By CHAD KULAS, Midway Chamber of Commerce Executive Director
After a long, drawn-out winter has once again come to a close, warmer weather is here. In Minnesota, we appreciate the summer and try to cram in as much outdoor activity as we can – maybe to compensate for the long duration of being stuck inside. But come these warm weather months, we take to the outdoors. We garden. We golf. We ride our bike. We find patios and eat and drink as many times outside as we can.
Looking for something to do? You don’t have to drive “up north” to find ways to enjoy the sun. There are plenty of things to do in or near the Midway, and many of them are free. Here are a few coming up.
Many summer celebrations in Saint Paul focus on the neighborhood and community. In July, a Midway resident does not have to travel far to go to Rondo Days or Highland Fest. The Little Mekong Night Market is an arts and culture-inspired event July 6-7 inspired by night markets in southeast Asia, and has become a very well attended attraction. For those wanting to stick closer to the Midway, there’s the Little Africa Festival Aug. 3-4 at Hamline Park.
If you’re looking for 4th of July plans, Saint Anthony Park continues its annual tradition with a morning race, parade, and live music.
We are fortunate in Saint Paul to have two big free music festivals – the Twin Cities Jazz Fest June 20-22 and the Lowertown Blues and Funk Fest July 19-20. Both events are run by the same organization – a local nonprofit – and feature both local and national acts.
Another free music option 12 Thursdays in the summer is Lowertown Sounds. Located in Mears Park, proceeds of beer sales go to Beyond the Yellow Ribbon, a nonprofit helping military families in need.
The annual Selby Avenue Jazz Fest will take place Sept. 14 and feature free jazz, artist displays and other family-themed activities.
The Midway is essentially the brewery district in Saint Paul, and many of the taprooms have summer events. Yoga and a Pint is a popular brewery event, and Midway breweries Lake Monster and Dual Citizen both feature it regularly. Urban Growler keeps its patio busy with events throughout the summer, including live music. Check out the website for more details, as well as Bang, Black Stack, Burning Brothers and The Lab. If you’re looking for an outdoor activity with exercise and fun, a couple years ago the Midway Chamber organized a bike ride between a few breweries.
When the weather isn’t great?
For those rainy days, check out Sunday Funday at Can Can Wonderland, with specials on arcade games and food/beverages. Many breweries also feature inside events, including trivia nights and Dual Citizen even has Tot Time on Sundays.
They may not still be in the Midway, but a Saints game on a sunny day is still hard to beat- especially since CHS Field is fun for all ages. My wife and I take our kids to at least one game a year. If you have kids and don’t want to stay out too late, there are a few day games on the calendar and their Sunday games begin at 5 p.m.
Coming up in the Midway on June 29 is the Midway Public Art Festival. The festival will highlight the diverse talents of Hamline Midway neighborhood artists through interactive public art.
After Labor Day, there’s still time to get in some nice weather. The Creative Enterprise Zone is hosting Chroma Zone – billed as Minnesota’s first and largest public mural & art festival Sept. 7-14. The festival will feature 10 large outdoor murals created over eightdays by local and national artists.
Where to find out more?
Good resources include our local district councils (the Hamline-Midway Coalition and Union Park District Council), Visit Saint Paul and cultural associations like African Economic Development Solutions/Little Africa and the Asian Economic Development Association.
Between art, music, sports and dining/drinks, there’s a lot to do outdoors this summer. Many of the best things to do are free and don’t require you to leave the neighborhood!