September 30, 2011
Fall foliage, apples and pumpkins, Halloween—the weather is changing, and so is the nature of the festivals. There’s a lot happening around the state in October. It’s a prime time for art festivals, many of which are in scenic towns sure to be surrounded by fall colors. Don’t forget to check the Minnesota Historical Society’s event page; they’ve always got something interesting going on.
Sept. 30-Oct. 1, Oct. 7-8
This little town with rich German heritage celebrates each October with tons of good German food and music, and open-house tours of the Schell Brewery, the Wanda Gag House, the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame, and the Morgan Creek Winery.
South St. Paul
On the Road Again Festival
Southview Boulevard is home to this annual festival, which includes a petting zoo, rides, flea market, car show—and booya competition.
Big Island Rendezvous and Festival
An enormous re-enactment of life in early America, including food, music, and demonstrations of early American crafts.
Fri-Sun each weekend in October, also Oct. 20 and 27
Valleyfair turns into ValleySCARE in October. During the daylight hours, gentle attractions the Trick or Treat Trails and coloring contests are appropriate for young children, while the evening hours ramps up the terror with seven haunted attractions and—perhaps most terrifying of all—the Wild Thing rollercoaster.
Haunted Ship Tours
Open several dates in October, click above for details
For October, the William A. Irvin isn’t just a historical ship—it’s a haunted ship, complete with its own Maze of Terror.
Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon
A true Twin Cities event, this starts at the Metrodome in Minneapolis and finishes near the State Capitol in St. Paul. Inspiring to watch and cheer on, if you’re not already enrolled as a marathoner.
Fall Color Chairlift Rides
View fall colors and the rise of the full moon by enjoying a scenic ride on the chairlifts at Hyland Ski Reserve. Live music and food available as well.
Halloween Capital of the World
Is Anoka really the Halloween capital of the world? Does it matter? With parades, costume contests, bingo, wine tastings, medallion hunt, pumpkin-carving and house-decorating contests, the city of Anoka does get into the spirit.
Twin Cities Book Festival
Book readings and signings, book sales, and vendors selling all things book. This year’s authors include Diana Abu-Jaber, Tess Gallagher, and National Book Award-winner Jaimy Gordon. Bring a big, durable totebag for your purchases. Maybe I’ll see you there.
Shadows and Spirits of the Capitol
Oct. 20-22, 27-29
Pre-Halloween evening tours of the Capitol, which will be lit similarly to its early days, where “ghosts” of the past tell visitors stories about the Capitol’s history.
Moose poetry contests, moose comic contests, a moose medallion hunt, scavenger hunts, arts activities for the young and old, food, music, and of course one of the most scenic spots in Minnesota.
Music, crafts, treats, Scarecrow Alley—a jolly good way for the little ones to ease into trick-or-treating routines.
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September 29, 2011
Guess where I was
Timeshare sales pitch? Condo open house?
Chanhassen’s AutoMotorPlex monthly (seasonally, anyway) open house.
The AutoMotorPlex is kind of like a group of condos–condos for cars, that is. You’ve got high-end or vintage cars and not enough space to properly house them? This is the place to go.
The first Saturday of each month from April-October, AutoMotorPlex hosts a free car show. That means this weekend is your last chance until next spring to see how the other half drives. It’s open from 8-11 a.m.
I have to admit I attended this only to entertain Teen 2, who likes what he calls “fancypants cars” or “Kool Kat Kars” (the Ks are all his). Me? Cars are a necessary evil, a dumpster on wheels. I drive a VW Beetle (Gecko green), which is one of the few vehicles that amuses me. High-end cars, like Porsches, Jaguars, and BMWs kind of bore me, to be honest. Teen 2 likes them, so we had a fun outing.
Those are pretty sweet bikes. I have to admit, I didn’t expect to see as many vintage cars as I did, and it turns out I really, really like vintage vehicles.
In fact, I lust after a vintage VW minibus. How cute is that??? Come on! It’s a dream.
Some cars were displayed outdoors, others were in the owner’s garage. The garages were spectacularly clean, and in some cases, clearly have become a home away from home.
If you’re really into cars, you can bring the whole family out to your garage to hang out in your spare time.
The balcony behind the cars is fully equipped with TV and furniture for most excellent hanging-out.
I could love a car like this.
I think these electric cars look like sci-fi snowplows.
How fun would it be to go on a Sunday fall colors drive in this little cutie?
Ah well. I doubt I’ll ever have the funds for any of these, but it was surprisingly fun to check them out. So–this Saturday, 8-11 a.m., Chanhassen. The weather forecast looks great, and there are worse ways to spend a beautiful fall morning.
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September 23, 2011
I love this time of year. Autumn is my favorite season. It is also pathetically short, wedged between hot summer and the menace of winter.
The colors are changing, and as always, the Minnesota DNR is keeping tabs with their fall color reports. Find your region, and GO OUTSIDE!
Posted at 10:12 AM in Nature | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
September 15, 2011
Books and Bars adds the ‘Burbs
Oh, I am SO EXCITED about this:
Books and Bars, the brainchild of Jeff Kamin, is coming to the ‘burbs! Normally it’s held at the Aster Cafe in Minneapolis. (Which, I hasten to add, is a most excellent venue.) If you’ve never been, it’s a huge amount of fun. Jeff picks the books, and does a good amount of research about the book and its author. The rest of us show up, eat, drink, and talk about the book in a moderated discussion. A couple of days ago the book was The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall, which generated a lively talk (not always G-rated, but hey, it’s in a bar!).
Last month was the book Room by Emma Donoghue. I really wanted to go, but I had a crazy stressful week that week, and the thought of driving through rush hour traffic from the southwest suburbs wore me down. Crabby, I thought, geez, I wish there was a Books and Bars out here. And then, in one of those wonderful light-bulb-on moments, I thought, hey, maybe Jeff would bring the show out here.
And voila! That’s exactly what’s happening. The details from the press release are below. I’ll be there on Oct. 4, Andrew Davidson’s The Gargoyle in hand, ready to eat, drink, and talk books. Won’t you join me?
Moderator Jeff Kamin will bring his unique take on a public book club show to a new venue, The School II, every 1st Tuesday of the month. Ann Clifford, owner of The School of the Wise and The School II, called Books & Bars “one of the greatest concepts,” and is looking forward to “really talking about the books.” Kamin added, “I’m excited to share our lively discussions in a wine bar, you know, for the anti-oxidants. With a new audience, no two discussions are alike. Looking forward to your thoughts on literature.”
First Tues of the month @ The School II
600 Market St, Chanhassen, Minnesota 55317
Tuesday, October 4th 6 – 7pm dinner/social 7 – 8:30pm
free book discussion with Moderator Jeff Kamin
October Pick:The Gargoyleby Andrew Davidson
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September 09, 2011
So if one’s been to Taylors Falls and gone hiking and worked up an appetite, where should one get a bite to eat?
The Drive In in Taylors Falls, of course.
It even has a little tribute to the natural wonders just down the road. Also, way in the back? Mini golf. Eat at the Drive In, and you can get a two-for-one coupon. If you’re not too tired from hiking. Ahem.
Gotta love a drive in with a giant rotating mug of root beer. Speaking of root beer…
Teen 2 went for the root beer float. He gave it two thumbs up, saying it had “a pleasing balance of ice cream and root beer.” Yes, that’s a direct quote. He says that most places go way too light on the ice cream, but not the Drive In. I went for the plain old frosty mug of root beer, no ice cream, but very refreshing nonetheless.
Forgive the red tones–we were under a bright red light. That’s Teen 2’s pizza burger, something he’d never had before, but proclaimed to be very tasty.
I went with the patty melt, which was satisfyingly greasy and messy and hard to eat.
While we waited and then ate, the Drive In blared popular 50s songs, and it turns out–who knew? Not me–that Teen 2 is a fan of 50s music. I had no idea. The things you learn on adventures with your teen. In fact, we discovered that we both love the song It’s Not Unusual by Tom Jones. We might have been overheard singing it on the ride home.
Verdict: yes to hiking and yes to the Drive In. And, of course, Tom Jones.
Posted at 07:10 AM in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack (0)
September 06, 2011
Better know a state park
With the arrival of truly autumnal temps this weekend, it was a perfect time to go hiking. So Teen 2 and I packed ourselves up and made haste to Taylors Falls, home to half of Interstate State Park. The other half is across the St. Croix River, in Wisconsin.
It’s a beautiful park with dramatic riverside cliffs, formed by lava flows billions of years ago. They make for fun hiking too, especially for teens who are interested in freerunning and/or parkour.
For a more sedate view, you can take a paddleboat tour.
I have not tried the boat; it looks very relaxing, and someday I will. But I do love hiking around the rocks. I’m not alone in this; there were numerous families out this weekend, some with very young kids (braver than I–I wouldn’t have taken my kids when they were very young for fear of them slipping right off a cliff. Yes, I’m paranoid that way), some older folks, lots of people with very happy dogs. One time I saw a bunch of teenagers dressed as ninjas. Awesome.
Not to mention the glacial potholes. Apparently a century ago, gardens were planted in these geological oddities, an idea the MN DNR is revisiting.
Teen 2 also informed me that planking is so over and the cool thing now is owling.
Not surprisingly, this is also a very popular spot for rock climbing (note: you need a special permit for that).
There’s a good mix of deciduous and coniferous trees along the river, and the leaves on some have already begun to change. Seems early, yes? In any event, over the next few weeks, hiking here should be especially gorgeous.
Just watch out for those parkouring young ‘uns.
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September 04, 2011
The Church Project
Entry in this year’s Fine Arts exhibit at the Minnesota State Fair.
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September 02, 2011
As I mentioned earlier this week, I went to the State Fair last weekend. I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting older, but some of the old favorites just didn’t rouse me this time. I bought some cheese curds, but didn’t eat them all; walked by the fried green tomato stand several times, but was never inspired to stop; I did seek out the fried pickle stand, but was deterred by the long lines. Trust me–long lines have never deterred me from the goodness of a hot-out-of-the-oil fried pickle before.
In general, I wasn’t planning on trying anything new. (Hello, chocolate-covered raw jalapenos? No, thanks. Not even remotely tempted.) However, I read a lot of buzz about this item, and broke down and tried it:
Kushuri, from Holy Land Deli. This is apparently a popular Egyptian street food. Frankly, it’s not the most attractive thing I’ve ever eaten–it looks an awful lot like when I have “clean out the fridge night” in my household. It’s rice, lentils, and macaroni, covered with fried shallots and a mildly spicy tomato sauce. But you know what? It was delicious. The sauce makes it–I talked to someone else who tried it and got very little sauce and found it bland. Well, yeah–rice, macaroni and lentils on their own aren’t terribly exciting. But with the sauce? Hugely satisfying, and a great counter to all the fried foods.
It was especially good with this.
Summit Brewing’s beer on a stick. Quite possibly the best thing ever stuck on a stick and sold at the Fair.
But some traditions can’t be ignored.
Sweet Martha’s chocolate chip cookies. By the bucket, natch.
Oh, I do love the Fair.
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September 01, 2011
Just because Labor Day is right around the corner doesn’t mean Minnesota has shut down for winter. There may not be quite as many festivals—but there are still enough to keep anyone from getting bored. And besides, soon the harvest and Halloween festivals will pop up. Be sure to check the Minnesota Historical Society’s event page; they’ve always got something interesting going on.
Minnesota State Fair
Through Sept. 5
C’mon—you can’t possibly have had your fill of fried cheese curds and beer on a stick yet, have you??
Minnesota Renaissance Fest
Weekends through Oct. 2; also open Labor Day and Friday, Sept. 30
Rowdy jousting, roasted turkey legs, raucous and libidinous comedy, people in costumes—really, what more do you need?
Defeat of Jesse James Days
The infamous Jesse James met his match when he tried to rob the Northfield bank on Sept. 7, 1876. Today his defeat is boisterously remembered with a bank raid re-enactment, hog roast, square dance, steak fry, vintage base ball, and a parade.
Concrete and Grass Music Festival
Lowertown St. Paul hosts this festival with a diverse range of free music: Dessa, Suicide Commandos, the Minnesota Opera, Salsa del Soul, and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, among others.
Harvest Moon Festival
Lumberjack shows, live music, food, and demonstrations of old-time arts (blacksmithing, birch bark basketry, wool spinning, and fire starting, among others), all in this scenic Boundary Waters gateway community.
Greater Moorhead Days
Parades, bocce ball tournaments, live music, food—a full week of fun on the border of North Dakota.
Grape Stomp 2011
Seriously—it’s a grape stomp at a winery (St. Croix Vineyards, to be specific).
St. Paul Classic Bike Tour
Once the RNC is done, it’ll be safe to go back to St. Paul. This is not a race—it’s just a really well thought-out ride through some of the most scenic parts of the Capitol city.
King Turkey Days
All the usual fun stuff (food, music) plus: turkey races.
Mahkato Traditional Pow Wow
Thousands of Native Americans gather here each year for a traditional pow wow, with ceremonial costumes, foods, and crafts.
North Shore Inline Marathon/Half-Marathon
Feeling competitive? Like your inline skates? This one’s for you. Can’t beat the scenery.
Severs Corn Maze
Sat.-Sun., Sept. 17-Oct.30 (also open MEA)
The name says it all: a maze built in a corn field. This year’s maze is a tribute to the recently concluded space shuttle program. Don’t let your kids find the way out faster than you do.
Fall Raptor Release
Visit the Raptor Center in Hastings and see a variety of raptors released back into the wild.