Fall Festivals for Foodies

It is the harvest season after all.

by Lucy Nieboer


Summer in Minnesota gets to have all the fun. Not only are there lazy lake days and county fairs but also outdoor concerts and sporting events galore. Fall rolls around, and social gatherings are abandoned for the duties that have been neglected all summer. In turn, poor Autumn ends up ignored for the abundant festivities it packs into the calendar. Here are a couple fiestas that shouldn’t be missed.


Oktoberfest at Gasthof’s


Gasthof Zur Gemutlichkeit

2300 University Ave. NE, Minneapolis

5-11 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays, Sept. 21 through Oct. 13

No cover


Sights and sounds: Clinking beer steins and the scent of grilled brats set the backdrop to live polka performances and conversations with other Bavarian food and drink enthusiasts.

Fun fact: Although its name might suggest otherwise, Oktoberfest actually begins in September and runs until the middle of October.

Why include it in your fall crawl: Germans know exactly how to prepare for a long winter ahead — with a pint in hand, surrounded by friends.

Gasthof Zur Gemutlichkeit roughly translates to “guest house for coziness,” and provides a lively backdrop for this autumnal get-together.

Extras: Entry is free, but some brew and a plate of sauerkraut and BBQ is not included.





410 Saint Peter Street, St. Paul12 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Sept. 30



Sights and sounds: The day will be comprised of celebrity shucking contests, oyster and brewery seminars, live music and a plethora of seafood selections available for purchase.

For the cost of a mediocre meal at Applebee’s, you get a dozen oysters and a pint of Summit Brewery’s new Oyster Stout (or the beverage of your choice).

Fun fact: In preparation for the fest, owner of Meritage and executive chef Russell Klein and his wife Desta traveled to both coasts to meet with the oyster providers and bring a taste of the ocean to the Great Lakes region.

Why include it in your fall crawl: Seafood may not seem like a natural choice of food festivities for the land-locked Twin Cities, but these imported mollusks are catching on quickly. Meritage of St. Paul just received a four-star rating from local food critic Rick Nelson proving that seafood is here to stay.

Extras: If your appetite for the salty bivalve isn’t satisfied by a mere dozen oysters, you can shuck out $100 for a V.I.P. pass which will provide you with a swag bag and unlimited oysters. Visiting oyster farmers will also lead an introductory oyster class. For $20 you can pick up some pearls of wisdom about your favorite creature under the sea.



Mill City Bread Festival


Mill City Farmers Market

704 S. Second St., Minneapolis


8 a.m.-1 p.m.



Sights and sounds: Crop-art activities for kids (in partnership with the Walker Art Center), an art market, baking contests, demonstrations and plenty of live music will make up this festival sponsored by Gold Medal Flour Company.

Fun fact: Minneapolis was the flour milling capital of the world for 50 years. This festival pays homage to local history and industry by celebrating one of the world’s oldest foods.

Why include it in your fall crawl: Picking up a new hobby, especially one that fills the kitchen with delicious and steamy smells is a great way to occupy time in the chillier months ahead. Jeff Hertzberg, author of “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day,” will be providing morning baking demos and answering questions for curious bakers. He hopes to share the truth about at-home bread-making — that it’s really quite simple — and get more Minneapolitans baking at home.

Extras: You can also pick up your week’s groceries at the farmers market.



Sever’s Corn Maze and Fall Festival


1100 Canterbury Rd., Shakopee, Minn.

Friday, Saturdays and Sundays through Oct. 28

Hours vary



Sights and sounds: Sixteen years ago Sever Peterson and his wife Sharon started their own small seasonal amusement park.

The roller coasters and water parks have shut down for the summer, but Sever’s Corn Maze and Fall Festival is just getting started.

Fun fact: One of the most popular attractions at the festival is an exotic petting zoo. The array of animals here far outshines the usual goat and pony show. This year, a baby giraffe will be part of the menagerie.

Why include it in your fall crawl: Nothing induces those change-of-season warm-fuzzies like being outside, picking your own pumpkin, rolling around in a corn pit or getting lost in a corn maze.

Extras: You can take a hay-ride for $1, go down the giant slide for $2 or stuff your face with mini donuts and roasted corn.