In addition to the standard community festivals, complete with parades and beer gardens, those interested in something fun over the summer in Southern Minnesota can also explore a wide variety of festivals with unique attributes. Whether it’s a particular food, style of music or activity, these celebrations each have something to make them stand out.
The Rhubarb Festival (Lanesboro)
Known as the Rhubarb Capital of Minnesota since 2008, Lanesboro hosts the Rhubarb Festival and lets the town’s talents shine. Free rhubarb games and contests include a rhubarb tasting contest with a wide variety of rhubarb treats to win, along with a view of the rhub-art — there’s even a rhubarb fashion show. Once you’re done with the fun and games, sit back and enjoy live performances from Matt and Brenda Stier and The Rutabega Brothers. Sylvan Park. June 1.
Bands & Burgers (Madison Lake)
Every Thursday, Bands & Burgers local bands come together on the patio to let their voices be heard while you enjoy a savory burger. Performances throughout the summer include Darin & Lucy, Hootenanny Annies, Jared Graff, Red Dirt Road Acoustic and Nate Boots. Lucky Lure. June 6 – August 29.
Solstice Outdoor Music Festival (Mankato)
Live music, camping and people come together for its 16th year at the Solstice Outdoor Music Festival. On Saturday of the festival, float down the Blue Earth River during Paddle Jam for about 90 minutes of sipping and relaxing while enjoying live music from a pontoon and cold beer from Fulton Brewery. After the trip, listen to the talents of Rayland Baxter, Dead Horses and The Werks at the all-ages festival. Land of Memories Park. June 21-22.
Minnesota Beethoven Festival (Winona)
Since 2007, local and national musicians have come to Winona to showcase the best in classical music. From single soloists to an entire quartet, the Minnesota Beethoven Festival celebrates classical music through local musicians—even the Minnesota Orchestra and Russian National Orchestra have made appearances in the past. This year, enjoy performances from Manhattan Chamber Players, Joshua Bell on violin, Olivier Latry on organ and Adam Golka on piano. Multiple locations. June 30 – July 21.
Rock ‘n Roll the Lakes Bike Event (Albert Lea)
Bust up the summertime blues with a cruise around the lakes of Albert Lea to support Albert Lea Area Cyclists. A bike ride for riders and families alike, you can choose from scenic routes of 10, 25 and 50 miles of biking. With food stops and music lined up on the way, it makes for a fun ride. Eddie Cochran, a rock n’ roll icon, comes back to his hometown roots to perform, as well as Marian Ross (also known as Mrs. C from Happy Days). Fountain Lake Park. July 13.
Cannon Falls Wine & Art Festival (Cannon Falls)
Wine a bit for a fun-filled weekend of artistic talent, savory bites and, of course, lots of wine and cider. The festival features local vineyards, artisans and food vendors for its eighth year of fun. When you arrive, start of with a wine and cider sampling and take home some of your favorite bottles. When you need a bite to eat, grab some of the town’s best from the local vendors. Last year included food from Ruhland’s Strudel Haus, the Lion’s Club and White Oak Wood Fired Pizza. Hannah’s Bend Park. July 20-21.
Art on the Hills (Owatonna)
50 artists show and sell their creations as live music surrounds, kids play and the smell of food lingers for Art on the Hills’ third year. Enjoy art demonstrations from regional artists, or take the kids to the fun art activities while you savor the taste from local food trucks. Jon Smithers is this year’s featured artist for his wildlife, nature and landscape photography. Owatonna Arts Centre Grounds. July 27-28.
Vintage Band Festival (Northfield)
This unique music festival began in 2006 as a multi-day event with performances in the great outdoors of Northfield. Listen to the best of brass music played by bands from around the world. Music and history lovers alike will be engaged by the out of the ordinary music experience most widely known for its historical music, dance, outfits and overall atmosphere of fun. Featured bands include McNasty Brass Band, Bed in the River, Hornucopia and more. Multiple locations. August 1-4.
Blue Collar BBQ Music & Arts Festival (Faribault)
The Paradise Center for the Arts once again hosts the Blue Collar BBQ Music & Arts Festival for all of the above and lots of family fun. This year’s 11th year of the volunteer-run festival includes a mix of live music, arts and crafts, a BBQ competition and, of course, great food and activities for all ages in Faribault. Paradise Center for the Arts. August 10.
Rochester Summer Soul Music Festival (Rochester)
Since 1995, Rochester has put together its legendary music festival as a family-friendly experience offering authentic, community engagement, while creating a huge boost for local businesses.Rebranded as the “Rochester Summer Soul Music Festival,” Xperience Live Events has continued to garner regional excitement. Owning the official finale to summer, this year’s two-day signature event will include a tailgate party, a free community block party, as well as our performing, award-winning A–List artists, including Bell BIV Devoe, Keke Wyatt and other local soulsters. Frontier Field. August 24.
Hermannfest (New Ulm)
Celebrate everything German at one of New Ulm’s newer festivals with Schell’s beer, German and American specialty foods and dancing to live German music. Party is held in the shadow of the 102-foot Hermann Monument and Harman Park. The beer and 1919 Root Beer will be flowing with taps running all day long. Check out special events from New Ulm Battery’s Thunder in the Valley and the New Ulm Municipal Band. Multiple locations. September 7.
By Abby Patterson