By Sarah Sheldon
As summer starts to wind down, make a trip to Northfield for all the late summer activities.
If the day’s not too hot – or if you enjoy the August heat – take a stroll around the greater downtown neighborhood and follow the sidewalk poetry. Each year, the local library hosts a poetry contest giving locals a chance to commit their words to cement. Follow this map or check out the Northfield Public Library to read them all.
Tour the city on two wheels along the Mill Towns State Trail. The paved three-mile route has trailheads in Northfield and Dundas, with plans to extend east to Cannon Falls and south to Faribault. The Northfield section of the trail starts at Riverside Park, travels through Sechler Park, and along the river down to Dundas. When you get to Northfield’s neighboring city, view the historic, former Archibald Mill ruins right on the river.
August is a great time to go patio-hopping in Northfield. The warm days giving way to cool nights make for a perfect patio experience. Imminent Brewing’s patio is one of the most welcoming in town. They host a food truck nearly every night they’re open – and if it’s a nice day they will have the glass garage doors open to bring the outside in.
It’s almost a case of dueling patios downtown during the summer, as The Lily Padio at Froggy Bottom’s and The Contented Cow both host outdoor musical acts most weekend nights. If you take the footbridge over the river, you can easily sample the music at both venues in a single evening. A new addition to the patio game is the recently opened Reunion – at the corner of 5th and Division. Check out their specialty cocktails – and try the amazing crab cakes or parmesan fries!
Just outside of town down Highway 19 you will find Fireside Orchard and Gardens – one of the best apple orchards in the area. On Aug. 24 and 25 they are hosting their family-friendly grand reopening with live music, a walk through the gardens, and free hot dog, popcorn, and cider for the kids. After you grab some locally-grown apples, make sure to try the freshly made apple donuts. They’re the best!
Defeat of Jesse James Days (DJJD), the weekend after Labor Day, is Northfield’s biggest event of the year. Visitors and townies alike come out to enjoy four days of festive fun. Start your weekend by taking a tour with the Northfield Historical Society and learn the story of our town’s encounter with – and defeat of – the Jesse James Gang. Then make sure to catch one of the re-enactments Friday through Sunday (check the official website for the full schedule). Other DJJD highlights include the professional rodeo complete with many tricks, performances, and even rodeo clowns. Spend time walking the Riverfront Fine Arts Festival Saturday or Sunday to take in the creativity of local artisans. And of course, there’s tons of music, fair food, carnival rides, and games all weekend long.Make sure to book your overnight stay early – the Archer House and Fairfield Inn book up quickly!