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Virtual Events & Festivals in Minnesota This Summer

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Friends attend a video chat party / © taash - stock.adobe.com

Virtual Events & Festivals in Minnesota This Summer

By Brian Fanelli

For many of us, summer in Minnesota is all about festivals, events and spending time with your pals—AKA, all of the things we won't be doing this year until it's deemed safe by the experts. 

In the meantime, some Minnesota festivals and events have been postponed to help flatten the curve, while others have decided to make like Neo and go digital so we can stay connected while staying apart. Here are a few examples of the creative ways Minnesota events are moving online:

  1. Art-A-Whirl, May 15-The Whole Dang Summer
    Art-A-Whirl dance performance

    A dance performance at the 2016 Art-A-Whirl festival in Northeast Minneapolis

    Art-A-Whirl, May 15-The Whole Dang Summer

    This year, experience everyone's favorite Northeast Minneapolis arts and music festival from the comfort of your couch as Art-A-Whirl Online takes over the internet all summer long. Beginning Friday, May 15 at 5 p.m., the Art-A-Whirl Online website will let you browse and buy from over 800 artist shops (with shipping and curbside pick-up options), attend virtual art demos, studio tours and music performances, and order takeout/delivery from your favorite NEMPLS restaurants and breweries.

  2. Lutsen 99er, June 5-July 12
    Riders on the Lutsen 99er Bike Race

    The Lutsen 99er in Cook County is one of Minnesota's most challenging and scenic bike races / Rod Hasse/Visit Cook County

    Lutsen 99er, June 5-July 12

    Northern Minnesota's most challenging bike race won't go on as planned this year, so to keep its spirit alive they've issued a Lone Wolf Challenge to all prospective riders. The 99er team will mark up four routes (25-, 49, 69- and 99-mile), and you're invited to independently ride the North Woods course that best fits your ability. After you finish the ride, stop into Fika Coffee in Lutsen to pick up a free, commemorative 2020 Lutsen 99er gift made by Wolf Tooth Components. 

  3. Music in the Park, June 11-Aug. 27
    Music in the Park, June 11-Aug. 27

    Over the past 13 years, the first Music in the Park concert of the season was how you knew summer had arrived in the Cuyuna Lakes area. And while they won't be hosting any in-person events this year, you can still celebrate summer by attending these free, family-friendly virtual concerts. Virtual Music in the Park kicks off on June 11 with a concert by JPACK, and continues every second and fourth Thursday through Aug. 27. 

  4. Blueberry/Art Festival, June 15-July 26
    Blueberry pie plate

    A blueberry pie-themed pie plate for sale at Ely's Blueberry/Art Festival / Thomas McDonald Bear Island Art Factory

    Blueberry/Art Festival, June 15-July 26

    The tiny, Up North town of Ely has been hosting this blueberry-themed art and food festival for over 40 years, bringing together hundreds of artists, crafters and makers to celebrate the festival's namesake fruit. But with more than 40,000 annual visitors in prior years, this year the festival is going digital to keep Minnesota safe. Because while you might say the intricately crafted blueberry artwork is to die for, we don't mean that literally. Starting June 15, visit the festival website and Facebook page to connect with your favorite festival artists from your own back yard and enjoy an all-out, pandemic-proof party. 

  5. Roseville in Bloom, July 1-Oct. 31
    Shakun Maheshwari paints her rose statue for Roseville in Bloom

    Local artist Shakun Maheshwari works on her rose statue for Roseville in Bloom / Terra Sura Photography

    Roseville in Bloom, July 1-Oct. 31

    In many ways, Roseville's premier public art crawl is moving forward as if things were normal: 20 artist-designed, seven-foot-tall rose statues will be displayed in outdoor public spaces throughout Roseville for visitors to enjoy throughout the summer and fall. However, to maintain proper social distancing through some of the installation's more popular aspects, some events like the Digital Scavenger Hunt will be done virtually. You can also compete in an Instagram photo contest using the hashtag #RosevilleInBloom.

  6. Kolacky Days, July 24-26
    Kolacky pastries on display at the annual Kolacky Days in Montgomery

    Traditional Czcech Kolacky pastries on display at the annual Kolacky Days celebration in Montgomery / Sarah Dolejs Photography

    Kolacky Days, July 24-26

    Named after the delicious stuffed pastry at the heart of this annual small-town festival, Kolacky Days celebrates the Czechoslovakian heritage and culture of Montgomery, the largest Czech-populated area in Minnesota. For the festival's 86th year, the long-standing celebration will be mostly virtual, with activities such as the Montgomery Mural Reveal from Your Car, the Pet Parade from Your Backyard and the Queen's Pageant from Your Living Room. Details are still forthcoming about the annual Kolacky Eating Contest, but festival organizers are working hard to keep this long-standing tradition on the menu. Stay tuned, and stay hungry.

  7. Minnesota Fringe Festival, July 30-Aug. 9
    Benjamin Domask's "Hodge Podge" at 2019 Family Fringe Festival

    Benjamin Domask's "Hodge Podge" at the 2019 Family Fringe Festival / Dan Norman

    Minnesota Fringe Festival, July 30-Aug. 9

    The Minnesota Fringe Festival has always encouraged innovative storytelling, so when the Midwest's largest performing arts festival announced it was going online this summer, it felt like a natural extension of its commitment to adventurous, multidisciplinary work. During what would have been its regularly scheduled festival time, this year Minnesota Fringe Virtual Festival will present live and recorded events online, offering a unique opportunity to experience adventurous art and virtually connect with artists. 

Brian Fanelli

Brian Fanelli is a writer and editor for Explore Minnesota. When he isn't writing about life in The North, you'll find him browsing the sci-fi shelves in a local bookstore, biking one of Minnesota's spectacular trails or walking his Chihuahua around Minneapolis.