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Duluth summer weekends 2022: A guide to start your planning

Every weekend this summer, there's a festival or big show happening in the Twin Ports area.

Duluth Fourth of July fireworks
Fourth of July fireworks at Bayfront Festival Park.
2010 file / Duluth News Tribune
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DULUTH — We don't need to disparage Duluth winters to frankly acknowledge that summer weekends are particularly precious in the Northland. Our community is making the most of them this year, with annual events returning at a scale not seen since 2019. This thumbnail planner will help you mark your calendar and reserve your tickets for every weekend from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

May 27-30: Memorial Day celebrations

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Red, white and blue was the choice of headwear for a member of the Singing Slovenes taking part in the West Duluth Memorial Day Parade on May 31, 2021.
Steve Kuchera / File / Duluth News Tribune

Despite some wrangling over fees, a compromise with the city will keep West Duluth's annual Memorial Day parade — dating to the 1870s — in town. Watch duluthwomenoftoday.org for details on the parade, which is slated to start at 12:30 p.m. May 30. Across the bridge, the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center is "rebooting" (their word) their Memorial Day weekend community picnic and military vehicle show on May 28 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Also in Superior this weekend, Earth Rider Brewery will host a band that's never needed rebooting because they've never stopped reggae-rocking: 311, on May 28.

June 3-5: Drama at the NorShor

A woman in dark coat and sunglasses stands on a table onstage as actors stand around her holding hand mirrors in her direction.
Jen Maren stars as Marjorie Caldwell in the History Theatre production of "Glensheen."
Contributed / Duluth Playhouse

The NorShor is highlighting the history of two larger-than-life figures, on stage and on screen. On stage, the Duluth Playhouse is hosting the History Theatre production of "Glensheen," a musical about the real-life murders that happened at that historic estate in 1977. Actor Jen Maren, who created the role in 2015, returns as Congdon daughter Marjorie Caldwell, a complex and chilling character. That show runs from June 3-12 — but at 6 p.m. June 5, the onstage action will pause for a screening of "Citizen Kane," the 1941 Orson Welles classic inspired by the outsize life of publishing tycoon William Randolph Hearst.

June 10-12: Grand Marais Art Colony turns 75

Grand Marais
With the downtown of Grand Marais beyond it, the schooner Hjordis sails across the town’s harbor on its way to Lake Superior.
Steve Kuchera / File / Duluth News Tribune

The Grand Marais Art Colony was founded in 1947 as a post-war "summer refuge for artists seeking to study in an inspiring natural setting," according to the colony's website. The program — which now occupies extensive space for studios, classes, and exhibits — is celebrating its 75th birthday with a year of activities that include an art show and historical display that debut with a reception June 10. Down in Duluth, Wussow's Concert Cafe is celebrating its own birthday with a five-day "Pete Fest," named after doorman "and scene fixture" Pete Cich, from June 8-12.

June 17-19: Grandma's Marathon and Juneteenth

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Dakota Lindwurm of Eagan, Minnesota, hugs Leah Hulst, dressed as "Grandma," after Lindwurm won the women's championship at Grandma's Marathon in Duluth's Canal Park on June 19, 2021.
Clint Austin / File / Duluth News Tribune

Grandma's Marathon happens on June 18, but if you're not one of the athletes taking down the 26.2 miles, there are plenty more opportunities to get in on the action. Besides the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon (also June 18) and the William A. Irvin 5K (June 17), there's a fitness expo (June 16), a spaghetti dinner (June 17, subsequent marathoning not required but perhaps recommended), and a two-day Bayfront music festival headlined by Viva Knievel (June 17-18). This weekend also marks Juneteenth: There will be a Twin Ports Juneteenth celebration at Barker's Island in Superior on June 18, followed by the NAACP's annual Juneteenth Jubilee at Duluth's Central Hillside Community Center on the holiday itself, June 19. Also, up on the North Shore, Lutsen's Hopped Up Caribou Brewfest is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

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June 24-26: Park Point Art Fair

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Warren Slocum waits for customers at his booth for Doo Da Woodworks & Glassworks at the Park Point Art Fair in 2019.
Tyler Schank / File / Duluth News Tribune

As an artist, you have to be pretty confident to bring your wares to the annual Park Point Art Fair: The ever-present lake views threaten to be a happy distraction for the patrons who promenade the Point taking in the paintings, sculptures and craftwork on display. This year's fair runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 25 and 26. Also on June 25, CHUM celebrates Minnesota's ultimate renewable resource with the Rhubarb Festival, promising "rhubarb fun for everyone!" Rhubarb pies? Absolutely. Rhubarb lemonade? Drink up! Rhubarb brats? Yep, that's a thing! Rhubarb burritos? OK, you see where this is going.

July 1-4: Fourth Fest

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Ever elusive, always generous: Star Wars character Ahsoka Tano, left, hands candy to Braelyn Whitford during the Superior Fourth of July parade on Belknap Street.
Jed Carlson / 2021 file / Superior Telegram

This is "the Midwest's greatest Fourth of July celebration and fireworks extravaganza," according to a completely unbiased source, Visit Duluth. The big party happens July 4 at Bayfront Festival Park, with fireworks and a free Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra concert, but that venue will be hopping all weekend: There's the Bayfront Country Jam on July 1, a Disney tribute band July 2 and Hairball on July 3. Meanwhile, there will be animatronic dinosaurs at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center. (Yes, really.) If a parade is your jam, Superior has you covered July 4. After all that, you'll be ready to relax with a beach read, which you can conveniently pick up July 1 at Zenith Bookstore's fifth birthday party.

July 8-10: Movies in the Park, Turtles on the water

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Liyra Louks, 9, of Duluth, throws a hoop made of glow necklaces over the head of her father, Scott Louks, of Duluth, before the screening of "The Land Before Time" at Movies in the Park on July 9, 2021, at Leif Erikson Park.
Clint Austin / File / Duluth News Tribune

The people have spoken: In a social media vote, they picked films including season opener "Sing 2 " to play on the big screen at Duluth's Leif Erikson Park. Watch for films every Friday (with one exception, on Sunday, July 17) from July 8 through Aug. 26. This weekend also sees hometown heroes Trampled by Turtles playing Bayfront Festival Park in their first local show since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Their openers will be stunning singer-songwriter Jenny Lewis and a Twin Ports artist to be determined: the winner of Trampled by Turtles' $5,000 "Palomino Grant."

July 15-17: Air power

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All eyes are on the sky as the United States Air Force F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team performs June 26, 2021, during the Duluth Air and Aviation Expo at the Duluth International Airport.
Clint Austin / File / Duluth News Tribune

On July 16 and 17, Thunderbirds, barnstormers and a bomber will take the skies above the Duluth International Airport for the Air & Aviation Expo, also known as the Duluth Airshow. The event will also include planes to pet on the ground, as well as a Kids Zone with an "extreme air power jump ride" and an "inflatable turbo shuttle slide." Cue the Kenny Loggins! If you'd prefer to look down instead of up, Downtown Duluth Sidewalk Days (July 13-15) will be wrapping up — and Moose Lake is celebrating Agate Days, on July 16. Plus, Bayfront Festival Park hosts a July 16 Reggae & World Music Festival.

July 22-24: Festival By the Lake

Aerial view of Duluth's Lift Bridge, with the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center seen in background along Duluth Harbor Basin.
Bayfront Festival Park, seen in this aerial view, is home to Festival By the Lake.
Contributed / Northern Images for the DECC

"Festival By the Lake" is the new (as of last year) name for the event formerly known as Taste of Duluth, taking place this year July 23 at Bayfront Festival Park. With eateries busy serving customers at their own spots during the packed summer season, the new branding shifts the focus to a broader mix of food, drink, music and shopping. Ultimately, according to the event's website, "Festival by the Lake is exactly what the name says, a festival by the lake … our very own Lake Superior." Hard to argue with that.

July 29-31: All Pints North

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Mariah Lyscio, of Minneapolis, laughs as her canoe rocks at All Pints North beer festival in 2017. The canoe was part of Voyageur Brewing Co.'s "Boundary Waters Experience."
Mike Krebs / File / Duluth News Tribune

Minnesota's most bucolic beer festival, All Pints North is a Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild event featuring live music, food vendors and product samples from about half of the state's breweries. The suspense this year will be the same as ever: Can any brewery from outside of Duluth possibly take beat the locals' home field advantage and scoop the crowd-voted award for Best Beer, or the even more prestigious Best Booth? Find out July 30.

Aug. 5-7: Festival of Sail

U.S. Brig Niagara
The U.S. Brig Niagara enters Duluth Harbor in 2008.
File / Duluth News Tribune

With Duluth's harborfront under construction, the tallships that have previously anchored there are sailing north to Two Harbors for this year's Festival of Sail. It hasn't been a particularly smooth sail to date, with the festival getting caught up in a controversy when the initial contract for coordinating the event went to a new organization incorporated by Mayor Chris Swanson's daughter, Ashleigh. That organization is now out of the picture and the event is handling its own affairs. Several majestic sailing ships will be available to view and visit from Aug. 4-7. Will there be sea shanties? Need you ask? Also happening this weekend: West Duluth's Spirit Valley Days and the City on the Hill Christian music festival.

Aug. 12-14: This is war, Peacock!

NorShor Theatre marquee, seen in medium shot along Superior Street, advertising Duluth Playhouse production of "Ragtime."
The NorShore Theatre, home of the Duluth Playhouse, seen in March.
Contributed / Wes Drummond

"Clue" started as a board game in 1949, becoming a cult classic movie in 1985. The movie was adapted into a play in 2020, and that play was slated to hit the NorShor stage in January before being postponed to August due to COVID-19. If you've followed all that so far, you'll be in good stead to suss out the culprit when Mr. Boddy hosts a bawdy party with a body count. Produced by the Duluth Playhouse, "Clue" runs from Aug. 12-21. Meanwhile, the lineup for the Aug. 12-14 Bayfront Blues Festival is no mystery: It includes Dwayne Dopsie, Ruthie Foster and Canned "On the Road Again" Heat.

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Aug. 19-21: Art in park

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Joel and Karleigh Hatland, of Duluth, look at items at the Dream Chimes booth at Art in Bayfront Park in 2014.
Steve Kuchera / File / Duluth News Tribune

If you were too nervous to buy art in June and carry it back across the Aerial Lift Bridge, you can play it safe and hit a mainland art fair this weekend at Bayfront Festival Park. The aptly named Art in Bayfront Park event brings over 150 artists — including "culinary artists," note — to the harbor's edge Aug. 20 and 21.

Aug. 26-28: Dragon Boat Festival

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Members of the Technicasualties team celebrate after paddling in the Lake Superior Dragon Boat festival at Barker's Island in Superior in 2019.
Clint Austin / File / Duluth News Tribune

Free for spectators, the Lake Superior Dragon Boat Festival is a Superior Bay race among dragon boats: paddled longboats that go back two millennia in Chinese culture, relaunched in Hong Kong in the 1970s as the modern sport being showcased in Superior. Each boat is rowed by a 22-member team, with the Rotary Club helming the charitable event Aug. 26-27. The dragon boats are returning this year for the first time since 2019, and festival chairman Ben Damberg told the Superior Telegram, "We’re trying to go back to what summer is in Superior."

Sept. 2-5: Labor Day Pride

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Ethan Lien, 15, of South Range, from left, Cyrus Olson, 14, of Superior, and Jupiter Maki march in the Duluth Superior Pride Parade on Sept. 5 in Superior.
Clint Austin / File / Duluth News Tribune

Duluth Superior Pride hits the Twin Ports from Sept. 1-4, kicking off with a joint mayoral reception. On Sept. 3 at Bayfront Festival Park, the local Pride festival celebrates its 36th anniversary with entertainment, activities and information. Then, on Sept. 4, the Pride Parade lines Superior's Tower Avenue with loud and proud crowds cheering the colorful floats. Not a bad way to say goodbye to summer and pivot to fall color season.

This story was updated at 4:15 p.m. May 23 to correct the number of years Duluth Superior Pride has existed as an event. It was originally posted at 8:01 a.m. May 23. The News Tribune regrets the error.

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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