July 2013 festivals around Minnesota


This is just the tip of the iceberg for festivals and events in Minnesota in July. I’ve avoided the more routine festivals, Crazy Days, Fourth of July celebrations and city parties. You can find more information about those over at Explore Minnesota. What follows is a list of the more unique possibilities this month. If there’s something I’ve missed, please let me know. And be sure to check the Minnesota Historical Society’s event page; they’ve always got something interesting going on.

Also note: I wrote about statewide events for the upcoming Fourth of July weekend here. This is not a recap of fireworks, but other festivals that coincide with the holiday weekend.

St. Joseph

Tour of Saints
July 7
As the organizers say, this isn’t a race, it’s a heavenly little ride. Choose between a 35-mile and 50-mile course; the courses begin and end at the College of St. Benedict and includes stops at St. John’s Parish Center and the Cold Spring Bakery—because of course you need carbs for this.


July 12-13
Cities 97 Basilica Block Party
In an odd but amiable pairing, the Basilica of St. Mary and local radio stalwart Cities 97 present this “ticket to redemption.” Performers this year include Father John Misty, Mayer Hawthorne, and Cloud Cult.


Minneapolis Aquatennial
July 12-20
This annual celebration has a huge variety of events. Downtown tennis tournaments, block parties, milk carton boat races, live music, Twin Cities River Rats water-ski show, classic car show, a torchlight parade, recycled metal sculpture art contest, and fireworks.

Walnut Grove

Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant
July 12-13, 19-20, 26-7
If I have to explain who Laura Ingalls Wilder is and why there’s a pageant, this probably isn’t for you. But for you Little House on the Prairie fans (and that includes me), here’s your chance to experience an outdoor theatrical representation of the Ingalls family’s life on the shores of Plum Creek.

Grand Rapids

The Great Minnesota Pie Extravaganza
July 13
C’mon! Who doesn’t want to go to a pie extravaganza? Located at the Forest History Center in Grand Rapids, this one-day event gives participants a hands-on 1900s baking experience.


Midwest Tomato Fest
July 13
Food, live music—and a tomato-based food fight. Doesn’t get much more awesome than that.

Grand Marais

Grand Marais Arts Festival
July 13-14
There are many arts festivals throughout the state, but not many of them get to boast about being located on the North Shore of Lake Superior. Juried art, live music, food and fun.

St. Paul

Dragon Festival
July 13-14
The ancient Dragon Boat tradition is the foundation for this Lake Phalen festival, which also offers martial arts exhibitions, music, makeup tips for Asian women, and food—lots and lots of food.

Sauk Centre

Sinclair Lewis Days
July 14-21
A celebration of the community’s most cantankerous resident. Events include food, fireworks, live music, lots of tournaments (softball, disc golf), a treasure hunt, and turtle races.


Moondance Jam
July 18-20
It’s the 22nd anniversary of this central Minnesota rock fest. If you haven’t already gotten tickets, better hurry up—only general admission was still left at the time of this writing. This year’s lineup includes Motley Crue, Cheap Trick, and Transit Authority.


Annual Bayfront Reggae Festival
July 20
Reggae, right on the waterfront. Musicians include Ce’Cile and Junior Kelly.


Art in the Park
July 20-21
This is Bemidji’s 46th year offering a juried art program on the shores of Lake Bemidji.


Half-Way Jam
July 25-27
Midway between the Twin Cities and Brainerd Lakes is this annual festival. This year’s bands include Loverboy, Ratt, and Tesla.


July 26-27
The weather hasn’t been tropical already, so here’s one way to get in the mood at this annual celebration of all things Caribbean.


Blueberry Arts Festival
July 26-28
Arts, crafts, ethnic foods, and live music, all in beautiful Ely on the edge of the Boundary Waters.


Little Log House Pioneer Village Antique Power Show
July 26-28
This annual event offers the only public access to this historical site each year. A thorough re-creation of Minnesota history, this festival offers quilting and spinning demonstrations, functioning lumber and shingle sawmills, tractor and truck pull, threshing demonstrations, and a hand printing press.


Woodcarver’s Festival
July 27
Annual festival in its 30th year, located by one of the two big black ducks in town, this event is a celebration of woodcarving as a past and present tradition. Don’t forget to try an Uffda Taco.