2016 Summer What To Do


Como Zoo: Behind the Scenes
Como Park Zoo & Conservatory, St. Paul
Rise and shine with Como’s animals and see the zoo in a whole new light! Visit the zoo before hours and go behind-the-scenes. During your two-hour experience, you’ll go behind the scenes before the zoo opens to the public. Hear stories from Como’s fascinating past, make a treat for polar bears, feed a giraffe, and meet one of the many zookeepers who make Como Zoo a world-class facility. Don’t miss this opportunity to see the zoo wake up around you!

Glass Discovery
FOCI Minnesota Center for Glass Arts, Minneapolis
Starting at $75
During your hands-on Glass Discovery, you will work one-on-one, in a team, or in a small group (5 or less) with professional glass instructors to make your choice of a globe sculpture or pint drinking glass. The perfect activity for the curious, the adventurous, and the romantic. This signature hands-on experience is designed to provide participants with an exciting introduction to working with molten glass. Learn how to gather from the furnace, add color, and shape and mold a piece of glass to create your own masterpiece. The art that is made will take a couple of days to cool, so you will need to arrange for someone to return to the studio to pick it up. In order to secure your reservation, please schedule at least 7 days in advance.

A Global Taste of the Market
Midtown Global Market, Minneapolis
Take your taste buds on a trip around the globe – in only 90 minutes! The guided tour will begin with a brief history of the Midtown Exchange building, taking you back to the days you would find Sears catalogs on your doorstep. Entering Midtown Global Market, you’ll see first-hand how the Neighborhood Development Center has incubated immigrant businesses, and have the opportunity to try global food samples while you hear the stories from the vendors themselves. Want more? Enjoy customizable cooking, dancing, or even music lessons to learn more about a specific culture represented within Midtown Global Market.

Skyline Mini Golf. Photo courtesy of Walker Art Center

Skyline Mini Golf. Photo courtesy of Walker Art Center

Skyline Mini Golf
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
Through September 4
Tee up (on the terrace) and let the games begin! Amazing views and novelties await you on the Walker’s newest mini-golf course, featuring a giant hot dog, ping-pong paddles, a tricky chicken coop, and more. Due to the renovation of the Walker/Minneapolis Sculpture Garden campus, the 9-hole course has been moved up to the rooftop. Grab some friends and enjoy a round in one of the Twin Cities’ most unique settings. Every ticket includes free gallery admission to the Walker for each golfer. For an added bonus, swing by Gather Café inside the Walker before or after a round of mini golf for a tasty snack or relax with a refreshing cold drink or frozen treat.

Rhythm of the River
Padelford Riverboats, St. Paul
Through October
Experience the rhythm of the Mississippi River, spot bald eagles, herons, egrets and falcons as you travel back in time from Saint Paul’s bustling downtown harbor through the Mississippi National Great River Park. We’ll see you on the river. Narrated public excursions depart from Harriet Island in St. Paul. The historically narrated public sightseeing trips include: the St. Paul High Bridge, Pig’s Eye’s Cave, the Minnesota River mouth, Pike Island, and the timeless splendor of the mighty Mississippi River. All sightseeing cruises offer a full bar as well as snacks such as hot dogs and popcorn.

Midtown Farmers Market
East Lake Street, Minneapolis
Through October 27
Spring is here and outdoor farmers markets are back! This marks the Midtown Farmers Market’s 13th season, attracting more than 55,000 visitors each year. This year, the market is also offering children’s activities the second Saturday of every month, free weekly fitness classes with the YWCA, and free rides to the market on the Blue Line LRT the first Saturday of every month. The Midtown Farmers Market accepts SNAP-EBT and Market Bucks. Enjoy freshly prepared food while you fill your bag with produce, meats and cheeses from local farms, browse the wares of local artists, and enjoy the entertainment.

Edina Art Fair. Art by Cait Courneya

Edina Art Fair. Art by Cait Courneya

Edina Art Fair
50th & France, Edina
June 3–5
The Edina Art Fair, the first art fair of the season and most acclaimed in the state, will mark its 50th anniversary during this year’s event. Since its beginning, the Edina Art Fair has grown to feature over 300 artists from around the world and receives accolades and top rankings from national outlets such as Art Fair Source Book and Sunshine Artist Magazine. An estimated 200,000 people will attend the three-day event, taking part in a variety of ever-popular and new festivities taking place during the three-day celebration. At the Edina Art Fair, booths upon booths of ceramics, jewelry, glass, photography, wood carvings, mixed media, 2D pieces, fine art, wearables and sculptures will line the curbs of France Avenue and 50th Street and in the parking lot of Lunds.

Grand Old Days
Grand Avenue, St. Paul
June 4–5
The 43rd annual Grand Old Days, Saint Paul’s first rite of summer, will be double the fun this year taking place over the course of two days. The event is also expanding to cover about 30 blocks along Grand Avenue, from Dale Street to Prior Avenue. Of special note this year is the appearance of Derrick Barry, considered the world’s number one Britney Spears impersonator. What started as a Halloween costume in 2003, turned into a passion. Fresh off a season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Barry is bringing the act to Minnesota for Grand Old Days.

Of course, to earn the title of the world’s number one Britney Spears impersonator is a huge honor. “It’s everything I worked for,” Barry says. “I’m just honored to have Britney know who I am and have so much recognition. I never had to spend time and energy into doing other drag, so all of my time, money, and energy went into this, allowing me to perfect it.”

Having tried Katy Perry in Vegas, Barry recognizes where his strengths lie, noting that you can’t force an impersonation. He says, “If you don’t look like that celebrity, there is really no point in trying to perfect it. I’ve always wanted to do Mariah Carey, but I’ve never tried it. There are other people I would like to try just for fun.”

As a celebrity impersonator, Barry never had much of a chance to try new looks or experiment with drag, but participating in Drag Race changed that. “It taught me that it’s OK to change my features; I don’t have to look like Britney on stage or on the runway or in a challenge,” Barry says. “And that’s always been my biggest challenge because I’ve been painting the same face for years, trying to look like her. Even wearing bottom lashes was not something that I used to do. Little things like that: overdrawing your lip, contouring differently. All of that are things I’ve been experimenting with because of the show. It’s so much fun to realize I can look like anything I want to. That’s what drag is, there is so much power behind it. The show made me realize there’s so much more to me than one face.”

Getting ready quickly is something that Barry is used to, with costume changes for shows. But the biggest challenge for the Drag Race competitor was sewing. Normally, Barry is used to having weeks or months to create a look, but creating costumes under a time crunch is not something the performer is used to, saying it created a desire to be better.

Find Barry on the Flip Phone Stage at U.S. Bank with other local drag personalities — Sasha Cassadine as Missy Elliott, Vivienne Le Détruire as Michael Jackson, Phaedra Simone as Beyoncé, Sunny Kiriyama as Ariana Grande, Julia Starr as Nicki Minaj, and Jamie Monroe as Dolly Parton — on the Sunday Funday of Grand Old Day!

Rivertown Art Festival
Lowell Park, Stillwater
June 4–5
Count on seeing beautiful paintings, photography, jewelry, pottery, metal work, fiber and just about any art form you can imagine. Be sure to stop into the market area to find local foods, clothing and other specialties that don’t fall under the “art” category. Over 110 local vendors make this the event’s 39th year and St. Croix Valley’s largest art fair.

10,000 Lakes Concours d’Elegance . Photo courtesy of 10,000 Lakes Concours d'Elegance

10,000 Lakes Concours d’Elegance . Photo courtesy of 10,000 Lakes Concours d’Elegance

10,000 Lakes Concours d’Elegance
Excelsior Commons, Excelsior
June 5
Join other enthusiasts for a gathering of rare and valuable classic automobiles, watercraft, and motorcycles along the shore of Lake Minnetonka. The Concours will also feature retail vendors, fine food, live music and much more. Proceeds will benefit the ICA Food Shelf. ICA clients find themselves struggling to make ends meet. Most of ICA’s clients work, but do not make enough money to cover the basic needs of their families. Some are able to achieve financial stability rather quickly, while others require ongoing assistance and support.

North Star Bicycle Festival. Photo courtesy of North Star Bicycle Festival

North Star Bicycle Festival. Photo courtesy of North Star Bicycle Festival

North Star Bicycle Festival
Various Cities
June 10–19
Cyclists from around the world will be arriving in Minnesota for the 18th Annual North Star Bicycle Festival. More than 300 of the best pro and elite cyclists in North America are expected to participate in the seven-day festival which will be held in six host cities around central Minnesota. Check the website for a complete list of events for each location; in addition to races, spectators can also enjoy a variety of activities throughout the day. Live music, food trucks, and a beer garden will create a festive atmosphere for the thousands of fans. The North Star Bicycle Festival features a bike and fitness expo at each venue. You’ll find all the latest and greatest gear and gadgets, information on clubs, programs and events, and much more. While you’re browsing the expo, be sure to pick up a North Star Bicycle Festival T-shirt, all sales benefit Special Olympics Minnesota.

Celebrate Pride Month
Macy’s, Downtown Minneapolis
June 10
Join Macy’s in a celebration of Pride! Enjoy a live performance by Ovation Choir or test your game of luck by playing Drag Queen Bingo to win Macy’s prizes (to RSVP for bingo, call 1-800-329-8667). Other activities include informal modeling and a photo/love message wall. Enjoy some passed bites as you celebrate Pride in the department store!

36th Annual Art on The Lake. Photo by Marnie Swenson, MJFotography, Inc.

36th Annual Art on The Lake. Photo by Marnie Swenson, MJFotography, Inc.

36th Annual Art on the Lake
Commons Park, Excelsior
June 11–12
This popular event showcases a wide array of high-quality art and crafts, both contemporary and traditional. More than 140 artists will be featured as Excelsior Art on the Lake favorites return to this juried show with artists from across the country as well distinguished local artists. Contemporary and traditional works in jewelry, wood, painting, ceramics, glass, sculpture, fiber arts and mixed media will be featured. In addition to art, the two-day festival also showcases local musicians, local food vendors, and a craft beer and wine booth in a scenic and comfortable outdoor lakeside setting.

MSRA Back to the 50's. Photo by J. Markovich

MSRA Back to the 50’s. Photo by J. Markovich

MSRA Back to the ’50s
Minnesota State Fairgrounds, St. Paul
June 17–19
$8 advance tickets
This show, presented by the Minnesota Street Rod Association, has packed this enormous venue with 12,000 street rods, hot rods, customs, classic trucks, restos, street machines, and a few oddball rods that defy any category except cool. Weather never stops spectators who attend year after year, and this year there are over 300 vendors who provide a fabulous shopping experience for all the attendees. Daily events, entertainment, Kids World, Swap Meet, and more happening are happening every day.

Nine Nights of Music
Minnesota History Center, St. Paul
June 28–August 30
The popular series, now in its 19th year, presents the rich and vibrant rhythms and sounds of Minnesota’s multi-cultural community at free outdoor performances at the Minnesota History Center. Listen to infectious music and get out your dancing shoes for saucy salsa, soulful Motown, and classic big band swing! Bring a chair or blanket and a picnic, or purchase food from the History Center’s Cafe Minnesota (no outside alcohol is permitted). In case of rain, performances will be held inside the History Center’s 3M Auditorium.

Sweeney Todd
Mill City Museum, Minneapolis
July 15–24
Starting at $50
Join Mill City Summer Opera for its fifth season with a production of Sweeney Todd. Audiences will enjoy watching a Stephen Sondheim classic in the Mill City Museum Ruin Courtyard this summer — sit and gaze under the stars as you are transported to 19th century London.

Artistic Director David Lefkowich says performing an opera in the Mill City ruins makes it incredibly immediate. “In most opera houses, you have the orchestra pit separating audience from performers,” he says. “This is a very shallow space so the immediacy of the production is so clear. There is grand opera in there, but it’s right in your lap. And, being outdoors is always a delight; any opportunity in Minneapolis to be outside and it’s not raining or snowing is just terrific.”

But the ruins also presents a planning challenge for Mill City Opera, and has forced Lefkowich to rethink all of the conventions and clichés he associates with opera and redo them. “We have no curtain, and there is the sun, so it’s not a blackout,” he says. “All of a sudden, some givens are changed.”

Those changes also work their way into the story. As Lefkowich says, they always twist things around a bit at Mill City, especially pieces that people are familiar with. Meaning, if you’ve seen Sweeney Todd before, this is going to feel very different. “I think the biggest thing is, if anyone has seen the beautiful Latté Da production, we are going to use a lot of blood,” he says, before adding that there will likely be a splash zone in the first few rows. “The idea of the blood and the idea of the horror is going to play very strongly in this production. We are going to play with expectations versus what they will actually see. The production is also set on a giant meat grinder, which is just an ironic joy of working in the Mill City.”

For those doubting that Sweeney Todd be performed as an opera, Lefkowich shushes naysayers. “With opera, things happen a little slower,” he says. “With Sweeney Todd, there are moments where things slow down and we get to dig into the pathos of the performers. It’s exciting for people to see it’s not just theater people that can act, opera people can act. I’ve always been wanting to do this as an opera, the power of the music needs an operatic performer.”

But don’t think that just because it’s opera, you need to come dressed to the nines in the summer heat. In fact, Mill City Summer Opera proudly advertises a “come as you are” dress code. “I think I’m the most dressed up person there, but everyone else come as you are,” Lefkowich laughs. “If you’re going to sit outside for three hours, you wear what you want to wear. The formality has been taken away because we are not in an opera house. It’s a grand space, but it’s not a formal space. That’s actually really important that we relax the rigidity of some opera houses. You don’t have to pay a lot of money, you don’t have to get dressed up.”

American Association All-Star Game
CHS Field, St. Paul
August 2
Starting at $9
The last time the St. Paul Saints hosted the American Association All-Star game, the winningest pitcher in franchise history, Charlie Ruud, got the start for the North and pitched 2.0 perfect innings. That was seven years ago and in a different ballpark. Now, the All-Star Game is returning to St. Paul! Festivities will start with a home run derby the night before (Aug. 1), with youth baseball players from around the Twin Cities in the outfield to shag baseballs. There will also be a celebrity softball game before the home run derby, and music will close out the night. Then, The American Association All-Star Game is set for 7:05 p.m. on Aug. 2. Following the game, fans can take in a fireworks display.

Paws on Grand
Grand Avenue, St. Paul
August 7
Celebrate the dog days of summer on St. Paul’s Grand Avenue with Paws on Grand. Grand Avenue businesses partner with local rescue groups to pamper and celebrate four-legged friends all along the avenue. Gather up giveaways, relax on a pet-friendly restaurant patio, learn about pet adoption, support rescue groups, and pose for the popular pet photo contest!

Beer Dabbler. Photo by Daniel Murphy

Beer Dabbler. Photo by Daniel Murphy

8th Annual Summer Beer Dabbler
CHS Field, St. Paul
August 20
Dabblers will join fellow beer lovers for an afternoon of sampling craft beer from over 65 breweries, eating delicious food from some of the Twin Cities best food trucks, and enjoying live music. At this year’s Summer Beer Dabbler, ticket holders have the opportunity to sample a variety of spirits from local, regional, and national distilleries at the Spirits Sampling Corner (located in the left field corner of CHS Field).

Japanese Lantern Lighting Festival. Photo by Jeff Henningsgaard Photography

Japanese Lantern Lighting Festival. Photo by Jeff Henningsgaard Photography

Japanese Lantern Lighting Festival
Como Park Zoo & Conservatory, St. Paul
August 21
Because of the huge crowd last year, the event is expanding. The footprint of the festival will be larger: more food vendors, more martial artists, more vendors. The Festival encompasses Japanese tradition through music, dance, crafts, martial arts, and, of course, lanterns. Entertainment will include several taiko drumming groups, koto (Japanese sitar), and traditional and contemporary dance and singing. Martial arts, Ikebana (Japanese flower arranging), and a host of other cultural exhibits and demonstrations will line several paths throughout the grounds. Delicious Japanese food and dozens of culturally related items will be for sale. The day will culminate at dusk with the main event — the lantern lighting. Stone lanterns as well as hundreds of folded paper lanterns throughout the Japanese Garden pond and Frog pond will create a vision of peacefulness and harmony to commemorate the dead.

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