Now that the fourth is over, I bet your summer weekends are just stretching out in front of you. Sure you’ve got city things to do, farmers markets to stroll, paths to bike, but sometimes the open road calls, and hopefully there are some tasty beverages and snacks at the end of it. Here are some quick picks for where to point your car in the next 6 weeks.
>> Hopped Up Caribou Beer Fest is happening THIS WEEKEND up in Lutsen. This isn’t some random gathering of lumberjacks around a few kegs (though, there will be beards and flannel). This beer fest is one of the best, drawing craft brewers from all over the state and giving beer fans lots of access to hang with them.
Fitger’s master brewer Dave Hoops says, “What I love about it, is they take care of the brewers better than any other festival I know. It’s kind of like a best-kept secret thing. I don't go to many festivals if I don’t have to but I never miss this one. They were ahead of their time as far as putting really great food paired with beer and then making it a weekend. It’s really, really cool. … When people have to sign up for brewfests for the year it’s always the first one to get filled up.”
“This year I’m bucking trends. I’m jokingly saying ‘Dave Hoops will no longer pour hoppy beers'. I’m bringing four fruit beers up there, none hoppy. Patio Beer (Mexican lager with lime zest), Apricot Wheat, Yellow Jersey (every year I make this beer for the Tour de France, German hefeweizen with blood orange), Red Wheat and Blue (cherry, raspberry, and blueberry in a wheat beer). I’m entertaining myself with this. It’s pretty ridiculous.”
Overnight packages are still available if you want to whoop it up in style and crash at the Lodge (from $149 for two nights), but single day tickets for Saturday’s haul of live music, tons of beer and brewers, food for purchase and more are $29 in advance and $40 at the door.
>> Berne’s Outdoor Pizza and Concert Series happens on Wednesday nights in Berne, a little town sort of between Faribault and Rochester. In this little churchyard you order your pizza between 5-8pm, and the music starts around 6:30. There’s about 6 pizzas to choose from, ranging from $16-$20, and they only take cash. But they encourage you to bring your own beer or wine, and there are some picnic tables, but it’s good to bring your own set up. Check out their FB page for updates, but this is rain or shine.
>> Blue Collar BBQ & Arts Festival blows it up in Faribault on August 8th. While there are tons of BBQ fests all over the state this month, this one is a nice drive to a cute old town you probably haven't been to. Taking over the quaint Main Street, this fest combines an art market with live music, beer garden, washers toss tournament, and bbq festival. The best of summer on one street.
>> Potato Days in Barnseville aren’t until August 28-29th, but start planning, because some 20,000 people come to this festival for the Miss Tater Tot pageant, mashed potato wrestling, potato car racing, a potato stacking competition, and more. Of course there will be live music and a town parade, but also all the lefse, French fries, and potato dumplings you can manage.