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Jumping into the Summer Festival Beats

Festivals continue to bring communities together during the month of June

Words by Brandon Bader
Photo’s courtesy of Country USA, Renditions, Nebraska Children’s Home Society/Sand in the City, and Strawberry Point

Father’s Day and the Summer Solstice. June isn’t home to a ton of holidays, but no worries each of the Midwest states has everyone covered with an event that is sure to add a spark to the month. With ten more festivals, options are there for everyone looking to take a trip or to experience a local thrill. The best part is that even after this month, there are still two months left of summer.

Happy Harry’s RibFest

June 7-10 | Fargo, ND

If there’s meat, music and games, it’s Ribfest. Once again making its home in Fargo, Ribfest gathers some of the best cooks in the region to serve up slabs of their original recipes. Specials are happening each day to make every moment unexpected. Live music will be performed every night and since it’s right in the heart of a college town, the atmosphere will be unlike any other.

HogRock River Rally

June 8-11| Cave-In-Rock, IL

The best adults only party in the USA is coming back for year 21. But for this party, you don’t have to be 21. Anyone 18 or older is allowed, and there it is an endless brigade of games and music. With an oil wrestling pit, beer belly Hoola-Hooping and helicopter rides, this festival will have frills, thrills and a good time if you can make it through a wild three days.

Holy Rosary Italian Street Festival

June 9-10 | Indianapolis, IN

Homemade spaghetti sauce, pizza, cannoli and cheesecake. The taste of Italy comes to the city when Holy Rosary puts on its annual two-day event. With three bands playing during the evening festivities, the headlining Indy Nile Band will close out the weekend. The main attraction, aside from the food, is the Ferris Wheel, which has a view of the Indianapolis skyline from the very top.

Strawberry Point Strawberry Days

June 9-11 | Strawberry Point, IA

Strawberries are coming into season as Strawberry Days nears. Photo courtesy of Strawberry Point.

In Strawberry Point, Iowa, the the name of the city matches the theme of the festival. With some of the most fertile land in the Midwest, the town’s soil produces ripe berries that are the life of the summer community. An entire menu is dedicated to incorporating the fruit of the annual Strawberry Days festival, and with enticing options, it’s sure to inspire your taste buds. There will be a street fair and carnival to go along with a pet show and the Little Mr. and Miss Strawberry games at the Methodist Church.

“We’re in our 47th year of the festival and I’m happy to be running it,” said Kallie McDowell, the deputy city clerk.

McDowell is in her first year of running the festival and has a couple of ideas to add to what is already a staple to the city.

“We are planning to use the streets more the Franklin Hotel will accompany the festival and be part of the activities this year,” McDowell said.

Sand in the City

June 9-11 | Omaha, NE

Sculpture competitions are done by teams at Sand in the City. Photo courtesy of Nebraska Children’s Home Society/Sand in the City.

Where there’s sand, there are sand castles. The Midwest may be landlocked, but that hasn’t stopped Omaha from bringing the shore to the city. In one giant competition, community members are paired with professional sculptors to create sand art. In addition to the art, attendees can enjoy food and music, and there’s even a separate play area for kids to keep them entertained while everyone builds sand sculptures.

Everyone can get involved in the recreational sand pit. Photo courtesy of Nebraska Children’s Home Society/Sand in the City.

“We draw in roughly 23,000 people over the weekend of this event. What we do is it is unique, and there is nothing else like it in the Midwest,” said Leah Lindell, the event coordinator.

For the actual competition, June 9 is the day to come watch, June 10 and 11 are for all of the festivities. All proceeds go toward the Nebraska Children’s Home Society a nonprofit since 1893.

“They have been the partner of this event for the entire 14 years it has existed and we are happy to help them provides safe and loving care for all ages.”

Rendition Pottery Festival

June 10 | Weston, MO

Authentic Polish pottery will be sold during the festival. Photo courtesy of Renditions.

In downtown historic Weston, this festival is in its fifth year. Rendition is a Polish pottery shop that is a Midwest agent for Manufaktura, a pottery factory in Boleslawiec, Poland.  As the only one of its kind in the region, guests will get a chance to experience Poland through artisan pottery and see live entertainment from The Happy Wanderers a German folk band. Visitors will also get to enjoy the world renowned Aidas Lithuanian Folkdancers. Rendition co-owner Marilyn Lindahl said there was no way of knowing how successful the festival was going to be when it was created.

“When you begin something, you never know how long it will go,” Lindahl said.

After five years and continuously growing popularity in the community, the festival tries to do its part in representing its Polish counterparts.

“We have multiple vendors here that represent eastern European countries, Polish food, music and heritage,” Lindahl said.  

Frankfort Summerfest

June 15-18 | Frankfort, KS

Frankfort turns 150 this year, and the city is hosting its Summerfest at Frankfort City Park. For three days, the area will be opened up to the community and will feature historic tours, street dances, fireworks, a parade, community swimming competition and a recreation of an 1860 ball game that can be equated to vintage baseball.

South Dakota Peach Festival

June 17-18 | Sioux Falls, SD

Georgia is known for its peaches, but for Midwesterners, getting to the state is a bit too long of a drive. A bit closer, South Dakota is home to an annual peach festival, with homegrown fruits on local groves. For two days, local vendors, carnival rides and games pair alongside a peach-themed menu. There is also a contest that allows attendees to incorporate peaches into signature dishes as they compete for prizes.

Country USA

June 20-24| Oshkosh, WI

Country USA’s big name artists help make it one of the largest country music festivals in the country. Photo courtesy of Country USA.

The Maximum Country Music and Camping Festival is back for its 22nd year and is ready to roll for five consecutive days of nonstop entertainment. Country USA has a three million dollar line-up with headliners such as Blake Shelton, Florida Georgia Line and Rascal Flatts. With artists like these, Country USA is the premier destination for country music this summer. Tickets are on sale. but keep in mind that the campgrounds are in high demand as well as the shows. Both tickets for the shows and campsites are becoming increasingly in short supply with this many big names coming to perform.

Derek Liebhauser, the event promoter, said the festival stacks up with other major country music festivals.

“Country USA is easily top three or four biggest in the country,” Liebhauser said.

“Each year we try to make it an experience for the fans,” Liebhauser said. “Our biggest changes this year are in the food and beverage department. We hired a company out of Los Angeles that is rebranding everything we are serving.”

With the aim to adapt to an ever-changing audience, Country USA already has the big name performers but wants to make sure that those attending get every bit of their money’s worth.

“We always have world class talent,” Liebhauser said. “But now we want to have an experience around that for a whole package.”

MSRA Back to the 50s Weekend

June 23-25 | Saint Paul, MN

There’s a nostalgia factor that comes with old muscle cars, and in the U.S., these throwback beauties still have a place in people’s hearts. This festival has been ranked as the number one car show in the nation, and with good reason it’s now 44 years strong. The festival is made possible by over 2000 volunteers and with 400 vendors. Come for food, music and classic cars galore.

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