrounds
501 3rd St W
Waconia, MN 55387

Aug. 10-14, 2016

Five days of fun make this Waconia-based county fair a special way to say goodbye to summer. You can speed things up with the Motokazie races, or slow them down at the tractor pull. And make sure you don’t miss the Midway rides and events at the Grandstand.

Freeborn County Fair
Freeborn County Fairgrounds
1031 Bridge Ave
Albert Lea, MN 56007

Aug. 2-7, 2016

All the classic fair fun can be found at this festival. For fans of country music, it doesn’t get much better, and even Ted Nugent will make an appearance. Eat, drink, dance, enter the funhouse, ride some rides, make yourself a little woozy while making memories that will last a lifetime.

Steele County Free Fair
Steele County Fairgrounds
1525 Cedar Ave S
Owatonna, MN 55060

Aug. 16-21, 2016

This is the largest of the county fairs, with over 450 vendors, beer garden, rides, livestock and live music. Taking place later in the month, it’s one you won’t want to miss especially if you can’t make any of the earlier festivals.

Related: Best Summer Music Festivals Around The World

(credit: Thinkstock)

(credit: Thinkstock)

IndiaFest 2016
State Capitol Grounds
75 Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr Blvd.
Saint Paul, MN 55155

Aug. 20, 2016, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Live music and dance performances will keep things lively as you peruse the bazaar and nosh on Indian cuisine. A celebration of culture that makes its way across the U.S. every year, it’s a fantastic way to celebrate differences and similarities between Minnesota and India. Taking over the Capitol Grounds for the Saturday, it’s an event you won’t want to miss.

Picking Apples
Apple Pick’N Days
Deardorff Orchards
8282 Parley Lake Rd
Waconia, MN 55387

Aug. 27-28, 2016

You’ll be able to pick apples, obviously, but also build a scarecrow, get your portrait done, test your strength against a farmer in an arm-wrestling contest and plenty of other events that support Children’s Minnesota. Raising funds for charity is always a good thing, but it’s even better when you can say hello to autumn and goodbye to summer at the same time.

Related: Best Places To Go Apple Picking Near Minnesota

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, as well as in the kitchens of bars and restaurants around town, he has discovered what truly makes the Twin Cities tick.