Your guide to summer in Rochester
Memorial Day marks the unofficial beginning of summer across America. In Minnesota, it also acts as reassurance that we won’t be seeing snow for a long, long while. The sun will be warm, the days will be long, and the opportunities will be endless to make amazing memories in the summer of 2018.
While a trip to a Twins game or the North Shore is a must for any Minnesota summer, don’t get it twisted — fun summer events will be happening every day right around your corner in the Rochester area. Consider this a guide to another summer in the city.
Perhaps the most exciting thing about this summer is all the music to be found in the Med City. There’s never been a better time to be a live music fan in Rochester. In addition to the Thursdays on First & 3rd and Down By the Riverside concert series bringing in acts from across the country, local festivals have more to offer than ever before.
The summer of music kicks off at Pure Rock Studios during the first two days of June, when Minnesota’s most talented youth creators converge at ROCKchester. The music and arts festival, run entirely by high school and college-aged residents, will feature some of Rochester’s best young talent (Fauna & Flora, Sam Butterfass, Wyatt Moran) as well as young rockers from across Minnesota (Early Eyes, Guytano, Good Luck Finding Iris, Why Not).
Described as “the ragtime White Stripes,” Chicago group The Claudettes will blow through town on June 15 as part of the Almost Midsummer Music Fest, held at Kathy’s Pub. Running June 14-16, the lineup for the weekend also includes Rochester rock favorites Local Sports and Under the Pavilion.
For the fifth year in a row, Kinney Creek Brewery will be hosting the Picks and Pints festival on June 30. Music will run from 2-10 PM, headlined by Cajun fusion group The Swamp Kings — and there’ll be a LOT of beer.
On August 11, Foster Arend Park will play host to the second annual Foster Fest, a music festival benefiting Mission 21, a charity supporting victims of domestic minor sex trafficking. The lineup isn’t public yet, but last year’s show made waves in the Rochester music scene and the follow-up would make sure to impress.
Of course, we can’t forget about the most notable pair of concert series in the area. Downtown Rochester's Thursdays on First & 3rd will continue offering live music at all dates, with notable acts including Rochester soul singer Annie Mack on July 19 and St. Louis folk rocker Beth Bombara on August 9. Down By the Riverside will also continue into its 27th year, with the main attraction coming August 12 when Jefferson Starship rolls into town.
If your Independence Day is free, the Commission's Salute to the 4th will take over the Silver Lake area with a skateboard and BMX contest, a car show, live music, and a fireworks viewing party. If you want to branch out from Rochester, head to Stewartville’s Summerfest, with a 3 and 5 mile run in the morning, a street fair, parade, and fireworks of their own.
Movie fanatic? There’s a trifecta of outdoor movie series coming this summer: Movies in the Park, presented by the Rochester Downtown Alliance (at Central Park - check out The Sandlot on June 16), Movies Under the Stars at the Olmsted County History Center, and don’t forget about the annual Music and a Movie event in the Slatterly Park area this August.
If you want to take in a live theater performance, the Rochester Civic Theatre starts their run of the Tracy Letts play “August: Osage County” on June 8. The show will run for over a week before closing on June 17.
Peace Plaza will be taken over on August 20, when Angry Hour headlines “Drums, Please!” with a drumline performance. Other attractions will include lawn games and a barbecue picnic.
One of the most anticipated events of the season will last all summer long. “Genome: Unlocking Life’s Code,” an exhibit produced by the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, will be opening in the Rochester Art Center on June 23. Can’t make it right away? Don’t worry. The exhibit will run for nearly three full months, before closing September 21.
It’s been a full year since the last Elysium event, where the location remains secret until the day of show, but if you were a fan of any of the first four events — don’t worry. Elysium V is set for this summer — but that’s all we know right now.
As you have seen, Rochester’s got a lot going on this summer — maybe more this summer than ever before — but the two biggest events haven’t even been touched on yet. Rochesterfest, the city-wide celebration of the Med City centered around Soldiers Field Park, will run June 18-24. If your fair appetite won’t be satisfied after that, the Olmsted County Fair kicks off a month later and runs July 23-29, with musical acts Skillet and Scotty McCreery set to perform. It’s going to be a jam-packed summer in southeast Minnesota — get out and enjoy it!
Isaac Jahns is a 2015 graduate of Mayo High School and a current journalism student at the University of Missouri. His main passions are writing music and telling people’s stories. Follow Isaac on Twitter.
Cover photo: The Fab Four, a Beatles tribute band, performs at Down by the Riverside in 2017 / Courtesy Kate Klaus Photography