Music Fests Draw Fall Crowds
Fall is a great time to gather with friends and enjoy artists and genres of all types at music festivals throughout Minnesota. Here is a sampling of fall fests; see the events calendar for more.
Riverblast, New Ulm: August 31 & September 1
New Ulm hosts a Labor Day weekend festival celebrating the Minnesota River with music, a water parade, and other outdoor events at Riverside Park. Music begins on Friday night at 5:00 p.m. with Barefoot Winos and continues with headliners Eric "Guitar" Davis and the Troublemakers. Saturday's lineup, from 11:00 a.m. until midnight, includes Donny Klossner One Man Band, the Little Prairie Pickers, Bockfest Boys, and Smokehouse.
Other highlights include a water parade, paddling rally, canoe obstacle course, bike tour, trolley rides, and a run/walk event. Riverblast events are free. Food and beverages are for sale, and camping is available in the park. For more information, visit www.riverblast.org.
Concrete and Grass Lowertown Music Festival, St. Paul: September 7-9
Lovely Mears Park in downtown St. Paul is the setting for the Concrete and Grass Lowertown Music Festival. Take in jazz, opera, chamber music, rock, dance, roots, and world music with the best Minnesota artists as well as national performers. The free festival celebrates the opening of the performance season and is a partnership of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Minnesota Opera, Ordway Center, Schubert Club, and the Twin Cities Jazz Festival.
Mears is a one-block oasis in the Lowertown neighborhood with shade trees, gardens, a stream, and a band shell. The square is surrounded by historic buildings, restaurants, and bars, some with outdoor seating so al fresco diners can enjoy live performances. Food and beverages are also available in the park during the festival.
Music on Friday goes from happy hour at 3:30 p.m. until 10:00 p.m., and continues all day Saturday and Sunday from noon to 10:00 p.m. Bring a blanket or chair. For more information, visit www.concreteandgrass.com.
Rock Bend Folk Festival, St. Peter: September 8 & 9
The annual Rock Bend Folk Festival is presented at the historic Minnesota Square Park in St. Peter. Free musical performances of blues, bluegrass, and jazz are scheduled from noon to 10:00 p.m. Saturday and noon to 7:00 p.m. Sunday. Children's activities, arts and crafts, and food make this a family-friendly festival that attracts thousands.
Organized by dedicated community members, the festival has become a symbol marking the end of summer and an occasion to gather and experience extraordinary music and art together.
Minnesota Square Park is located along Highway 169 in St. Peter. The festival is free, but donations are accepted. For more information, visit www.rockbend.org or call 507-934-3400 or 800-473-3404.
Unplugged: The Northern Harvest, Grand Marais: September 13-16
In its eleventh year, Unplugged presents an impressive lineup of national and local singer/songwriters, with performances on the harbor overlooking Lake Superior in Grand Marais.
Performances on Thursday and Friday nights will be carried by National Public Radio as part of the Mountain Stage radio show, a live two-hour program hosted by West Virginia Public Broadcasting host Larry Groce. Thursday's show features Trampled by Turtles and Low. Friday's lineup includes Jonathan Edwards, Mollie O'Brien & Rich Moore, Gretchen Peter, and Chip Taylor. The Saturday night concert benefits the North House Folk School. Artists include Mollie O'Brien & Rich Moore, Jonathan Edwards, and Jon Vezner.
Unplugged events include craft and music workshops, sailing, and an auction to build an endowment for the North House Folk School and its traditional crafts programs. Tickets for performances range from $20-$50. For more information, visit www.northhouse.org or call 888-387-9762.
Boats & Bluegrass Festival, Winona: September 27-30
Boats and Bluegrass has a lineup of three dozen musical acts, outdoor activities, camping, and a family-friendly atmosphere. The festival takes place on Prairie Island Park, on the banks of the Mississippi River in Winona.
The musical offerings at Boats and Bluegrass are hip and eclectic, ranging from roots, Americana, bluegrass, and folk, to alternative rock, hillbilly, party-gras, and acts that defy categorization.
Boats and Bluegrass features free canoe trips, nature walks, a 9-hole disc golf course, and a nearby camping site that is divided into family and late night areas. Food and beverages are available for purchase. Weekend passes including camping start at $77.50. Limited day passes may be available. All kids under 16 are free with an adult. For more information, visit www.boatsandbluegrass.com or call 507-450-5013.