How To Have A Grand Ol’ Day In Saint Paul This June

Photos courtesy of the Grand Avenue Business Association
Photos courtesy of the Grand Avenue Business Association

After three years of being unable to kick off summer with Grand Old Day due to the pandemic, it returns this year on June 4th from 9:30 AM-6:00 PM for its 50th anniversary! According to co-chair Brian Wagner, the committee organizing the event felt that the health of our community is more important than the strong desire to gather and maintain this treasured tradition. 

This is the largest one-day festival in the Midwest attracting over 200,000 guests. Visitors can expect Minnesota State Fair-style crowds running up and down two miles of the three mile Grand Old Day corridor of Grand Avenue. Familiar attractions will include the parade, entertainment stages at Billy’s and Red Rabbit, as well as a family area at Hidden River Junior High. New or returning festival attractions include a car show, a two-mile fun run, a pride stage, a major media sponsored stage, a pickleball exhibition match, a cornhole tournament, dog races, a non-profit and artisan corridor, a high school stage sponsored by School of Rock, and a mocktail garden. 

Grand Old Day is proud to kick off Pride Month on the first weekend of June.

The fun run will begin just west of Snelling Avenue and end at Dale beginning at 8:00 AM. The 85-100 entries in the parade will begin at 9:30 AM and last approximately until 11:00 AM. The parade includes everything from the Saint Paul Winter Carnival Bouncing Team to dignitaries, marching bands, floats, and our local Vulcans. The Vulcans are a group of local performers that exist based on an intriguing Winter Carnival legend that is worth reading about. There will be a few parade surprises to celebrate the 50th anniversary. There are reportedly many people who have experienced meeting their significant other from across the intersection, so single attendees may find themselves in the midst of a Hallmark-style meet cute. 

Families can play on the western end of Grand in dozens of inflatables, bungee trampolines, petting zoo, and by watching dog races. The School of Rock Stage will occur in the Patagonia parking lot and the dog races will happen at high noon on the Macalester College campus. Children can create their own art at the local Junior High. As visitors wander east, artisans can be found selling their wares and our lovely Twin Cities non-profits will be recruiting and fundraising. Multiple local and regional artists will be represented in the artisan corridor from Hamline to Snelling. One local artist is coordinating live performance art and hands-on art making to engage with the visitors and artists who are present. 

Grand Old Day will host stages and beer gardens along with a diverse musical lineup that will be announced in May. Attendees may even see some WWF-style wrestling. There will be a wide variety of food that includes Midwestern fair classics such as offerings from restaurants on Grand, hot cheese curds, corn dogs, mini donuts, and ice cream. Grand Old Day looks forward to welcoming Justin Sutherland with his new sandwich shop, the Big E, on Grand Avenue. Justin Sutherland is an acclaimed Twin Cities Chef that opened the first location of the Big E in Portland, Oregon last year. This gourmet sandwich shop will inhabit the former Grand Pizzeria space located next to Grand Ole Creamery. Justin Sutherland won “Iron Chef America” and owns other Twin Cities restaurants like the Handsome Hog. Big E is named after Biggie Smalls, one of Justin Sutherland’s favorite rappers. All of the sandwiches are named for certain musicians or songs that he loves like “Her Name is Yoshimi”, which melds scrambled egg with pickled daikon, lump crab, bean sprout, scallions, and miso aioli. Eggs appear to be a central theme in the menu.

On September 10th, Grand Avenue will host Paws on Grand which includes Weiner dog races, a pet marketplace, and pet portraits. Several rescue organizations attend and host doggie kissing booths. Grand Avenue also hosts the Grand Meander in December which features holiday markets, caroling, and visits to Santa. 

Many thanks to festival co-chair Brian Wagner for making this event and article possible. We appreciate his passion for community building and supporting Twin Cities small businesses. The Reimagine Grand Old Day Task Force aims to continue the event in a sustainable fashion from which to grow that also prioritizes engaging community residents and promotes Grand Avenue as a world-class destination for shopping, entertainment, and dining. More information can be found at or the event Facebook page.

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