The Minnesota State Fair, a butterfly festival and more

Minnesota State Fair, Aug. 27-Sept. 7 Credit:

Minnesota State Fair

Whether it’s the food on a stick, the rides or whatever fun you can find, there’s always some reason to go to the quintessential Minnesota tradition, the Minnesota State Fair. And while each year many of our favorite bites and bands return, there’s plenty of new stuff this year to check out.

Where: 1265 Snelling Ave., St. Paul

When: Aug. 27-Sept. 7

Cost: $13, $11 Seniors (65+), $11 kids ages 5-12, free for children under 5


New Attractions

There are always dozens of things each year to do at the State Fair, but here are a few of our picks. Olympic gold medal-winning figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi and Minnesota-born national skater Rohene Ward will dropping by for Figure Skating Day (Aug. 31) at Carousel Park with performances on a plastic ice sheet from local clubs. Hmong Minnesota Day (Sept. 7) will bring traditional and contemporary Hmong dance and music from spoken word to break dancing to the fair. The Minnesota Historical Society will also be presenting “History On-A-Schtick,” a new show featuring a fashion parade of the state’s symbols, from walleye to wild rice.

New Food

The on-a-stick fare is the real entertainment at the fair, and we’ve picked the must-try, most unique and most daring new food options this year. We couldn’t pick just one item from The Rabbit Hole’s fair menu (Sept. 2-7), but the Hot Tail (roasted pig tail) and Kimchi ‘n’ Curry Poutine perfectly marry the fair’s grab-and-go options with culinary experimentation. The most unique new food out there may be the BBQ pickle ice cream from R&R Ice Cream, which will cross off plenty of State Fair regulars from your eat list. And if you dare, you may want to try one of the five flavors of SPAM burger new to the fair this year.

Free Entertainment

With more than a dozen stages and venues across the fairgrounds, there’s plenty of free entertainment for everybody, but here are our picks for enjoying the fair on a budget. Midwesterners Charlie Parr and Haley Bonar will be taking the West End at Sunset stage Aug. 27-28 and Sept. 2-3, respectively. Rising singer-songwriter Andy Grammar is set to perform Aug. 31 and Sept. 1 at the Bandshell. There will also be regular dance performances at the International Bazaar each day of the fair.


MinnAnimate 4

The annual animation showcase MinnAnimate is celebrating four years on Sept. 10th with round of Minnesota-made animation. The fourth iteration will bring animated films across a wide variety of styles made by both animation professionals and students.

 Where: St. Anthony Main Theater, 115 Main St. SE

When: Thursday, Sept. 10 at 7 p.m.

Cost: $8.50



Minneapolis Monarch Festival

The Minneapolis Monarch Festival, also known as Festival de la Monarca, celebrates the beginning of the bufferflies’ 2,300-mile journey from the state to the mountains of Michoacán, Mexico. The day at Lake Nokomis is filled with music, art activities, dance, food and more as the University of Minnesota Monarch Lab releases its own butterflies with ID tags. Nature lovers will have a chance to get up close and personal with the beautiful bugs whose migrating population is at an all-time low.

Where: Lake Nokomis Community Center, E. 49th St. & Woodlawn Blvd.

When: Saturday, Sept. 12 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Cost: Free




SotaFest seeks to be a new Minneapolis tradition with an afternoon of music, food and dancing at Parade Stadium. The event, sponsored by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, People for Parks, KMOJ and Bachelor Boy Entertainment, will feature performances from Kindred the Family Soul, Chirch & The Dirty Thought, Mike De’Cole, Chris Lawrence and more.  Bring a chair, a blanket and a cooler of drinks along and enjoy a day outside.

Where: Parade Stadium, 400 Kenwood Pkwy

When: Saturday, Aug. 29 1-9:30 p.m.

Cost: $25 advance, $35 at gate



Brit’s Pub Vault

The now-famous rooftop pole vault competition returns to downtown’s Brit’s Pub. Spectators can come, enjoy a drink or two and watch record holders and Olympic hopefuls compete and launch themselves under the Minneapolis skyline. Competitions begin at 10 a.m. with the masters vault competition and wrap up with the 7 p.m. professional competition. 

Where: Brit’s Pub, 1110 Nicollet Mall

When: Saturday, Sept. 5 from 9 a.m.-11:30 p.m.

Cost: Free




While Rodgers and Hammerstein crafted “Cinderella” more than a half-century ago, the musical has never been performed on a Broadway stage — until now. The Hennepin Theatre Trust kicks of its new season with a push production of “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella.” The classic fairy tale of love and glass slippers is reinvented with an orchestra, transformations and new twists. 

Where: Orpheum Theatre, 910 Hennepin Ave.

When: Sept. 8-13

Cost: $39-$134



Circus in the Park

Local circus arts performance group 2 Defy Gravity is throwing a free outdoor event with local performers at Minnehaha Falls. Circus in the Park will feature contortionist Jenna Dorschner, juggler Benjamin Domask and duo trapeze artists Marissa Dorschner and Cade Holsmeth of 2 Defy Gravity, among others. The show begins at 5:30 p.m. at the bandstand near Sea Salt Eatery. 

Where: Minnehaha Falls, 4801 Minnehaha Ave. S.

When: Saturday, Aug. 29 from 5:30-6:30 p.m.

Cost: Free