Summer 2015 Hits & Misses

Hey friends! So, I’ve taken a bit of a break from blogging lately as I’ve been focusing on my new job (yay) and enjoying every little bit of the rest of summer. I thought a good way to wrap up Summer 2015 might be to go through some of the events I attended and what I thought about them…

HIT Open Streets Minneapolis

Open Streets Lyndale

Remember that post I wrote about Placemaking a couple months ago? Open Streets is one of my favorite tactical urbanism initiatives within Placemaking. The concept of Open Streets probably started in South America – but it might also be credit with origination in Seattle. The basic idea is opening a, normally motor-vehicle, road to pedestrians, bicyclists and basically any other mode of transpiration that doesn’t involve a car. This gOpen Streets East Lake Streetives people the opportunity to experience their neighborhoods in a different way, interact with business owners, community leaders and fellow citizens and get out of their cars and do something physically active (for once!). Open Streets Minneapolis celebrated its fifth year this year and has expanded every year since its first event. There are still Open Streets events coming up, tomorrow along Nicollet Avenue and next weekend along Lowry. Go check them out – I swear you won’t be disappointed.

Julie and her pineapple drink at Open Streets East Lake StreetErik at The Leaning Tower of Pizza

MISS Rock the Garden

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Most will probably disagree – but honestly the more I go to these big music festivals the more I dislike them in general. I really prefer small block parties where I can easily hear and see the performances. I was really only looking forward to seeing Modest Mouse, who did a great job, but by the time the set started I was pretty much done for the day. I think I made a new rule that I won’t be going back to Rock the Garden unless I like multiple of the billed artists – it’s not worth it to go just for the headliner.
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HIT Summer Beer Dabbler

Me, Julie and Sally dabblin'

Every year that I have attended the Summer Beer Dabbler it has been held at a different location. I think, though, they’ve found their home at CHS Field (the new home of the St. Paul Saints). It’s a nice set up – the place is big enough that the vendors can sprawl out on the field and concourse and the lines are kept to a minimum for the most part. The only suggestion I would have would be to keep vendors to one side of the concourse – I think when they are on both sides and then people are trying to walk through the center it gets a little clogged.

There was also a band stage set up on the field, which was nice – although it was set off to the side a bit and felt like it wasn’t in the mix of the beer dabblin’ action. But regardless we enjoyed listening to Heiruspecs and Actual Wolf.

HIT St. Paul Beer Festival

Jess and I at the St. Paul Beer Festival

I have often toted this beer festival as my favorite – and I still feel that way. I like the layout of the St. Paul Beer Festival festival the best of all the beer festivals I’ve attended. It is held at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, within the International Bazar. The set-up is nice because the Bazar is designed to house many different vendors and the also open up the backyard for additional breweries as well as food trucks and seating. It has a nice flow, I’ve never felt crowded, and the lines are very minimal. Plus, there is a band stage; Nate Sipe from Pert Near Sandstone took the stage this year among others.   If you attend only one beer festival next summer, I vote you go to this one.

HIT Minnesota State Fair

My brother and I sporting our awesome hats

I made four visits to the Great Minnesota Get-Together this year, which ties my record from last year. Next summer its five visits FTW!

Every now and then I meet a fellow Minnesotan who has never attended our awesome State Fair and every time it hurts me just a little bit. I like festivals, probably more than the average person, and I can totally understand why someone might think that the state fair is a cluster not worth venturing into –but that someone would be wrong!

Haley Bonar playing at the West End stage

Here are my suggestions for making the most of the Minnesota State Fair:

  • Go more than once.

I know that this isn’t the most budget friendly suggestion (particularly if you don’t live in the metro). But, if you want to get the most out of the fair, it’s simply not possible in one visit.

  • Make one trip a daytime trip on a weekday (NOT Labor Day).

If you can take a day off to go to the fair during the daytime hours you will enjoy it much more than if you go on a weekend or Labor Day. Trust me.

  • Make your second trip an evening weeknight outing.

Not only will the weather generally be more comfortable, but the crowds will be less. The best state fair experiences I’ve had have been on my trips on weeknight evenings. As an added bonus there are MANY stages throughout the fair that offer free entertainment and often the artists are local musicians.

  • Make friends with someone who knows the fairgrounds like the back of their hand (hint – her name is Claire and she writes an awesome blog)

At the very least, create a plan for the trip before you go. The last thing you want to do is be THAT group of people who stops walking in the middle of the road to figure out your next destination.

Giant Slide!

MISS Northeast Brewers Block Party @ Socialable Ciderwerks

I’ll be honest that part of the reason I’m marking this as a “miss” is because it was unbelievably hot. Which, I know, isn’t fair. BUT the event takes place in a parking lot and when it’s a hot, humid, sunny summer day there is nowhere more uncomfortable than standing on a giant piece of asphalt. I love the concept of this event and – oddly enough – I think it was better executed last year.

I’m fairly certain the barriers in the parking lot were widened this year, making the event space much larger. Perhaps I’m wrong on that, but it seemed much more wide open this year than last. Normally, that would be a good thing – but the space was SO big that it almost seemed desolate. When I was standing around one of the high-top tables in the parking lot it was as if I could have been on an island miles from the stage. I think there is probably a happy medium, making the space big enough for the lines and the stage, but not so big that it loses the sense of community.

HIT NE Night Market @ Bauhaus Brew Labs

Me, Angie and Liz at the NE Night Market in July

This summer, Bauhaus Brew Labs threw their hat into the ring of events celebrating local artists with their monthly Northeast Night Market. I didn’t attend the first event, but apparently it was flooded with people which resulted in somewhat of a cluster-mess. For the second event in July they sold tickets (for only $2, the profits of which were donated), and that seemed to give them a better gauge of attendance and also may have lessened the number of walk-up attendees.

Liz demonstrating the ways to wear he new dog accessory.

I attended the events in July and September (the August event was rescheduled due to weather) and I really think the idea of these events is awesome. A couple things I would like to see – they had music, but it was in the tap room and I’d like to see it be on the stage in the “the shed” area adjacent to Bauhaus’ beirgarten. There is more room and I generally just prefer to be outside during summer events (although, I’ll admit the outdoor/indoor space is pretty seamless at Bauhaus when they open the garage doors). Also, as you move down “the shed” towards the exit the lighting gets very poor, not such a big deal in the June and July months because sunset is after 9pm, but when we were there last week it made sitting in the shed a lot less appealing. Lastly, I’d like them to do a rotation of artists who attend – a lot of the artists that I saw there in September were the same as those I saw in July. All and all it was a great idea, I look forward to attending again next year.

MISS Chipotle Cultivate Festival

My bag of wine.

Well, I waited 20 minutes in line to get in the gate and then another thirty to get a drink. So, there were some definite logistical problems. That said, it wasn’t really crowded – there were plenty of places to sit and when I was walking around I didn’t feel like I couldn’t move. I think this free music festival would benefit from multiple entrance gates and way more beverage kiosks. Additionally, they should have a separate table for checking ID’s – the bartenders were wristbanding people as they were getting drinks which I think was part of the hold-up in getting a drink.

I didn’t stay at Cultivate long, mostly because I was scared of the impending monsoon that the news had been talking about all week. But, I’m hoping they bring it back next year and work out some of the kinks.

HIT Minneapolis Music & Movies in the Parks

4onthefloor playing at the Lake Harriet Bandshell

I learned about the Minneapolis free concert series when I first move here five years ago, but for one reason or another I never made it to a show. This summer I finally changed that and caught Chastity Brown’s show at Loring Park and 4onthefloor’s set at the Lake Harriet Bandshell. Here’s a fun fact for you – the City of Minneapolis has been hosting local musical artists at their park since 1892! That’s crazy.

HIT Basilica Block Party

Weezer at the Basilica Block Party
So, again, I’m not a big fan of large-scale music festivals. That being said, there were a couple artists I wanted to see at this year’s Basilica Block Party which made it worthwhile to attend. They’ve been putting this festival on for 20 years now and they do seem to have it down, somewhat, to a science. That being said, I would like to see them increase the food vendors next year, for no other reason than the lines were really long and my hangry attitude almost ruined my afternoon.

MISS Rock the Block

This was just awful. If you were there, and enjoyed yourself, you and I likely would not make very good friends. The sheer number of women walking around in 4 inch heels, trying to balance on the uneven terrain of the crumbling parking lot adjacent to Calhoun Square, was an immediate indication that this crowd was not my style.  I literally saw a guy there wearing a suit coat and club shorts. What is that?! Could he not decide if he was going to an interview or the beach that day? Sorry, not my crowd. If, for some reason, they decide to have this event again I will not be attending.

So, I had a pretty great summer! The events don’t end in August, mind you! Stay tuned for my October blog post and I’ll tell you about my recent trip to Duluth.

What events did I miss this summer? Which were your favorites?

Until next time…

~Claire

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