Free Music at the Fairgrounds

It’s not all polka bands on the State Fair’s non-Grandstand stages.

Blue Oyster Cult

The fair packs its non-Grandstand stages with free music all day and night, but you might be surprised by the quality of the acts. Here are some highlights, all of which you’d pay to see anywhere else:

Leinie Lodge Bandshell*:

Aug. 24–25: Blue Oyster Cult See the 1970s prog-metal rockers here or in an arena. Your choice.
Aug. 28–29: Sheila E. Will Prince make a guest appearance? No. But still.
Aug. 30–31: Robert Randolph & the Family Band They’ve played the Grandstand in the past and could put on the best free show of the summer.
*Shows start at 8:30 pm.

Bazaar Stage*:

Aug. 22–23: Socaholix “Soca” music is a Caribbean blend of calypso and soul, and it rocks pretty hard.
Aug. 26–27: Lost Highway It’s simply one of the best young country bands around.
Aug. 30–31: The New Primitives Easily the best reggae band in Minnesota.
*Shows are at 7:30 and 8:45 pm.

Heritage Stage*:

Aug. 22–23: Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles A local favorite, Lucy Michelle never disappoints.
Aug. 24–25: Pert Near Sandstone One of Minnesota’s best contemporary bluegrass bands.
Aug. 28–29: Billy McLaughlin The finger-style guitar wizard had to relearn guitar after losing control of his left hand due to dystonia.
Aug. 30–31: Pieta Brown and the Stardust Collective Singer/songwriter Greg Brown’s daughter is doing very well for herself.
Sept. 1–2: Chastity Brown Definitely a singer/songwriter to watch. And hear.
*Show times vary.

For Fans of Furiously Fast Fingerwork:

Aug. 24–25: State Fiddle Contest
Aug. 30–31: Minnesota Flatpicking Guitar and Duet Championships
For full schedules, go to