By Sarah Kirchner Sheldon
Summer is a great time to visit Northfield. There are almost too many things to do once the weather warms up. Here are the top five to fit into your schedule this summer:
June 7, July 5, Aug. 2: First Friday Art Nights
Northfield is an arts community. It’s got everything from theater and dance to studio arts and live music – and on the first Friday of every month you can usually find them all at once. First Friday Art Nights happen every month, but the energy heats up with the weather. Local artists partner with various venues around town to offer interactive art experiences and enjoyable show. You may be able to throw your own pot at the Northfield Arts Guild, learn ballroom dancing at the Northfield Dance Academy, or enjoy live music at Froggy Bottoms River Pub & Lily Padio. The schedule of events changes every month, so check the Northfield Downtown Development Corporation’s website to plan your itinerary.
If one evening isn’t enough Northfield art for you, stay overnight at one of the local hotels and attend the Riverwalk Market Fair every Saturday morning throughout the summer. There you will find more local artisans offering everything from hand-turned wooden cooking tools to jewelry to baked goods, and everything in between.
June 20: Downtown Taste Tour
With all the great restaurants downtown, sometimes it can be hard to choose where to grab a bite. Luckily, during the Downtown Taste Tour, you don’t have to settle on just one stop. During the annual walking food and drink crawl, visitors are able to try a variety of restaurants and bars/breweries, often at just a fraction of the price. Many eateries downtown offer deals and specials on some of their top meals and drinks – or take the opportunity to try something new.
Take a tip from this local and stop by Northfield Olive Oils & Vinegars – they don’t normally offer prepared food, but they take this opportunity to show off some unique ways to use their oils, balsamics, and vinegars. Let’s hope they bring back their cucumber watermelon salad with feta and lemongrass mint balsamic – or debut something equally as delicious!
Purchase tickets for $1 each, but you better stock up because food and drink offerings range anywhere from one to six tickets, and you want to take advantage of all your options. Enjoy a night out in June exploring downtown Northfield, one dish or drink at a time. Check the Northfield Downtown Development Corporation’s website for this year’s itinerary.
After an evening of eating and drinking your way through Northfield, rest for the night at Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott.
July 4: Independence Day
Summer in Northfield isn’t complete without Fourth of July festivities. This town full of history makes sure to bring history into its celebrations on the nation’s birthday. Antique and junk lovers should stop by the annual flea market. There you will find vintage pieces, artwork, collectibles, and repurposed items. The market is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and admission is free to shoppers.
The annual vintage baseball game harkens back to the rules and game of 1860 – no gloves, foul balls are not counted as strikes, and a catch on the first bounce gets the batter out. But it’s not only the rules that are reminiscent of days past – both teams play in vintage uniforms, too. In contrast to the vintage-inspired game, the local amateur baseballs teams, the Northfield Knights and the Dundas Dukes, go head-to-head every year on the Fourth.
And no Independence Day celebration would be complete without fireworks. The local display is launched from the Northfield Middle School parking lot, but they can be seen and heard all around town. Insider’s tip: find a spot to view the fireworks from the hill of St. Olaf – it’s not usually too crowded, but it’s the tallest point in the city, so you’re sure to see a good show.
July 25: Crazy Daze
Plan to spend the night in Northfield the day before Crazy Daze, because starting at 7 a.m., Division Street downtown is shut down for this annual sidewalk sale. Shops set up racks and tents outside their storefronts for their once-a-year sales, which are often the best deals all year. Get there early to grab a special (and massive) donut from Quality Bakery – they are usually gone by 10 a.m.
Nearly all downtown businesses participate in Crazy Daze, and many locals plan their summer shopping around these sidewalk sales. Bierman’s Home Furnishings often has great deals on furniture. The Rare Pair puts out racks of clothing, shoes, and accessories on close-out deals – it’s a good time to stock up for the fall. Content Bookstore offers a discount book rack, which they only do a few times a year.
There are games and entertainment all day – activities are scheduled until 7 p.m. However, make sure you get there earlier in the day as things sell out and stores may clean up early if they’ve gone through all their deals. If you arrive at 6 p.m., you may miss many great sales.
Aug. 1-4: Vintage Band Festival
The Vintage Band Festival annually fills downtown with the jaunty music of brass bands, but every third year it expands to four days of vintage big-band music on multiple stages throughout town. This summer, 30 brass bands from around the world and Northfield’s own backyard will put on an eclectic mix of 100 concerts throughout the long weekend.
Pull up a lawn chair and enjoy an evening of music and food right downtown at the Bridge Square Main Stage Friday night. Crash at the Archer House River Inn, grab breakfast at The Tavern, and then take your picnic blanket and sandwiches from Hogan Brother’s to Way Park for an afternoon of music at the Way Park Wenger Showmobile Stage on Saturday or Sunday. The Vintage Band Festival offers a variety of music and entertainment for all ages all weekend long.
After a summer of activities, come back to Northfield the first weekend after Labor Day for our famous Defeat of Jesse James Days for a classic car show, extensive art fair, rides, carnival games, great food, and live re-enactments of the famous defeat of the Jesse James Gang!