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Best Bets: From Sidewalk Days to Agate Days

Find something to do this weekend in the Northland.

Shoppers looked at a large selection of tops offered by Maurices during Sidewalk Days
Shoppers look at a large selection of tops offered by Maurices during Sidewalk Days in 2018.
Bob King / File / Duluth News Tribune
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DULUTH — As you've read in the News Tribune, the Duluth Air Show returns this weekend. Here are six more picks for ways to spend your summer days.

Sidewalk Days in downtown Duluth

Beaulah Walker (left), 10, and her sister Hephzibah, 8, keep themselves entertained eating kettle corn, a favorite snack, during the first day of Sidewalk Days. Bob King / rking@duluthnews.com
Beaulah Walker, left, and her sister, Hephzibah, enjoy a kettle corn snack during the 2018 Sidewalk Days in downtown Duluth.
Bob King / File / Duluth News Tribune

"Downtown Duluth, the Perfect Place," reads a slogan on the website of Downtown Duluth's Greater Downtown Council. That may be a little aspirational, but local kids will likely agree that the temporary addition of an inflatable obstacle course is definitely a step toward perfection. It's part of Sidewalk Days, a three-day shopping festival with dozens of downtown merchants sharing their wares at sidewalk sales from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Friday. Scheduled events include a classic car show and the YMCA's Sidewalk Shuffle 5K; on Friday and Saturday, street dances add to the excitement. For more information, see downtownduluth.com.

See a 'Peach'

A large group of children sit together on risers, smiling and wearing t-shirts reading GIANT PEACH
The kids behind "James and the Giant Peach."
Contributed / Duluth Playhouse

Over three decades have passed since British writer Roald Dahl died, but his signature blend of profound seriousness and sheer whimsy continues to enthrall each new generation. On Friday, the Duluth Playhouse opens a kid-friendly adaptation of the 2010 musical based on Dahl's 1961 novel "James and the Giant Peach," which has a plot so fantastical, it's all but impossible to summarize. Suffice it to say there's a giant peach, there are magically transformed bugs, and there are a lot of adventures. Justin Paul and Benj Pasek ("The Greatest Showman," "La La Land," "Dear Evan Hansen") wrote the songs for this show, which runs through July 24 as one of the last Playhouse productions to be staged at the Depot. For tickets and information, see duluthplayhouse.org.

Lutsen + Songs = Lutsong

Two white-haired white men wearing coats and hats play acoustic guitars with wooded mountain visible in background.
Moose Mountain forms a backdrop for a new Lutsen music festival.
Contributed / Lutsong Music Festival

Big local music acts including Mary Bue, Dusty Heart, Sarah Morris, Erik Koskinen, Teague Alexy and Turn, Turn, Turn are hitting Lutsen this weekend for the inaugural Lutsong Music Festival. The three-day event has acts playing at Caribou Highlands and North Shore Winery. It was created by winery founder Chuck Corliss, singer-songwriter Molly Maher and entrepreneur Scott Schuler, who hope to expand programming to additional events each fall and spring. Extra-musical attractions include power yoga, an art village and a bronze pour. For tickets and information, see lutsongmusicfestival.com.

New Silver Bay music series

Charlie Parr
Charlie Parr.
Contributed / Jason Marck

Not to be outdone among North Shore music cities, Silver Bay is launching a second season of its Music In the Park Concert Series: free live shows at City Center Park, every Friday through Sept. 16. Organizers have some well-respected regional acts lined up, among them Dusty Heart (Sept. 2), Robby Vee (Sept. 16) and Charlie Parr to kick the series off this week. Music starts at 7:30 p.m. with local vendors on hand to supply your food and drink needs. For more information, including the full lineup, see rockywallproductions.org.


Agate a rock, you get a rock, everybody gets a rock!

Brenda Ernest-Windus is astonished by a geode at the 50th annual Agate Days in 2019.
Ellen Schmidt / File / Duluth News Tribune

It's the biggest weekend of the year in Moose Lake, which is hosting its annual Agate Days and Art in the Park festivities Saturday and Sunday. That means art and crafts from Northland makers; a gem and mineral show; a pancake breakfast and a steak fry; and of course, the Carl-Olsen Agate Stampede. No, that's not a cute name for a 5K: It's a very literal stampede for agates, with attendees racing to search thorough gravel, agates and coins scattered across Elm Street. It's safe to call Agate Days, now over half a century old, the premier celebration of Minnesota's official state gem. (Did you even know that was a thing?) For details, see mooselakechamber.com.

Coppertop block party

View of large stone church with modern architecture, topped by triangular copper roof and pointed steeple.
First United Methodist Church at 230 E. Skyline Parkway, Duluth, photographed July 8.
Jay Gabler / Duluth News Tribune

First United Methodist Church, the East Hillside edifice popularly known as the "coppertop church," is pretty pumped about what a news release calls "one of the most exciting events of the summer ... what can only be called a block party." It could perhaps also be called a parking lot rock show with a heck of a view, but by any name, it's a good time on a Monday night. Duluth favorites Big Wave Dave and the Ripples are playing the coppertop lot in a free show starting at 6:30 p.m., with the Room at the Table food truck ready to serve. Organizers encourage attendees to bring donations for the CHUM food shelf. For more information, see fumcduluth.com.

Arts and entertainment reporter Jay Gabler joined the Duluth News Tribune in February 2022. His previous experience includes eight years as a digital producer at The Current (Minnesota Public Radio), four years as theater critic at Minneapolis alt-weekly City Pages, and six years as arts editor at the Twin Cities Daily Planet. He's a co-founder of pop culture and creative writing blog The Tangential; and a member of the National Book Critics Circle. You can reach him at jgabler@duluthnews.com or 218-279-5536.
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