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

Balloonacy Is Back At The Children’s Theatre Company

Balloonacy, can simply be described as, the best first play for kids that I’ve seen.  Balloonacy is full of surprises, joy, innocence, laughter and fun.  We’ve been to many plays over the years, so I’m often asked what age should kids first see a play, and what that play should be.  I can now say that Balloonacy is my choice as the perfect first play.  With a simple non-verbal story, one actor, and a balloon it’s a perfect play for the younger age group.  It’s in the small Cargill Stage area, which provides a closer more intimate feel, plus some up close, and personal seating is offered to the kids.  Try to arrive a little early, about 15 minutes or so as they offer some fun activities for the kids, and the adults prior to the show.

Robert Dorfman in Balloonacy Photo Credit Dan Norman


CCT Staff interacting with a younger audience member before the show.

Nationally Award Winning Balloonacy Inspires the Very Young

Featuring Robert Dorfman

Directed by Peter C. Brosius

October 3 – November 12, 2017

Minneapolis, Minn. – Children’s Theatre Company (CTC) will present Balloonacy, written by Barry Kornhauser and recipient of the American Association of Theatre in Education (AATE) Distinguished Play Award. Kornhauser also wrote the script for CTC’s upcoming, world premiere production of Corduroy. Balloonacy will star Robert Dorfman (Broadway: The Lion King; Touring: The Drowsy Chaperone; TV: Boardwalk Empire) who originated the singular role of the Old Man in 2014. Directed by Peter C. Brosius, this production will be the first show he directs in his 20th year as CTC’s Artistic Director. Scenic Design is by Annie Rollins, Costume Design by Mary Anna Culligan, Lighting Design by Rebecca Fuller Jensen (Pinocchio, The Biggest Little House in the Forest, The Cat in the Hat) and Sound Design by CTC’s resident composer/music director Victor Zupanc.

Imagine a single balloon changing one person’s life forever. It starts so simply: A balloon drifts through the window of a lonely old man’s home on his birthday. Then something surprising happens – then something silly, wonderful and so blissfully fun that you barely notice you’ve learned something special about friendship along the way. Perfectly designed with the preschooler in mind, rediscover play in this back-by-popular-demand production!

Balloonacy is a tender, non-verbal, physical theatre show that reflects on all stages of friendship,” states Director Peter C. Brosius. “It is both a celebration of the complicated nature of friendship, as well as a call to embrace play, laughter and joy. While this production is designed for preschool age children, it is truly one that multiple generations can come to together and find something in it, no matter what age.”

Reflecting back on the early development of this work, Barry Kornhauser said, “Probably my favorite thing about this little play is its welcoming inclusiveness. Some years back Peter [Brosius] and Elissa [Adams] kindly invited me to join a series of CTC convenings funded by the Bush Foundation to explore approaches to early child development and their application to theater. One of many things made abundantly clear in that process was that early learners come into contact with reality more on a bodily-sensory basis than a linguistic one. Without dialogue, this play becomes accessible to all children.”

Dr. Amy Susman-Stillman, Director of Applied Research and Training at the University of Minnesota is particularly thrilled about CTC’s commitment to creating plays for the very young. “CTC, with the incredible vision and foresight of Peter Brosius, is to be commended for its innovative integration of theatre arts and early childhood education. CTC had been impressively thoughtful about using theory and evidence to continually ensure that their work is developmentally appropriate, engaging and effective. Through its now regularly-occurring preschool productions such as Balloonacy, Early Bridges and Theatre Arts Training programs, CTC is on the forefront of using theatre arts to creatively advance school readiness for all preschoolers.”

The production is presented in the Cargill Theatre with an experience configured particularly for the very young. A CTC original production, Balloonacy opens October 3 and runs through November 12 and is best enjoyed by preschoolers. Lap passes are available for ages 18 months and younger. Individual show tickets can be purchased at or by calling the ticket office at 612.874.0400. Allergy note: The balloons used in this show are latex, however they do not touch or go near the audience at any point during the production.


30 minutes with no intermission


The Ticket Office is accessible by phone two hours prior to most performances.

Email: [email protected] (inquiries only, no ticket processing)
Phone: 612.874.0400


ASL/AD Performance: November 1 at 10:30am & November 4 at 2pm

Lap passes are available for ages 18 months and younger

The show runs now through November 12th.



Children’s Theatre Company’s The Abominables Review + Discount Ticket Code

The unique combination of music, singing, and skating, come together amazingly well in the Abominables.  I have to admit, I had my doubts if we would like this show.  We love theater and enjoy going to plays and musicals, but hockey and skating on stage?  I wondered, if because we aren’t a rough and tumble hockey family, could any of us actually enjoy this musical?

My daughter and I went in with open minds, we laughed and smiled and yes we enjoyed it without a doubt. Right from the start with the first song, a song about Minnesota, I heard the laughter and saw the smiles around me.  I would have to agree with the age suggestions for this one.  The story, the lessons and yes the humor are all geared for the 8 and up. Some of the humor might go above the heads of the younger crowd, but adults, this is one that will have you laughing. With a smaller cast of less than 30 members, it means if you look hard you will see some of the actors and actresses playing multiple roles.  I felt this made it that much more humorous, especially during some of the arena scenes as well as the kitchen scene.

This musical is more than just hockey and music, there’s some really great lessons intertwined in it.  Lessons about loosing something we try so hard to grab onto and winning something that’s right in front of us, and we can’t see it.  Realizing that just because someone is different, we can still learn things from them, great lessons for all ages.   #CTCAbominables

We are also very excited to share with all of our readers, a $10 promo code for tickets.  Click here for more information on the discount.

Minneapolis, Minn. – Children’s Theatre Company (CTC) is proud to bring to the stage, the very first Minnesota hockey musical, The Abominables. Produced in association with New York City’s extraordinary theatre company The Civilians, the musical is written and directed by Steve Cosson with music and lyrics by Michael Friedman and choreography by Joe Chvala. The satirical musical was created over a six-year period through CTC’s Threshold new play development program; the development of which included interviews with over 75 hockey players, coaches and family members across Minnesota at tournaments, games and practices.

“The Abominables began when Michael and I were invited by CTC to immerse ourselves in the world of Minnesota youth hockey to see if we might be inspired to create a musical,” states director and playwright Steve Cosson. “During our research period, our creative team met lots of hockey kids, parents and coaches; we traveled to tournaments and spoke to everyone we could. Armed with some real life material, we then opened up our imaginations, and once the notion of a young hockey-playing yeti showed up, we knew we were onto something.”

“The topic Steve and Michael were interested in exploring was youth sports, which seemed to have transformed, in the course of one generation, from recreational, park and school-based programs to specialized, year-round training with paid coaches and competitive team placement at an early age and the culture that has grown up around that,” Director of New Play Development, Elissa Adams reflects on the beginning of the process.

This production also kicks off Peter C. Brosius’ 20th Anniversary season as CTC’s Artistic Director. “It is exciting to kick off this dynamic season with a brand new musical especially developed with and for Minnesotans. Steve and Michael brought a depth of research to the creation of this new work that their company, The Civilians is especially known for. This hilarious musical is full of heart and insight into our pursuit of success and how we define it.”

Rink rats, hockey moms, tournament weekends and the quest to play your best – It’s tryout season in the Great State of Hockey! Mitch has always played on the A team for the Prairie Lake Blizzards – these are his guys – they’ve played together forever, but he’s worried this could be the year he gets sent down to the B team. When a new “kid” appears at Bantam tryouts, things go from bad to worse. From the land of ice and nice comes the first Minnesota hockey musical! Will you love it? You betcha!

CTC is also offering the opportunity for youth hockey associations to use the show as a fundraiser. For every The Abominables ticket purchased by a youth hockey association’s constituents, CTC will give $4 per ticket to that particular association through August 23, and $2 per ticket through October 15. To participate, associations can contact Regina Hanson, Marketing Manager at [email protected] or by phone at 612.872.5112.

A CTC commissioned world premiere, The Abominables opens September 12 and run through October 15, 2017 on the UnitedHealth Group Stage and is best enjoyed by ages 8+. Individual show tickets and subscriptions can be purchased at or by calling the ticket office at 612.874.0400. This world premiere production is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Ruth Easton Fund of the Edelstein Family Foundation.

Children’s Theatre Company (CTC) is the nation’s largest and most acclaimed theatre for multigenerational audiences. It creates theatre experiences that educate, challenge, and inspire for more than 275,000 people annually. CTC is the only theatre focused on young audiences to win the coveted Tony Award® for Outstanding Regional Theatre and is the only theatre in Minnesota to receive three Tony® nominations (for its production of A Year with Frog and Toad). CTC is committed to producing world class productions at the highest level and to developing new works, more than 200 to date, dramatically changing the canon of work for young audiences.


Kayaking in Southern Minnesota

Just this past weekend, on a bright sunny day we decided to give kayaking a try.  All four of us have tried it at a friends cabin, just skirting some lake shore.  This time we decided to step it up a notch, we rented some kayaks and headed down the Zumbro River.

I wish I could I tell you that we found a secret free adventure, we did not.  What I can tell you is that we found one of the least expensive options.  We found some discounts for places that offer kayaking on lakes but we wanted to go down a river.  We chose a smaller business called Zumbro Falls River Ratz, as they were the least expensive we found for what we wanted to do.  We each wanted our own kayak, not tandem for this excursion.  The company we chose offers several different kayak options as well as tubes and canoes.  The Zumbro Falls River Ratz is a company that offers transportation, another thing we were looking for.  They drove us up the river and then we kayaked down, ending up where our vehicle was parked.  Thankfully we chose an almost perfect day, nice and sunny and not too hot.  It took us a little over two hours to go the six miles route on the river.

Just a few tips if you decide to give kayaking a try:

  • Make sure you’re prepared with the right type of payment, the company we chose is cash only.
  • Check the water conditions or weather with the place you want to rent from the day of day or day before
  • Wear Sunscreen
  • Be prepared that you will get a little or perhaps a lot wet, sort of your chose which one will happen.
  • If you want to bring lunch or a camera make sure to bring waterproof containers
  • The right footwear, especially if you plan to get out during the ride
  • Watch for wildlife along the route, we spotted:  turtles, a beaver, as well as several different birds and bugs.

We all enjoyed our day and will either be back to this same company and location yet this summer, or we just might branch out and try a completely different river in MN.

If you’ve rented kayaks in MN, is there a company or location you would recommend?  We still have a lot of summer left and would love to go exploring so please share your tips and suggestions. 


Few Seats But Great Eats – Best Tiny Restaurants in the Twin Cities

Sometimes going out to eat is just hoping there’ll be a seat when you arrive.  Sure, some of the fancy places take reservations, but if you want down home cooking then that’s probably not an option.  We love to try off the beaten path places and have discovered a selection of few seats but great eats in Minneapolis and St. Paul. We think these are a few of the best tiny restaurants in the Twin Cities for down-home cooking!

Our most recent adventures took us to Our Kitchen, located in South Minneapolis.  This small place only has about 19 seats – yes you read that correctly 19. Some are at the counter and the rest line up to face the seat.  We lucked out and only had a short 5 minute wait before three seats opened up.  We each ordered breakfast and all agreed it was delicious and would be back.  I’m thinking our secret to lucking out and getting seats was the fact that we arrived a half hour before they closed up.  Everyone was friendly and many were greeted by name.

It’s been a few years since I’ve been to Al’s Breakfast but I recall delicious pancakes. It’s located in the Dinky Town area of Minneapolis, not too far from the University of Minneapolis campus.  I’m hoping to bring our girls this summer. This little gem with only 14 seats means that you need to be prepared to wait a bit.

The third of the few seats but great eats is probably the most of famous of all.  Mickey’s Dining Car is located in St. Paul and is on the National Register of Historic Places.  This is the only one of the three where you can eat at night -the other two are morning and early afternoon only.  When we ate here it was in the evening and we enjoyed some great malts and burgers.  The best part was sitting at the counter watching the cook.  Our girls were in awe of all the tiny drawers and spaces where the food was kept.   Mickey’s does have a few more seats than the previous places I mentioned, but don’t get too excited as it’s still pretty limited seating.

I would love to know if there are other few seats but great eats around the metro or even outstate Minnesota.  Please let us know, we would love to give them a try.

Fantastic Funtabulous Cinderella at the Children’s Theatre


Photo Credit: Dan Norman

Cinderella is back at the Minneapolis Children’s Theatre.  Two words that fully describe this zany show, fantastic and funtabulous! A show that’s great for the whole family.  Yes, bring the grandparents, bring the kids of all ages. or just go with some friends. It really truly is a show for everyone.  Even the sometimes hard to please middle-school age group will love this one.  It might not quite be your Grandmother’s version of Cinderella, but it will loosely follow the original story.  There’s still Cinderella and a Prince, oh and we cant forget the Stepsisters and Stepmother, all of which are quiet memorable characters. It’s difficult to say, just who steals the show more.  Lot’s of fun music, and memorable moments rolled into this show.  This is also a show with just the right amount of audience participation, you won’t want to get too comfy in your seat.

Cinderella runs now through January 8th, so plenty of options to find a date that works.  Keep in mind, this show is a popular one, so don’t delay in getting tickets.


Photo Credit: Dan Norman

Children’s Theatre Company (CTC) presents the back-by-popular-demand production of Cinderella. This rambunctious musical originally created by CTC brings together the heart-warming, classic story of Cinderella’s transformation, a Victorian Christmas party with lavish period costumes, grandiose sets and holiday carols, with brand-new, clever pop culture references, shameless physical comedy, audience participation, and gut-busting gags.
Cinderella is a favorite for Peter C. Brosius, CTC’s Artistic Director and Director for the show. He states, “This show absolutely has something for everyone – from the pop culture twists, to the surprising jokes told by our wild stepsisters and stepmother, to the tender story and holiday carols we all love – this is an experience unlike anything else for the entire family. I am also thrilled to have our entire Acting Company onstage delighting you in this production full of spectacle, heart and non-stop audience interaction!”
Hold on to your pumpkins! The magical, fantastical, and all-too-hilarious Cinderella returns to our stage for the holiday season. Freshly updated with all new songs, gags, and mayhem, you’ll jeer at the deliciously dysfunctional stepmother and sisters as much as you’ll cheer for Cinderella in her quest to attend the magnificent ball and fulfill her destiny. Put on your glass slippers, and join us for this spectacular and outrageous telling of our unique Cinderella, guaranteed to delight.
The entire CTC Acting Company, who have been entertaining CTC audiences for a combined 106 years, shines in this production that includes Traci Allen Shannon playing the role of Cinderella, Reed Sigmund and Dean Holt playing Cinderella’s stepsisters, Autumn Ness playing the Stepmother, and Gerald Drake playing Lord High Chamberlain. CTC’s 15/16 Performing Apprentice China Brickey will perform as the fairy godmother. David L. Murray, Jr (recently in Theater Latte Da’s Ragtime) will debut at CTC as the Prince.
Music direction is provided by Victor Zupanc, sound design by Sean Healey, choreography by Linda Talcott Lee (Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Choreography), scenic and costume design by Eduardo Sicangco (Lyceum Theatre, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Radio City Music Hall), lighting design by Paul Whitaker (CTC credits as Lighting Designer include The Wizard of Oz, Annie, Shrek the Musical, and more), and puppet design by Eric Van Wyk (CTC Credits as Puppet Designer include Alice in Wonderland, The Biggest Little House in the Forest, Busytown the Musical, and more).
Cinderella runs now through January 8, 2017 on the UnitedHealth Group Stage and is recommended for all ages. Tickets are on sale now starting at $15.  For more information, visit us online at or call the Ticket Office at 612.874.0400. Cinderella is proudly sponsored by Delta.

Photo Credit: Dan Norman

Small Business Saturday 2016

Small Business Saturday

Hopefully you all enjoyed a nice Thanksgiving holiday, then perhaps will spend today shopping or hiking to burn off the calories.   Tomorrow is Small Business Saturday 2016. and although I try to support small businesses all year, tomorrow is a day to acknowledge them even more.  We all have small businesses that we love, perhaps you could comment and share them with us. The places can be anywhere in MN, cause its always enjoyable to find and explore new places.  I’m going to highlight just a couple of places that I have discovered.

Junket:  Tossed and Found, is located in Minneapolis on Minnehaha Avenue.  Junket is a store that specializes in high quality secondhand materials.  Some of the items are sold as is, and are simply second hand, while others have been re-purposed and given a new life.  There’s always something new each time I visit.  On my most recent visit I purchased some jewelry, an ornament, and a piece of artwork.  On occasion they also host classes and community events, check out their calendar.


A growing social enterprise, Junket’s mission is to make it easier for people to connect with good, used stuff – and to help connect beautiful, used things with people who appreciate and will use them. Our environmental solution: to markedly reduce landfill contributions by eliminating barriers to – and creating enthusiasm for – reuse.

Another place I would like to highlight that I just discovered this year is called Repair Laire and although they have a website, the Facebook page is a bit more current.   This business too, has a strong focus on saving things from the landfill, starting out as a repair shop for clothing and outdoor gear (tents, sleeping bags, bags etc).  The store also has a large assortment of consignment clothing and gear, much of it being high end brands.


At Repair Lair we specialize in fixing outdoor clothing and camping equipment. We believe that the greenest gear is the gear you’ve got. By choosing to repair you conserve materials, energy, and the environment. From sewing patches onto your favorite jeans to replacing a broken tent zipper, we can fix almost anything. And if we don’t know how – we know who does.

Please share your favorite small businesses here, either in the comment section of this blog post, or in the comment section of FB. We would love to hear about your favorite places so we too can find them and support them.  They are all over Minnesota, some have been around for many years and others have just recently opened their doors.  Please spread the word.

Our Day at Mystery Cave and Forestville

Minnesota State Park System - Forestville Mystery Cave State Park

Minnesota State Park System

Just recently, our family headed south and enjoyed a day trip to a place none of us had ever been.  A rare thing, since we all call MN our home, and have spent the majority of our lives here.  Our road trip was just under two hours one way.  A perfect time to check out scenery or read books along the way. Our day at Mystery Cave and Forestville, was a lucky beautiful Saturday, with no rain while we were there.  Mystery Cave

Although the actual name of the place is Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park, it really seems like two separate places.  *You will need either a day or annual state park pass to enter either place, plus admission to the town of Forestville and or the cave.

Our day at Mystery Cave and Forestville


We decided to go to the cave first.  If you like to plan things, it might be wise to have your cave tour booked in advance.  We did not do this and lucked out, as they still had openings. I suspect on busy days during the summer, this might not be the case. We went on the “scenic tour” and it was about an hour long.  One thing to note, this tour is quite accessible for those in wheelchairs etc. A rare thing for a cave tour as many require a lengthy amount of stairs to go up and down. Everyone should bring a jacket or sweatshirt as it’s 48 degrees in the cave.  We had a fun tour and our guide Bob, having previously been a science teacher was great and even had a little humor along the way.

Mystery Cave Tours

Discovered in 1937, Mystery Cave is the longest cave in Minnesota – spanning over 13 miles underground. It is a network of passages that was dissolved by moving water.

On the tours, you will travel the subterranean paths this water has taken, seeing many of the features that make up Mystery Cave including stalactites, stalagmites, flowstone, fossils, and beautiful underground pools. Parks naturalists lead your tour through various portions of the cave and explain its history, its features, and how it was formed.

Forestville Mystery Cave State Park


Then we got back in the car and drove over to the “town” of Forestville.  This is why, although it is one State Park, it is two separate areas, just a couple miles a part from each other.  The actual town itself is part of the MN Historical Society so if have a membership, the town would be included in that.  We walked across the bridge and were greeted by, as our daughter called her “a historical lady”.  Yes there were several people dressed up in period clothing to tell the story of the town, and answer questions. Our favorite was the gentlemen in the general store.

Our day at Mystery Cave and Forestville


Each person helped guide and tell the story the town as we went from building to building.  The general store, the house, the garden and the shop.  All took their time to get us involved, and encouraged us to step back in the time.

Our day at Mystery Cave and Forestville


Forestville developed as a pioneer town in the mid-1850s and at its peak boasted a grist mill, school, brickyard, two hotels, two saw mills, a cabinet shop, a blacksmith shop, general store and post office. However, when the Southern Minnesota Railroad bypassed Forestville in 1868, many townspeople and businesses moved to more prosperous communities. By the 1890s, Thomas Meighen’s general store was one of the few remaining businesses in town, and by 1899, he employed everyone, paid workers in store credit and rented them houses that he owned.

Visitors to Historic Forestville today look through the eyes of the Meighen family and their workers to learn about a town experiencing economic and population decline.

Our day at Mystery Cave and Forestville


A great place to road-trip, or perhaps spend the night camping.  Hopefully if you decide to visit, you will have a day with beautiful weather, just like we had.  If you do decide to make the trip make sure to check the hours of operation as well as special events for both places.Our day at Mystery Cave and Forestville


Minneapolis Children’s Theatre Snowy Day Event & Review

Snowy-Day-HeaderComplimentary tickets

It’s almost perfect timing that we have a bit of snow in the forecast. Perfect timing because The Snowy Day and Other Stories by Ezra Jack Keats just opened this past week at the The Minneapolis Children’s Theatre. My daughters and I attended a performance on Friday evening.  We all enjoy theatre and for this specific play, we all chose to be surprised, and not research anything about the performance.



We were pleasantly surprised, the performance was different than many others we had been to at the Children’s Theatre.  There was no elaborate set, no fancy costumes either.  Not even a big cast of characters.  There were just three main characters that we saw on stage.  I see the suggest age for this play is K+.  I think the reason it is suggested for K+ is mainly because of how the play is presented.  The three main characters weave the story in and out of a fantastic display of shadow puppetry. Sometimes the characters are in front of the large screens and other times behind it.  It flows between seeing the characters in person to using your imagination a bit more as the puppets move across the large screens.  It was amazing how real the puppets looked. There were times the audience sat in complete silence, and then minutes later we were singing along or laughing with the characters. The play runs now through March 20th and you can get tickets here.

Photo: Dan Norman

Photo: Dan Norman

Coinciding with the opening of the play, is a great free event event taking place tomorrow.  Most kids have the day off from school. The Be Inspired! ALL ACCESS CELEBRATION takes place tomorrow Feburary 15th from 11am-4pm.

For 50 years, our work on stage, backstage, in the classroom, and in the community has been for you. Celebrate a world of wonder and imagination at CTC’s FREE open house event.

  • Explore the world of theatre magic – costumes, props, scenery
  • Take a Theatre Arts Training (TAT) class
  • Put your Snowy Day shadow puppets to work on the main stage
  • Enjoy storytime with your favorite CTC actors
  • Learn new dance moves from Diary of a Wimpy Kid the Musical
  • Performances by community artists featuring: Maria Isa and Tall Paul
  • Teen talk-back with student performers
  • And more!

Snowy Day Event and Review






Ice Castles Eden Prairie Tips

Disclosure TicketsIce Castle in Eden Prairie

UPDATE: For 2017 Ice Castles is moving to Stillwater, MN. Stay tuned for more info!

Not every place is lucky enough to have snow in the winter.   Even fewer places have the conditions to host an ice castle.   So when I had the chance to take our family to the Ice Castles Eden Prairie, I of course was super excited.  We had such a mild start to winter that I wasn’t quite sure if the Ice Castle would happen or not. It is now here and officially opened up this weekend on Saturday Jan 23rd. They are hoping it will be open into March, but that depends on our slightly unpredictable weather.


Due to our schedules we decided to go today, in the daylight.  I think it would be a great evening activity, especially for older kids or even a date night.  There are two slides and our girls tried the slide that goes through a tunnel and you sit on a sled.  We saw a lot of smiley kids laughing as they came out of the slide.  A smaller slide is also available and that one does not go inside the ice, however it is still made of ice.

Visitors can expect a completely unique kind of ice structure—different than traditional ice palaces that are constructed of blocks. Instead the Ice Castle begins construction with the placement of a single icicle that gets watered and molded to other icicles until the massive structure takes shape. What results are organic formations similar to those found in nature, like waterfalls, glaciers and ice caves. With the help of a team of 10-20 ice artists, the ice is fashioned into towers, archways, tunnels, slot canyons, stalactites, slides and thrones.

One of the most popular features of the Ice Castle is the evening light show. Thousands of LED lights embedded in the ice coordinate with stirring instrumental music to transport guests into a fantastical wonderland. Visitors can also enjoy squeezing, squishing and crawling through parts of the stunning, Narnia-like display.

Ice Castle in Eden Prairie

A few suggestions from my family to all of you that have yet to experience this magical place:

  1. Wear winter boots or hiking shoes.  We saw a few people that were expecting different conditions and wore other foot wear. They wished they hadn’t.  It was cold enough to not be slushy when we went,  but the snow was not packed and winter boots or hiking footwear are quite helpful to get around and keep your feet warm.
  2. If you have younger kids, I would suggest either wearing them on you if you have an infant, or some families brought toddler sleds and pulled toddlers around. The website says strollers are not allowed, and understandably it would be difficult to get around in there with one.
  3. Check out the schedule as there are plans to have entertainment, including princesses as well as fire performances.
  4. The only restrooms are the port a potty kind, so be aware of that in advance.
  5. It will save time and is slightly cheaper if you purchase tickets in advance.
  6. Dress warm, have fun, take photos and look around 🙂


Ice Castles are the brainchild of Utah-based ice artist Brent Christensen, who invented the process used to create Ice Castles in his backyard in 2008 while making an ice cave for his young daughter. This winter, his stunning creations will be found in Eden Prairie, MN; Lincoln, NH; Midway, UT; and Edmonton, Alberta.

“All of our Ice Castles share the same ingredients and process for construction,” said Christensen. “But what’s so cool is that each castle is unique because of Mother Nature’s role in constantly melting, freezing and reshaping the ice. Even within each location, every day provides a new experience.”

Reader Giveaway:
One lucky Thrifty Minnesota reader will win codes for 4 free tickets to Ice Castles Eden Prairie. To enter, just complete the form below by 11:59pm ET on 2/8/16. Good luck!

Ice Castles