Category Archives: Entertainment

Minnesota Renaissance Festival

The Minnesota Renaissance Festival is a must see event just southwest of the twin cities.  In the past it has been in Shakopee, MN and it sounds like it will be until 2020.  It is a grand event that lasts for weeks.  Each week has a different theme so choose your weekend wisely.  It is only open Saturday and Sunday during the festival.

Weapons are allowed (no firearms, it is the renaissance, not the old west), but you will need to keep your sword peace-tied.  They need to be able to add a cable tie that will prevent you from unsheathing your sword.  Check out the festival’s FAQ‘s section for more details.

Get your tickets ahead of time to save a little cash.  It is open sun or shine so there is no worries about getting rained out.

Puke and Snot at the MN Renaissance Festival
Ha Ha, these guys

There are great shows, some of them are even family friendly.  Puke and Snot is probably my favorite, super funny show.  If the guy who reads poetry shoos your family away from his show there is a reason for it.  Of course there is the jousting event held three times a day.  If you are lucky you will catch the daily parade.

Jousting arena at MN Renaissance Festival

There are many activities for the children.  You can force your children to dual to the death, or until the balloons pop.  You can make them climb a tower.  We saw a kid make it to the top.  It was impressive.  There are tons of games and henna tattoos and other stuff.

Dual at the MN Renaissance Festival
Climbing the tower at the MN Renaissance Festival

Last, but not least you will want to bring a few dollars for the food (just ok), drink (Mead honey wine is a must), and clothing and other goods.  You can find the clothes you need to dress up for next year at the festival.  There are a lot of trade goods like soap, leathers, trinkets, and swords to name a few.

They always suggest eating a turkey leg.  It seems cool, but it isn’t actually that great in my opinion.  Others love it.  I am all about the Mead honey wine even though it is the one alcohol that pushes me down after just one sip.  Literally I start stumbling and spilling after a single sip.  I don’t know why.

Shopping at the MN Renaissance Festival

The first year I went to this festival with the girl who would become my first roommate in college.  She was really into the festival.  I didn’t get it but I had a lot of fun.  Now it is something I enjoy doing every couple of years.  I like to see all of the outfits people wear and watch the shows.  It is just an all around good time.

Oto Days 2016

Oto Days 2016

Oto Days 2016 is when the tiny town of Oto, IA turns into a big town.  The farmers come off the fields to stop in for a few events.  The kids that left for the big cities, around the U.S., come home to reconnect.

So many people sign up to be in the parade that you might think no one will be standing along the side to watch, but that isn’t so.  People line a good part of both sides of main street.  You get to see tractors, classic cars, funny cars, and even a clown.


There are multiple meals during Oto Days.  The firehouse puts on a dinner.  The ambulance serves a breakfast.  The Catholic church serves a broasted chicken dinner, Sneaky’s.


They crown a king and queen, which I believe are the oldest two individuals in town.

A bounce house goes on main street.


They setup the rides on the old grain bin slabs.  


The adults play in a human foosball tournament.  Not an event for the faint of heart.


A man carves wood into art and a woman can make you into a beautiful funny drawing.



Overall there is a lot to see and do at the Oto Days celebration.  There is bingo, a bubble machine, various musical acts, and of course Lefty Leigh’s.

The theme of this year’s Oto Days was Make Oto Great Again.  I have always heard that Oto is a town to tough to die and when you see an event like this one you know exactly why.

Split Rock Lighthouse, Two Harbors, MN

Split Rock Lighthouse, 3713 Split Rock Lighthouse Road, Two Harbors, MN 55616

Split Rock Lighthouse is a historical site and part of the Minnesota Historical Society.  As a site that is part of the Minnesota Historical Society there is a fee to see the lighthouse even if you have a pass for all of the state parks.

You drive in, park your car and enter the visitor center.  There are plenty of things to see in the center and purchase.  One of the items you will need to purchase is a pass to go through the doors that lead out to the lighthouse itself.  It is worth taking a look.

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The lighthouse is right behind the visitor center and there isn’t any scary walks along a long and narrow path like many lighthouses.  It is a rather beautiful lighthouse.

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You can walk around the building next to the lighthouse or wonder through the other area with all of the other buildings.  There is information inside the building next to the lighthouse.  Cover your ears when the fog horns go off.

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Stand back and take in the lighthouse itself.  It is a pretty amazing sight to see.  The best part is that you can go inside and climb to the top.

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The lower part of the lighthouse is rather neat.  There is a stove and a desk for the caretaker to use.  They have people dressed up as caretakers walking around.  I believe there is also a tour that you can take.

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The mechanics of the lighthouse itself are really incredible.  It truly is a beautiful work of art.  The fact that it has a functional aspect as well is just a bonus.

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Climb the staircase to the top and take in the view.  It is rare that you get to climb a lighthouse so that fact that they let you go up into this one makes it very exciting.

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The light at the top of the lighthouse spins around so that boats can see it.

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The view is also quite spectacular from the lighthouse.  Here are a few shots of what you might see when you visit here.

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If you get a chance to visit Split Rock Lighthouse it is completely worth the fee.  The lighthouse is beautiful and  the fact that they let you go inside makes it very exciting.  It is also very accessible from the standpoint that you do not need to take a scary walk to get to it.  There are stairs to get up to it so keep that in mind.

I highly suggest putting Split Rock Lighthouse on your list of things to do if you are in the Twin Harbors, MN area.

After you view the lighthouse you can take a hiking trip into the park itself.  We were just passing through so we skipped the hike, but it looked like it would be fun.


Prairie Berry Winery, Hill City, SD

Prairie Berry Winery, 23837 US-385, Hill City, SD 57745

Hill City, SD, just south of Rapids City has a winery row, and Prairie Berry Winery started it.  I have been to this winery a few times on my way through SD or when visiting the badlands.

The wines are made from the sweet berries that are found on the prairie.  Despite being located in SD this wine maker has a long history of making wine dating back 5 generations.  The first time I visited this winery I knew that these people know what they are doing and I was honestly surprised to find that with all of the novices trying to start wineries these days.

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They have their berry wines and their old world wines.  I really like their wines containing rhubarb.  The sweetness and flavor is just amazing.  Red Ass Rhubarb has a cute little story behind it.  You will have to ask about it when you go there.  Expect to buy a bottle of this one.  It is a delicious mistake.

Calamity Jane with her strawberry flavors is another one of my favorites.  I am a sucker for strawberries.

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When you arrive at the winery you should walk up to the bar and choose your tastings.  They let you try four or five for free.  The individual serving is witty and tells you the back stories which is really neat to learn.  Choose the ones that you like based on your taste testing and then load up a cart.

Buy a case worth for two reasons.  One, when you get these wines home you will find you go through them way faster than you would expect and if you do not live in the area it might be a while before you get back.  They will ship the wines to you if you find that you drank them all, but there are a lot of restrictions including the weather.  This is a testament to a good winery.  A good winery knows that if the temperature is too hot or too cold that the wine will be ruined.  The second reason to buy a case is that there is a discount.

You can combine your wine tasting with some food as well.  They have a variety of sandwiches, cheeses, and pizzas that you can pair with your wine.  There is even a kids menu if you are in the neighborhood on a family vacation.  I tried one of the cheeses while tasting, but we didn’t eat here.  The prices seem reasonable, not cheap, just what I am used to in the cities, so probably a little on the high side for South Dakota.  The kitchen looks really clean.

The wine is amazing.  If you are so inclined, after you enjoy the amazing wine at Prairie Berry Winery you can check out Naked Winery and Stone Face Winery & Distillery.  Both are located just down the road.  I have not been to either one since it seems like they might just be leaching off of Prairie Berry’s customers, but I honestly have no idea.  Maybe they are great.

Prairie Berry Winery is definitely a place I suggest visiting on your Mount Rushmore, badlands vacation or if you live anywhere close by.  It is a great winery that knows what they are doing and makes some super delicious wines.

Dairy Twist, Hill City, SD

Dairy Twist, 12647 US-16, Hill City, SD 57745

Yes, go here and eat.  The food is good old fashioned drive inn food and you will love every bite.

I had the burger and cheese curds which were amazing.  You can get other items as well like shakes and cones and fries and chicken strips and chili dogs.  It may have been the best place that we ate during this particular trip.  Be careful showing up late, sometimes they just close a bit early.

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You can eat both inside and outside.  There is a picnic area just outside of the indoor eating area.

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It is the interesting part about the Dairy Twist.  There are agates, arrowheads, and skulls in a display case in the eating area.  I think they were real dinosaur bones.

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If you are in Hill City, SD you must eat at the Dairy Twist.  They time that they are open is limited so if it is open grab your food while you can.


Pucifer, 2016

I have never been to a rock concert with a wrestling match built into it before.  Maynard James Keenan is a theatrical genius and has an amazing ear for sounds.

When you attend a Pucifer concert you get the experience of that particular album.  The sounds flow in a particular sequence.  The album tells a story and the concert is the visual representation of that story.  There are acts and scenes.  The imagery is carefully put together.

The female counterpart to Maynard in this particular show was a perfect complement to his voice.  She was amazing.  Maynard is shy and in the art of hiding himself on stage the two main singers dressed in such a way as to seem like shadows on the stage.  At least to me it seemed like I was watching shadows in the shadows.

You were to focus on the wrestlers and not the musicians for most of the show.  Wow, the wrestling and energy of those performers was amazing.  The little guy was so talented.  I think he was a gymnast.

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If you have a chance to attend a Pucifer concert grab it.  Between the show and the music I promise you will find something that you love.

We saw this concert performed at the Northrop Auditorium in Minneapolis.  The venue was amazing and the perfect place to see such a performance.

Cyrus Northrop Auditorium, Minneapolis, MN

The Norhtrop Auditorium on the campus of University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, 84 Church St SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455.

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The theater is quite amazing.  We purchased tickets to see Pucifer at this theater in March of 2016.  You can also purchase a parking pass for the parking ramp which is very conveniently located next to the event.

The theater opened back in 1929, but was recently remodeled to include fewer seats.  This was done to guarantee every seat in the house is a great seat.  We were on the third level and I must say the seats were great.

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The sound system is incredible.  You can literally feel the music.  You can see the giant speakers hanging above the stage.  Every word spoken is easy to hear.  Granted their were microphones, but nothing was lost.

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One of my favorite parts about the theater was all of the details, both inside and outside.  Take a look at the patterns around the outside of the stage.  Walking around inside is extremely exciting.  Even the outside has beautiful columns.

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They offer many events at this theater including rock concerts, comedy shows, plays, orchestra, and more.

The smoke alarm system works well.  Someone was smoking on an upper level and set the system off.  We were all asked to leave while they made sure there wasn’t a real fire.  The system makes a strange sound when it goes off and there are flashing lights to alert anyone who is deaf.  I only recently realized why the lights flash.  With the great views and the way you can feel the sound system I think going to an event hear as a deaf person would be a very enjoyable event.  They continued the concert once the theater was cleared.

Lastly, and this has little to do with your theatrical experience, the bathrooms are very nice.  They are large, easy to find, and up to date.  It might not seem that important, but when everyone gets to get up for an intermission at the same time it becomes very important.


Fairburn Museum

Fairburn Museum – 745 Second St, Fairburn, SD 57738

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The Fairburn Museum is the old Public School building.  Like with any small town museum the stories and items inside have real meaning.

There are 3 rooms total in this building.  The 2 classrooms and the gym.  It is actually pretty impressive for how small it is.  There isn’t much in the gym.  I think they use it for events still.

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There are agates from the area which is rocks you can only find in the area.  They really cool with neat designs.

Agates in the case on the left
Agates in the case on the left

My favorite item in the museum is the mountain lion shot by a local woman with a .22 right outside her ranch house.

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There are many old photos and other historical items as well.

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Outside you can play on the equipment.  Lots of fun.

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Vikings Football

Friends at the Vikings gameVikings Football

In Minnesota the NFL football team is called the Vikings.  Being a Vikings fan is one of the most heartbreaking thing that you can be.  Why?  The Minnesota Vikings have an uncanny ability to lose.  If you are like me you will start every game rooting for the team and by the end you just hope they lose.

The Minnesota Vikings have never won a Super Bowl.  They often make it to the playoffs just to fall early.

The game I went to was back in the old Metrodome.  Brett Farve was the quarterback at the time.  The seats were on the goal line.  Seeing the entire field from that spot wasn’t bad, but it isn’t like watching it on TV.

My fuzzy pic of the game taken on a blackberry

Watching or really paying attention to a football game while at the game is very difficult.  Commercial breaks are the cause of this.  The game has lulls constantly as those of you watching on TV are forced to watch a commercial.  At the game you find yourself drifting away from the game.  Then the crowd roars and you realize that they started the play and you missed it.  This will happen to you over and over again.

Football is a great game and really fun to watch, but the commercialization kind of reins it.  That being said the game I went to got super exciting at the end.  Brett Farve led the Vikings team to the greatest comeback of his career and every second counted, every second mattered.

Is going to a game worth it?  I would say it is worth going at least once.  We can only hope that the new stadium will be amazing.

Timberwolves Basketball

Timberwolves basketball

The local NBA basketball team in Minnesota is the Timberwolves.  The who?  Yeah I wasn’t very familiar with the name either.  Apparently they have been a team since 1989 which is around the time I stopped watching basketball.

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Now I stopped watching basketball when I started getting annoyed about these athletes making a ton of money and missing simple shots.  In my mind they make enough to get the ball in the hole pretty much every time.

I didn’t expect much from the game because I didn’t even know any of the big players anymore.  I have to tell you watching live professional basketball is one of the most enjoyable things you can do.  The game is exciting.  The missed shots are devastating unless it is the other team and then they are exhilarating.

It is easy to see what is happening on the court.  It is easy to follow.  Most of all it is easy to pay attention.  I have attended baseball and football games in Minnesota and basketball was the most exciting and easiest to get into.

If you have an opportunity to attend a Timberwolves basketball game go.  You will enjoy it.