This article is supported by the Southern Minnesota Tourism Association.
Let southern Minnesota entertain you at its fairs and festivals. Have fun and create unforgettable memories at these summer celebrations across the region.
Southern Minnesota boasts 36 county fairs. From red, white and blue old-fashioned fun to top-notch entertainment, each fair 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 mfcf.com.
Wilder Pageant, Walnut Grove
Celebrating its 41st year, the 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.
International Festival, Worthington
The International Festival in Worthington celebrates the many cultures who call this southwest Minnesota town home. This colorful festival takes place annually in July at the Nobles County Government Center lawn in downtown Worthington. A talent contest, music and food from around the world, children’s activities and much more make it an event not to miss.
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.
Mankato RibFest, Mankato
Mankato’s RibFest brings ribbers from across the country to southern Minnesota. Held on the banks of the Minnesota River in downtown Mankato, this summer festival offers attendees the chance to taste and judge the 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.
Kolacky Days, Montgomery
Kolacky Days celebrates Montgomery's Czechoslovakian heritage and culture by blending the Czech traditions of the past with today's festival favorites. From authentic Kroj costumes, Czech dancing, Bohemian tractor pull, classic car show, to a Grand Day Parade, carnival and sporting events, there's something for everyone at Kolacky Days.
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.
Water Ski Days, Lake City
Known as the birthplace of waterskiing, Lake City celebrates the 1922 invention of the sport 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.
Boats & Bluegrass Festival, Winona
On the banks of the Mississippi River, nestled in the bluffs of Winona, the Boats and Bluegrass Festival takes place in Prairie Island Park. The park offers the perfect setting for this three-day outdoor music festival. Bring a tent and enjoy camping on the grounds, or take a canoe trip out into the backwaters of the Mississippi River.
Southern Minnesota has so many fun fairs and festivals, find more places to visit at ExploreSouthernMinnesota.com.