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7 Mouthwatering Summer Food Festivals

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Visit the West End Market at the Minnesota State Fair / Minnesota State Fair

7 Mouthwatering Summer Food Festivals

By Andrew Zimmern

Minnesota summers may be short, but we never take a sunny day for granted. We jam-pack June-September with events celebrating the food, drink, art and music that make Minnesota an amazing place to live.

You might already know that my favorite food festival on earth is the Minnesota State Fair. But there are several other culinary celebrations around the state that are worth checking out.​

  1. Uptown Food Truck Festival, Minneapolis
    Burrito held up at festival

    The "Indurrito" from Hot Indian is a Indian burrito wrapped with house-made roti / @amyfoodadventures

    Uptown Food Truck Festival, Minneapolis

    A fleet of food trucks combines forces at this festival, which has showcased everything from green papaya salad to mini doughnuts in the past. Not to mention loads of locally brewed craft beer and multi-faceted live music.

    While Minneapolis' artful Uptown neighborhood was the festival's flagship draw at first, it has now expanded to such nearby cities as Anoka, St. Paul and Hopkins. Check out the festival's current schedule here, and be sure to go with a group. That way, you can try a bite of something from tons of vendors without stuffing yourself.

  2. Sauerkraut Days, Henderson
    Sauerkraut Days, Henderson

    Old world, and yet so of the times (probiotics!), I adore sauerkraut. There’s no better place to celebrate this fermented food than at Henderson’s Sauerkraut Days. It’s got small-town charm in spades — a parade, kraut royalty, tractor rides — but with a few unexpected extras, like wiener dog races and a kraut-eating contest

  3. Wild Rice Festival, Deer River
    Wild Rice Festival, Deer River

    Minnesota — the Land of 10,000 Lakes, loons, Paul Bunyan and, of course, wild rice. Deer River hosts the world’s biggest wild rice celebration that’s been going strong for more than 70 years! There’s a pow-wow presented by the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, carnival rides and a wild rice dinner hosted at the local Methodist church. It doesn’t get more Minnesotan than that.

    While wild rice takes center stage, you’d be remiss to skip the annual turtle feed, hosted by the local Sportsman’s Club. No, you don’t feed turtles. They feed you. Snapping turtle stew. Really.

  4. All Pints North, Duluth
    Beer and Aerial Lift Bridge

    All Pints North is Duluth's hugely popular summer beer festival on the shore of Lake Superior / Minnesota Brewers Guild

    All Pints North, Duluth

    With its stunning Lake Superior views, amazing hiking and laid-back culture, you barely need an excuse to head up to Duluth. But in case you’re looking for one, check out All Pints North, the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild’s hugely popular summer beer festival. Unlimited craft beer samples, local food vendors and live music are all conveniently located at Bayfront Festival Park.

  5. Minnesota Garlic Festival, Hutchinson
    Minnesota Garlic Festival, Hutchinson

    Garlic evangelists flock to Hutchinson every August to indulge in their favorite stinky ingredient. Sample garlic-infused cuisine from big names in Twin Cities dining; past vendors have included Tilia, Birchwood CafeAlma and Common Roots.

    The best part? This is a zero-waste event, meaning if you can’t take it home, it’s recycled, reused or composted.

  6. Potato Days, Barnesville
    Potato Days, Barnesville

    A zany mix of fun events, tasty food and an overall ode to the potato. Start with a potato favorite and enjoy Norwegian lefse, potato sausage, potato dumplings and, of course, French fries. Then, take part in the festivities by entering the potato-peeling contest, watching a mashed potato wrestling match, or cheering on the contestants in a competitive sew and sack competition. Can you say "spud"-riffic?

  7. Minnesota State Fair, St. Paul
    Chocolate chip cookie cone from Sweet Martha's Cookie Jar at the Minnesota State Fair

    Nothing says "summer" like a heaping cone of fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies from Sweet Martha's Cookie Jar at the Minnesota State Fair. / @hazel_starlene

    Minnesota State Fair, St. Paul

    My favorite Minnesota food celebration, hands down. I adore the Minnesota State Fair so much that I try to go all 12 days. Every year there’s a list of new food booths, but I dig on the classics. Sweet Martha’s Cookies, Speedy’s About a Foot Long Hot Dog, the Gizmo (an Italian torpedo sandwich), Original Cheese Curds, Kiwanis malts, frozen cider pops in the horticulture building and deep fried pickles … you simply cannot go wrong.

    Is it August yet?

Andrew Zimmern

Andrew Zimmern is a three-time James Beard Award-winning TV personality, chef, food writer and teacher, who is widely regarded as one of the most versatile and knowledgeable personalities in the food world. As the creator, host and co-executive producer of Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods” series, he travels the globe, exploring food in its own terroir. Andrew resides in Minneapolis with his wife Rishia, son Noah and several un-eaten pets. Learn more at andrewzimmern.com.