Minnesota Children’s Book Festival


it’s no secret that our kids love to read, even as they begin their first year of high school they still love it.  They almost always have a book with them or close by. So of course we also love events that revolve around books and authors. The Minnesota Children’s Book Festival takes place tomorrow Saturday, September 15th from noon to 5pm.  This is the 19th annual event, taking place just outside of Red Wing.  No admission fee and lot’s of great activities for all ages.  You can find the schedule and information about each author here. 

Join us for the 19th annual celebration of Minnesota children’s books, authors, and illustrators. It’s a day full of presentations about the making of their books, tents with interactive book-related activities, sunshine (most always), in a beautiful setting. Bring the whole family. It’s free! Authors’ and illustrators’ books available for purchase and autographing.




Lone Oak Days Fall Festival


Would you like to farm in the 1940’s? The Lone Oak Days Fall Festival is something you want to make sure is on your calendar. The Lone Oak Days Fall Festival, takes place at the The Holz Farm in Eagan.

You can step back in time on the farm from 11am-4pm on Sep 22 and 23th. They have started to charge a small admission fee but at $2 a person it’s still very affordable and worth it.

Lone Oak Days at Holz Farm

Scheduled Activities & Free Entertainment
• Pumpkin Pie Eating Contest takes place Sun at 3:00 p.m.
• Garden Harvest
• Blacksmith Demonstrations
• Old Fashioned Laundry
• Barnyard Animals
• Corn Husking
• Field Plowing and Discing
• Corn Grinding
• Vintage Equipment & Tractor Display
• Bread Baking/Butter Churning
• Honeybee Lesson
• Egg Picking/Chicken Display/Water Pumping
• Preschool- Toy Box Tractors

Plus more fun for the whole family!

You can purchase tickets in advance (more information here) or on site when you arrive.  You can also check their FB page closer to it if the weather is questionable.

Twin Cities Harvest Festival and Maze 2018 + Reader Giveaway

We’re SO close to time for fall fun, and I’m especially excited to bring my kids to the largest corn maze in Minnesota! At nearly 20 acres, Twin Cities Harvest Festival and Maze boasts Minnesota’s largest corn maze. This year’s maze offers visitors a chance to celebrate the Minnesota Timberwolves and their 30th exciting season of basketball with a Timberwolves-themed maze design and trivia questions about the team placed throughout it.

In addition to walking the maze, visitors can also jump in the corn pit, stroll through the straw bale maze, and enjoy live music, a petting zoo, a hayride, inflatables*, a giant slide*, and much more.

When: Saturdays and Sundays from September 22 – October 28 (also MEA – Thurs., Oct. 18 and Fri., Oct. 19) from 10 am – 6 pm

Where: 8001 109th Avenue N in Brooklyn Park, MN

Tickets can be purchased online for $10 per person, or pay $12 at the gate. Children under 36″ are free. *Concessions and some activities are not included in the ticket price.

Every year, Twin Cities Harvest Festival and Maze makes a donation to a local charity. This year, funds will go to the Minnesota Timberwolves FastBreak Foundation, which provides and supports hands-on programs that positively impact Minnesota youth. Since opening in 2010, Twin Cities Harvest Festival and Maze has donated nearly $180,000 to a number of local causes.

Reader Giveaway: One lucky Thrifty Minnesota reader will win a family 4-pack of tickets to Twin Cities Harvest Festival and Maze. To enter, complete the form below by 11:59 pm ET on 9/19/18. Good luck!

Twin Cities Harvest Festival and Maze Family 4-Pack

Grandparent’s Day at the Minnesota Zoo

This upcoming Sunday is Grandparent’s Day. Are you looking for a way to celebrate the day? Perhaps the perfect day to send the kids to spend the day, doing something fun with their grandparents? The Minnesota Zoo is offering free admission to grandparents on Sunday, September 9th. *Parking fee not included.

Special activities on this date:

Normal admission is $18/person (ages 13-64), $12/child (ages 3-12), $12/senior (ages 65+), and free for kids 0-2. Parking is $7/car. There’s a coupon here to save $2 off adult admission and $1 off child/senior admission, and you should be able use this coupon with this promotion.

In addition, grandparents will receive 20% off in the Timber Lodge Traders gift store as well as a FREE cookie with any coffee drink purchase. If you’re interested in signing up for a Grandparent ($139) or Grandparent Plus ($159) membership, you can purchase your membership online and use the coupon code GDAYZOO18 to receive a 14-month membership for the price of 12 months through 9/9/18.

The best part about the Minnesota Zoo – it’s a great place to visit in any kind of weather, rain or shine!


Babies at the Castle – American Swedish Institute

With school back in session you might be looking for things to do with the younger kids.  Bring them to the Babies at the Castle event, taking place at the American Swedish Institute Friday, September 28, from 10-11.

The event is designed for babies from newborn to 18 months and their caregivers. If you can’t make it September 7th then mark the 28th on the calendar. There’s also Babies at the Castle events on October 5th and 26th.  Cost: $15 for Caregiver and Child and you can register in advance here. 

Event details:

Explore our newest exhibition, “Gudrun Sjödén – A Colourful Universe,” a fabulous opportunity to immerse yourself and your young one in bright patterns, colors and textures.

Each tour is approximately 30 minutes long followed by an additional 15 minutes of sensory play. Participants will receive a wooden teether for each baby.

Leave your strollers at the door as you use your favorite sling or Baby Björn to carry your child through the Mansion before it opens to the general public!

MN State Fair Favorites: Cheap and Free Fun!

MN State Fair Favorites: Cheap and Free Fun!

We love the MN State Fair! We started taking our kids when they were 4 months old, double stroller and all.  We usually go at least once if not twice, spending almost a whole day there.  Typically we don’t arrive when the gates open, we get there around 9 or 10 but we are there until it closes.

A couple years ago  we arrived in time to see the Milk Run take place, before many of the buildings were even open. We still stayed until almost close, and enjoyed a full day. Even spending an entire day there, we still didn’t have enough time to see everything.


The best part about the fair is that it’s for all ages and it can be a thrifty fun day.

One of our must do’s at the fair is to head to the Educational building.  Each year we get a free calendar with our picture on it. The Minnesota Education booth, just inside the big doors, has been giving out free photo calendars for many years.  It’s a simple and free process and the line moves fast.  A great free souvenir, of course we try to do that before anyone spills fair food on their clothes!

One of our favorite inexpensive foods that we seek out is the Apple Freezies.  These are great, especially on a hot day. With a bargain price of around $1.50, it won’t break the bank.  Located in the Horticulture building in the apple area.


There are countless places to stop and relax your tired feet.  A smaller unique venue is a seat inside in the Blue Moon Cafe. Not only do they have some unique food (this year the new thing is the Smoked Soft Serve Ice Cream), but they show old movies.  Yes old, like the black and white movies from the 1950’s era.  I recall one of the films was “Teenagers from Outer Space”.


Another place we almost always stop at is called Sausage by Cynthia, located next to the Current Radio Station.  Their portions are perfect for sharing and our kids like it, especially the wild rice sausage.


We don’t typically do rides, many people do, we just choose to skip out on the Midway.  (If your family does rides, then get the Minnesota State Fair Blue Bargain Book. The first coupon is to save $8 on a sheet of Midway or Kidway Tickets, so you’ve already made back more than the $5 price of the book.) We’ve done the Giant Slide, and the Skyway Rides occasionally. 

A couple years ago we decided to ride the Space Tower ride, three of us had never been on it. It wasn’t very expensive and cheaper than some of the food choices.  A fun birds eye view from the top:


With kids, we don’t always move through the fair really fast, but we cover a lot of ground.  We love that there are so many spots to stop and catch a break or listen to music. 

The animal barns are always a huge hit, just make sure to check the hours when you arrive.  Sometimes they close early for cleaning or changing out the animals. You can also hang out in the Lee & Rose Warner Coliseum to watch animal judging or horse shows. There is LOTS of seating and it’s air conditioned inside, so it’s a comfortable place to spend a long stretch of time.


It’s really true that the State Fair has something for everyone who goes.  Food, Fun and variety is the name of the game for the Minnesota State Fair.  You can find schedules, maps and more information on their website if you’ve never been, or just need a refresher course on the hours, schedule or layout.

Minnesota State Fair Butter Sculptures

Would love to hear why you love the fair, your favorite must see and do things each?  Or maybe a favorite food?

Ready to eat? Check out the Minnesota State Fair NEW Foods for 2018 HERE!

Minnesota State Fair Free and Cheap Fun

Pop Up Splash Pad in Cottage Grove

We all love to stay cool in the summer especially on hot August days.  Cottage Grove is hosting a fun Pop Up Splash Pad event at Woodridge Park starting at 2pm.  Not every park is lucky enough to have an actual splash pad but this park will have some fun water activities for one afternoon.

  • Ice Block Melt Challenge
  • Water Balloon Toss
  • Water Shower from a Fire Truck

*In case of weather issues, check out the facebook event page for cancellation or rescheduling.




Eagan Puppet Wagon

When our kids were young we used to love the puppet wagon events.  A free show and a great way to enjoy a park and maybe even coordinate a picnic lunch.  During the summer, the Eagan Puppet Wagon takes place at Lebanon Hills Regional Park from 10-10:45 Friday mornings (June-mid August).  Are there puppet wagon events in your town that we could share with our readers?  Or what do you enjoy most in the summer?


Nature Play for Wee Ones at the Arboretum

When our girls were young we would seek out activities and places to bring them.  Just a change of scenery and maybe just the right amount of driving so they would nap in the car.  Nature Play for Wee Ones at the Arboretum is a great event for kids 0-5 and is free with admission into the Arboretum.  It takes place Saturday mornings in the summer from 9:30-11am at the Green Play Yard, located outside the Learning Center.

The June/July them is sand and stones, while the August/September theme is leaves, sticks, and cones.  It’s all about nature and learning just happens to be fun which makes it even better.

More specifics about what is offered can be found here on the Arboretum website. 

Teddy Bear Clinic at HCMC

HCMC is offering a free Teddy Bear Clinic this Saturday (May 19th).  The event is a chance for kids to learn about an emergency room, all with their bear as the patient.  You can find more specifics here on their website.

Join us at our Teddy Bear Clinic and patch up your favorite tattered teddy or other stuffed animal. Parents, take the scare out of ER care and ease children’s anxiety related to a medical setting. This event is a great opportunity to help kids become comfortable with medical personnel and the medical equipment they may experience on a visit to the doctor or hospital.

Activities and stations for the kids and their Teddy’s will include:

Stitch loose seams
Listen to heartbeats
Splint broken limbs
Get “teddy” x-rays
See a real ambulance
Visit safety stations

Free bike helmets to kid doctors – while supplies last.