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Best Labor Day Celebrations In Minnesota

This is the time of year when almost 1.8 million people go to the Minnesota State Fair, making it the largest 12-day event in North America. Another 300,000 go to the Renaissance Festival making it the largest Renaissance Festival in the United States. Meanwhile, one should be aware of several unique historical and cultural events to better celebrate Labor Day in a meaningful manner.

MN Music On-A-Stick
Minnesota State Fair Grandstand
1265 Snelling Ave. N.
St. Paul, MN 55108
(651) 288-4400

Date: August 30, 2013

Top Minnesota talent will showcase their music on one stage in one rare evening. Trampled by Turtles, ascendant nationally acclaimed acoustic band, will include this grandstand stop in its busy summer tour. The Suburbs, a national breakout band of the '80s, is releasing its new kickstart album just days before the big event. Prolific singer/songwriter Mason Jennings will share his intimate, laid-back style with tight acoustical instrumentation. Chic female hip-hop trio The Chalice will flaunt its magic chemistry for all to see. Finally, expect a large dedicated fan-base to see rapper P.O.S. to exhibit a commanding range of musical innovation.

Historic Fort Snelling
(credit: CBS)

Life in the 1800s from Cradle to Grave
Historic Fort Snelling
Bloomington Road
Minnesota Highways 5 and 55
St. Paul, MN 55111
(612) 726-1171

Dates: Aug. 31 through Sept. 2, 2013

Don't let the somewhat dour title discourage you. This truthful historical enactment is designed to entertain all ages. Historic Fort Snelling focuses on major life events for people in the early 1800s. Costumed staff will help you explore the historic site and theatrical performances bring to life the meaning of birth, marriage and death in those times.

Women's Work: History Player Eva Valesh Tour
Mill City Museum
704 South 2nd St.
Minneapolis, MN 55401
(612) 341-7555

Date: Aug. 31, 2013

Not all Labor Day history is about men. A series of Saint Paul Globe and Minneapolis Tribune newspaper articles in 1888 and 1889 exposed poor working conditions in local factories, one of which was the North Star Woolen Mill, still standing two blocks from Mill City Museum. The editor of the series was Eva Valesh, writing under the pen name Eva Gay. A costumed actor portraying Ms. Valesh will lead a walking tour highlighting some of the key events in women's labor history in Minneapolis and jobs available to women in the 19th and early-20th centuries. Be sure to reserve your place by calling or registering online.

Mill City Museum
(credit: Mill City Museum)

We Are Still Here: Photographs of the American Indian Movement
Mill City Museum
704 South 2nd St.
Minneapolis, MN 55401
(612) 341-7555

Date: Sept. 1, 2013

As the basic human desire for economic self-actualization drove the American labor movement in the late 19th century and early 20th century, so did it drive the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s and the American Indian Movement, founded in 1968 in Minneapolis. AIM burst onto the scene arguing for political, social and cultural change. Activist Dick Bancroft, a key documentarian of the American Indian Movement, provides a stunningly intimate view of a major piece of American history from 1970 to 1981. His work was featured in the new book, "We Are Still Here: A History of the American Indian Movement in Photographs." Relive the key events such as the takeovers of federal buildings, the founding of survival schools in the Twin Cities, the Wounded Knee trials, The Longest Walk of Survival and bringing American Indian voices to the United Nations.

Threshing Weekend
Oliver H. Kelley Farm
15788 Kelley Farm Road
Elk River, MN 55330

Dates: Aug. 31 through Sept. 2, 2013

Visit the birthplace of organized agriculture in America. Oliver H. Kelley and his wife Lucy began farming this land in 1850 and later founded the first successful national farming organization, the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, better known as The Grange. Visitors are asked to pitch in with chores of the season's farming cycle. Help Toby and Colter load grain shocks in the field with oxen for threshing with an 1856 horse-powered Cox and Roberts. Bag grain at the threshing machine and stack straw. There are plenty of well-marked nature trails winding along the Mississippi River featuring the same types of wildlife and plants as the Kelleys saw.

Robin Johnson was born in Annandale, Minn. and graduated from Richfield High School and then the University of Minnesota where he studied Political Science, Business and Industrial Relations. A writer for, he also consults with a variety of organizations and individuals helping them develop and grow. His work can be found at

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