Actors at the annual Defeat of Jesse James Days in Northfield

Find Unforgettable Fun at Southern Minnesota Fairs & Festivals

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The annual Defeat of Jesse James Days reenactment in Northfield

Find Unforgettable Fun at Southern Minnesota Fairs & Festivals

By Southern Minnesota Tourism Association

As vaccines and ongoing precautions like facemasks and social distancing help usher in the return of outdoor events, let southern Minnesota entertain you at its fairs and festivals. Have fun and create unforgettable memories at these summer celebrations across the region.

  1. Bavarian Blast, New Ulm
    Hermann the German monument in New Ulm

    Hermann the German stands tall over New Ulm / Brett Whaley

    Bavarian Blast, New Ulm

    A celebration of German heritage in New Ulm, Bavarian Blast features German-style bands, old-time, rock and country music. It all takes place in mid-July in the “polka tent” at the Brown County Fairgrounds. Plenty of food and drink options appeal to all tastes. Craft shows, souvenir sales, children's games, a fun run and the Grande Parade on Sunday make this a highlight of summer travel to southern Minnesota.

  2. Boats & Bluegrass, Winona
    Night concert Boats and Bluegrass Winona

    2018 Boats and Bluegrass Festival / Tim McG Photography & Video

    Boats & Bluegrass, Winona

    Nestled in the bluffs of the Mississippi River just outside of downtown Winona, Boats and Bluegrass is a unique, three-day music, camping and canoeing festival. Music begins Thursday evening and continues through Sunday morning, with a lineup that always includes some of Minnesota's finest bluegrass artists. On Friday and Saturday of the festival, Winona State staff lead educational group canoe trips into the backwaters of the Mississippi, with all necessary equipment (canoe, paddles and life vest) included in the cost of a weekend pass. Pitch your tent at Prairie Island Campground, or canoe into the backwaters of the Mississippi to find a more secluded spot. 

  3. County Fairs
    Midway at the Brown County Fair

    The Ferris wheel looms over the midway at the Brown County Fair / Kyle Krenz

    County Fairs

    From red, white and blue old-fashioned fun to top-notch entertainment, each of southern Minnesota's 36 county fairs offers its own distinct flavor. Carnival rides, agriculture and livestock competitions, and plenty of food are among the many things that make these events popular family outings. Thanks to the concentration of small towns and farming communities in the southern part of the state, fairs in this region are definitely worth the trip. For a full list of county fairs, visit

  4. Defeat of Jesse James Days, Northfield
    Reenactor at Defeat of Jesse James Days

    Reenactors play out the Jesse James Gang robbery of First National Bank in Northfield

    Defeat of Jesse James Days, Northfield

    The townspeople of Northfield re-enact the James-Younger Gang's notorious 1876 attempted bank raid of the First National Bank at this annual event. Daily reenactments with live actors, real horses and fake bullets take place on Division Street outside the original First National Bank building in downtown Northfield. Visit the Northfield Historical Society to see artifacts related to the raid, including an original gun used in the gunfight outside the bank.

  5. International Festival, Worthington
    A group of kids watching a Chinese lion dance at the Worthington International Festival

    A Chinese lion dance at the Worthington International Festival / Jesse Trelstad Daily Globe

    International Festival, Worthington

    The International Festival in Worthington celebrates the many cultures that call this southwest Minnesota town home. The festival takes place annually in July at the Nobles County Government Center lawn in downtown Worthington. Live music from folk and traditional artists, food from around the world, children’s activities and much more make it an unmissable event.

  6. Mankato Ribfest, Mankato
    Man cooking ribs at Mankato Ribfest

    Cooking ribs for the annual Mankato Ribfest festival and competition / SPX Sports

    Mankato Ribfest, Mankato

    Held on the banks of the Minnesota River in downtown Mankato, this summer festival brings ribbers from across the country to southern Minnesota. Attendees can taste and judge any number of sticky, spicy and flavorful ribs; listen to live music in the Vetter Stone outdoor amphitheater; and bring the kids for games and other fun entertainment, rain or shine.

  7. Water Ski Days, Lake City
    Twelve water skiers in the process of making a human pyramid

    Waterskiing was invented in Lake City, and is celebrated there every June during Water Ski Days / Ben Threinen

    Water Ski Days, Lake City

    Known as the birthplace of waterskiing, Lake City celebrates the 1922 invention of the sport during Water Ski Days on Lake Pepin in southeast Minnesota every June. Take in a water ski show on the lake and listen to live entertainment during this three-day celebration. Fun for the whole family includes a classic car show, carnival and Grand Parade on Sunday afternoon.

  8. Wilder Pageant, Walnut Grove
    The Wilder Pageant in Walnut Grove

    The Wilder Pageant in Walnut Grove

    Wilder Pageant, Walnut Grove

    The annual Wilder Pageant is a family-oriented outdoor drama based on the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Presented every July on the banks of Plum Creek, west of Walnut Grove at the hillside amphitheater, the nightly live performance stars Laura narrating the story of her life in Walnut Grove in the 1870s. Former cast members from the 1970s television drama “Little House on the Prairie” attend the pageant and are recognized each night during the show.

Southern Minnesota Tourism Association

Southern Minnesota has plenty of other fun indoor attractions, tons of upcoming festivals and events, and countless places to dine. And if you’re looking to stay overnight, there are plenty of affordable lodging options. Plan your southern Minnesota escape today.