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A Festival for Every Occasion

July 29, 2011 by Hailey Goplen

I was browsing Inforum this morning and scrolled down to where the calendar of events are posted.  What was notable on the calendar was that the first three posts were all festival events: Dilworth Loco Daze, Community Days in Kindred, ND and Turkey Days in Frazee, MN. One thing I’ve noticed about the Upper Midwest is that anything can be a good excuse for a celebration and they typically involve some sort of parade, a pancake breakfast,  a special event unique to only that festival and often a demolition derby. Now, if you know me at all you know that I love nothing more than a good festival or fair. Unfortunately, there are just too many festivals and so little time, so I have not been able to go to many as of yet.

As I began browsing around for other area festivals and fairs, I realized I need to change my priorities around. I composed a bucket list of all that I want to attend before I leave the Midwest. Please know that these are only a few of the hundreds that I found, and if you have any suggestions of festivals and fairs that I should add to my list, please let me know:


  1. Potato Days– Barnesville, Minnesota: Actually, I can check this one off my list. We moved here just in time for the 2010 Potato Days and couldn’t resist going to check out Mashed Potato Wrestling, gorge on french fries during the french fry feed and watch the Miss Tator Tot Pageant.
  2. Norsk Høstfest– Minot, ND: The World’s Largest Scandinavian Festival? Count me in.  Norsk Høstfest celebrates the heritage and culture of the five Nordic countries with entertainment and Nordic food, clothes, art and jewelry.
  3. Minnesota State Fair– The fact that the slogan for the fair is, “The Great Minnesota Get-Together”, makes me fall in love with it even more than I already was. Not only is it the largest state fair in the United States in term of attendance but it is also known for having the greatest number of fair-foods on a stick and if that wasn’t enough, there is a group karaoke sing-along at one point. Oh, my heart be still.
  4. North Dakota State Fair– Minot, ND: Though unfortunately the fair had to be canceled this year due to the terrible flooding in and around Minot, I can’t wait to go next year.
  5. Lobster and Lefse Festival– Fargo, ND: A fundraiser for the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center and the YWCA Cass Clay organized by the FM Rotary Club, this festival combines fresh Main lobster and Norwegian style lefse. Delicious and quirky. My favorite combination.
  6. Mandan Rodeo Days– Mandan, ND: How can I live in the Midwest and not go to a rodeo while I’m here? This one seems like a good one. And pitchfork fondue? I’m sold.
  7. Polar Fest– Detroit Lakes, MN: What do you do when its -32 degrees in February? Jump in a lake of course. I’ve participated in Polar Plunge events before, but not in the Midwest. On top of the plunge, there is Turkey Bowling (what?), Ice Tee Golf, and a 5k Freeze Your Buns Run.
  8. Pie Day– Braham, MN: Apparently, Braham is the homemade pie capital of Minnesota. Activities include a pie eating contest, a pie baking contest, a pie art show and a pie relay. I love pie.
  9. Blueberry Festival– Lake George, MN: Blueberry pancake feed, blueberry ball, blueberry square dance AND an educational booth on blueberries. Blueberry heaven. Have you noticed I love festivals centered around food?
  10. St. Paul Winter Carnival– St. Paul, MN: Ever since watching Mighty Ducks, I have wanted to see castles made of ice. I sculpted a few snowmen and women in my youth, but nothing compared to what these artists can make out of snow.


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  2. Lakegrl says:

    How about WeFest? Pretty legendary in this area.

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  5. Marlyn says:

    I would like to add that the Sauerkraut Day in Wishek has always been a free event.

  6. Marlyn says:

    I have two to suggest. Sauerkraut Day in Wishek in early October and the Buffalo Supper in Streeter late in October.

  7. Former NoDaker says:

    Don’t forget the North Dakota Winter Show in Valley City on March 6-11, 2012! Concerts, Rodeos, local fare and multiple days to choose from!

  8. Dana says:

    Pie Day in Braham is fantastic, however they did run out of pie this year! I live near Braham and am an NDSU alumni. You also just missed the best County Fair in Minnesota and North Dakota, the Pine County Fair… home of the GREATER Minnesota Get Together. I’m loving your stories!

  9. Eric says:

    Fargo / Moorhead has a nice Svandvavien Hjemkomst Festival usually in June

  10. Brian says:

    International Vinegar Festival in Roslyn, SD. They even name a vinegar queen! Also what’s this talk about leaving? You belong to us now.

    • Vinegar Festival? Sounds interesting. :) Not to worry, I won’t be even considering leaving for a few more years. The only problem is my lack of family here, but the people have definitely made it easier… a second family almost. Thanks for reading!

  11. Danielle says:

    The Minnesota State Fair is the BEST! I miss it every year since I moved to Colorado. Everything is on a stick; even the fair map. One of these years I will fly home just so I can go.

  12. Maria says:

    The Minnesota Renaissance Festival in Shakopee, MN ( is one you should check out! My family goes every year in costume of course:) It’s a lot of fun!
    There is also the Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion out in Rollage, MN ( Labor Day. Also lots of fun!

  13. Shannon says:

    The Annual Bologna Cook-off in Minto, ND the Friday of Martin Luther King’s weekend. Judging deer bologna and a cracker whistling contest. This upcoming January will be the 26th annual.

  14. Char says:

    If you need something in the winter, try the Friday night fish fry weekly in Oslo MN

  15. Lee says:

    August the Deuce in Mountain North Dakota! Which is today! Happy Deuce!

  16. Kyle says:

    Don’t forget the tractor and horse pull events at the ND wintershow (there’s a rodeo too!).

    Here’s the schedule of events from 2011:

  17. Andy says:

    The Rosholt Threshing Bee is close to Fargo (1 hour south) and is a great small town event! Starts August 20th…

  18. Sarah says:

    The Chokecherry Festival in Williston North Dakota is a good one to look into as well. It celebrates the chokecherry becoming North Dakota’s state fruit.

  19. J.D. Taylor says:

    Don’t forget one of the grand daddies of them all – the Corn Palace Festival in Mitchell, South Dakota. Since 1892 packing them into the World’s Only Corn Palace for the likes of William Jennings Bryan [1900], John Philip Sousa [1904 & ’07], The Call of the North Radio Band [1923], Jimmy Dorsey [1938], Lawrence Welk [1948, ’54, ’62, ’63, & ’69], Roy Rogers & Dale Evans [1974], The Charlie Daniels Band [1987], The Oakridge Boys [1992], Willie Nelson [2003] and a host of others.

  20. Rick says:

    Eelpout festival in Walker MN. February 2012.

  21. Aaron says:

    Another good festival in North Dakota is The Turkey BBQ in Aneta, North Dakota, home of the largest rotiserie turkey bbq the US has to offer. Gotta love a turkey bbq powered by a boat motor.

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