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31 things to do in Minnesota this August that are not the State Fair

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Minnesota State Fair. I have an in-depth online guide about the Great Minnesota Get Together. But the media can make it feel like the State Fair is the only thing going on during the entire month of August.

Here’s a list of 31 events worth checking out in Minnesota this August. None of them are deep-fried.

  1. Tradition! The national tour of the classic musical “Fiddler on the Roof” stops by the Orpheum Theater in Minneapolis. (July 30-August 4)
  2. Just bend — and snap! “Legally Blonde the Musical” is on stage at Lyric Arts Company in Anoka. (thru August 4)
  3. Maybe the State Fair isn’t your thing, but how about a County Fair? The Washington County Fair takes place in Lake Elmo. And there’s free parking! (July 31-August 4)
  4. Dwight Yoakam and Vince Neil of Motley Crue will perform as part of Mankato’s RibFest. (August 1-4)
  5. The X Games will once again return to Minneapolis. And it’s not just watching extreme sports. Head downtown for concerts inside the Armory, a top music venue in the Twin Cities. Diplo, Incubus and Wu Tang Clan will perform. (August 1-4)
  6. The 2019 Minnesota Fringe Festival features nearly 700 performances of 130 stage shows. All shows are 60 minutes or less, so it’s a great way to test drive different types of local theatre. (August 1-11)
  7. The 56th annual Uptown Art Fair takes place in Minneapolis. The juried art festival features more than 320 artists in 12 mediums, including sculpture, painting, glasswork and jewelry. (August 2-4)
  8. Saint Paul family-owned restaurant and grocer El Burrito Mercado will celebrate 40 years in business with a fiesta, including an outdoor bar, live music and free food. (August 4)
  9. I’m not sure how they’ll pull it off, but unicorns will be racing at Canterbury Park. You can also watch llamas race between the regularly scheduled horse races. (August 4)
  10. Head to the self-proclaimed Restaurant Capital of the World for the Taste of Dorset. Restaurants in the northern Minnesota town will serve food. Plus, it’s when residents of Dorset elect their mayor. If you recall, the town elected 3-year-old Bobby Tufts in 2012. (August 4)
  11. Surly Brewing Co. in Minneapolis hosts free outdoor movies in the beer garden Monday nights throughout the summer. Stop by to see the cult hit, “Clueless.” As if! (August 5)
  12. Downtown Shakopee hosts Rhythm on the Rails for the first three Wednesdays in August. The free concerts will have food, beer and live music. (August 7, 14, 21)
  13. Watch viral videos of cats at the annual Cat Video Festival, hosted by myTalk 107.1 and the St. Paul Saints, at CHS Field in Saint Paul. (August 8)
  14. The Irish Fair of Minnesota on Harriet Island is a three-day free festival with music, dancing and a “zero K”. (August 9-11)
  15. Pack some breath mints and head to the Minnesota Garlic Festival in Hutchinson. It’ll be the first of the garlic crop for the season, and it keeps in your kitchen for up to a year. (August 10)
  16. The India Association of Minnesota puts on IndiaFest on the grounds of the State Capital in Saint Paul. The free event features food from eight Twin Cities Indian restaurants. (August 10)
  17. The world’s largest rubber duck will be in the Duluth Harbor for the Festival of Sail. (August 11-13)
  18. The biggest motorsports race in the Midwest takes place in Brainerd with the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals. Watch the best drag racers fly down the track at speeds exceeding 320 miles per hour. (August 15-18)
  19. Oronoco, a town north of Rochester on Highway 52, hosts its annual Gold Rush Days with an antique show and flea market. (August 16-18)
  20. Over 150 vendors will show off their talents during Buffalo’s 36th annual Art & Craft Festival. (August 17)
  21. The Minnesota Renaissance Festival opens for the season in August. Nosh on a turkey leg while watching a joust. New in 2019: you can hug a kangaroo. (Weekends, August 17-September 29)
  22. View bonsai, martial arts, food and other aspects of Japanese culture at the Japanese Obon Festival on the grounds of the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory at Como Park. (August 18)
  23. The Minnesota Vikings are back in action! They play the Seattle Seahawks in a rare Sunday night preseason game at U.S. Bank Stadium. (August 18)
  24. A parade, fireworks and carnival are planned for Woodbury Days, a three day celebration of the east metro suburb. (August 23-25)
  25. Round Lake Vineyards will host their Harvest Festival on the shores of Round Lake, which is about 3 hours southwest of the Twin Cities. Compete in a grape stomp and enjoy music, food and plenty of wine. (August 24)
  26. Now in its sixth year, the Stillwater Flea and Crafters Market takes place one weekend every month from May through September at the Washington County Fairgrounds in Lake Elmo. (August 24-25)
  27. The Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam will have extended late-night hours over Labor Day weekend. Bring your cameras and watch sunset over the Mississippi River! (August 30-31)
  28. Discover the relatively new Costco Business Center on Broadway Street in Northeast Minneapolis. Folks on my Facebook page raved about it! One person described it as ‘Costco but without the middle section.’ They open earlier and there’s less people!
  29. Kids 15 and under are always free at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska. Throughout the month, they host concerts from local artists. The Arboretum was named best botanical garden in the United States by USA Today readers.
  30. Visit the Smallest Museum in Saint Paul. You won’t be able to go inside this 3 feet x 2 foot micro-museum, but don’t underestimate what they can do. They even hold artist receptions for new exhibits, which typically change monthly.
  31. Fire up the grill! Find something good to grill at a meat raffle. Check out this list of the best meat raffles in Minnesota.
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