The heat, the hot dogs, the hoopla… the Fourth of July is coming! Arguably the quintessential summer celebration in Minnesota, the 4th is a great time to get together and practice some patriotism.

It can be fun to host a gathering at home with slushies and sparklers and sprinklers. But sometimes it’s fun to join in the celebrations put on by so many towns across the state!

It’s  just something about the pancake breakfasts, the people, and the parades… Minnesota is famous for awesome town festivals!

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There’s just no Fourth of July like a small-town Fourth of July. So if the fried food, cold drinks, and star-spangled spectators are calling to you, check out which towns have the best Fourth of July celebrations!

Elysian

With numerous activities like a medallion hunt, a classic car show, kids’ fishing contest, and bean bag tournament (just to name a few), Elysian’s Fourth of July Celebration lasts a full ten days from start to finish!

The festivities include a flea market, a silent auction, and one of the longest parades south of the metro. In addition to the traditional parade with candy, military units, and pageant princesses, the Lake Francis Lake Association hosts a boat parade!

Participants decorate their boats to look like floats, turn up their patriotic tunes, and drive the perimeter of the lake. Park along the lakeshore or join a friend on a dock and observe this small-town act of patriotism.

Perhaps the most-anticipated event during Elysian’s extravaganza is the culmination. The fireworks. The city shoots the fireworks up from DNR property on Lake Francis, and it’s tradition for community members to watch from their boats.

If you’ve got a watercraft, head to the lake at dusk, drop your anchor, and be awed by their incredible fireworks display. Be ready to join in all the boat-horn honking that follows the finale!

See their full list of events here.

Longville

Best-known for their famed turtle races that occur every Wednesday during the summer months, Longville also hosts a fantastic 4th of July celebration. It all begins the evening of July 3rd with Music in the Park at Salem Lutheran Church. After that, Longville packs a lot of great activities into one day of celebration!

On the Fourth, numerous food vendors take over a city parking lot. Selling everything from cheese curds to sno-cones, the wide variety of options ensures there’ll be treats for everyone to enjoy. A bean bag tournament and beer garden will appeal to adults, while kids can jump for joy in the free inflatables! Don’t forget some cash for the town’s pie sale!

A traditional parade rounds out this patriotic party, and fireworks shot over Girl Lake will end the celebration with a boom. Check out the official flyer here.

Warroad

Also known as “Hockeytown USA,” the far-north city of Warroad hosts an action-packed Independence Day Celebration! This year’s festivities kick off on June 30th with Warroad Summer Theatre’s production of Peter Pan, which will reprise on July 1st.

Other events over this six-day celebration include a church breakfast, kids’ races, a dunk tank, and a parade. A street dance one evening and a movie in the park on another make this All-American party friendly and fun. With vendors selling everything from kettle corn to mini donuts to gyros and kebabs, there’s a treat for everyone!

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Photo by Annie O’Donnell

And if you get tuckered out from all the walking and sightseeing, stake out a spot in the bleachers to watch the Warroad Muskies round the bases! As the lights come on at the field and the sun goes down, spectators can prepare to watch the fireworks that will be shot off at dusk.

Photo by Annie O’Donnell

The big-ticket event for this year’s celebration will be a concert by American Idol contestant Phil Stacey, who will perform on the evening of the 5th.

For a complete list of all the events, a flyer can be viewed on Warroad’s Facebook page, here.

Austin

From June 30-July 4, Austin’s Freedom Fest runs nearly endless activity options appealing to just about every member of the family. There’s lots of music to be enjoyed at this festival, including a free concert, a street dance, a community band performance and a dance recital. There’s also a bike race, a kids’ fishing contest, and a 5-mile run for the active festival-goer, and an outdoor movie at the town’s bandshell.

There’s also a bike race, a kids’ fishing contest, and a 5-mile run for the active festival-goer, and an outdoor movie at the town’s bandshell.

Horse-drawn wagon rides and bingo provide a nice balance for the higher-intensity activities. Performances on the bandshell stage will keep everyone entertained, showcasing everything from Big Band music to magic to a concert by the town’s symphony orchestra.

And of course, a giant fireworks display will begin at dusk… on July 3rd AND July 4th!

View the full calendar of patriotic events in this southern Minnesota city here.

Harmony

Known as the “Biggest Little Town in Southern Minnesota,” Harmony’s 4th of July festival is all big and no little. Activities begin on July 2nd with a 5k run, and end at dark on the 4th with a magnificent fireworks display.

In between, visitors can indulge in libations at the beer garden, enjoy a free petting zoo at the park, or partake in a pork chop dinner hosted by a local church.  

There’s also pony cart rides and train rides, a kiddie pedal pull, and various rides and slides for the younger bunch. With a grand parade and plenty of vendors (ice cream, burgers and brats are a few of the choices), Harmony has left nothing to be desired from this patriotic party.

See the rundown of events here!

Baudette

If you find yourself way up north over the holiday, Baudette’s 4th of July event is the perfect way to celebrate the holiday! Because it’s a one-day event, the Walleye Capital of the World’s festival is crammed full of fun– with the usual patriotic festivities and a few small-town touches.

Fuel up with breakfast at the Moose Lodge before the Firecracker 5k, and cool down later at the pie and ice cream social. Four different music/entertainment acts will be performing throughout the day, so bring a lawn chair or blanket with you when you wander down Main Street.

Free water wars and inflatables will help keep your family occupied and cool, and don’t forget to attend the bobber races on the Rainy River! Later on, a street provides the perfect opportunity to listen to music and blow off steam no matter if your bobber wins or loses!

“Northern Minnesota’s Most Spectacular Fireworks Display” will shoot off at 10:15 pm over Baudette Bay. Supposedly the best seats in the house are at Willie Walleye Park, so get there early!

Baudette’s entire list of 4th of July events can be found on the Chamber of Commerce website, here.

Prinsburg

Located in central Minnesota about half an hour south of Willmar, the tiny town (one square mile!) of Prinsburg puts on an awesome 4th of July celebration that is not only fun but benefits the town school, Central Minnesota Christian School.

The festivities kick off with a golf scramble on July 3rd, and include a silent auction, bean bag tournament, trap shooting and bed races! There’s also a Freedom Fun Run, pedal pull, inflatables and mini golf, and other activities appropriate for all ages. This family-friendly fest is preceded by a medallion hunt at the end of June. Take note that Prinsburg presents their fireworks display on July 3rd!

This family-friendly fest is preceded by a medallion hunt at the end of June. Take note that Prinsburg presents their fireworks display on July 3rd!

For the full list of activities, Prinsburg’s 4th of July flyer can be viewed here.  

New London/Spicer

Another local favorite in the Willmar area, this Fourth of July fest is put on by two neighboring towns. The party begins on July 1st and runs through the 4th, with a street dance opening the festivities on Saturday night!

For the novice American Picker, there’s an antiques sale and flea market to sift through. It runs the entire four days, so you can revisit and rediscover over and over.

There’s also a famed Briggs-Motley craft show that will be set up for the whole celebration. These well-known craft fairs specialize in ceramics, baby items, woodworking, and much more! Bring your cash and take home a memento from the holiday.

Saving the best for last, New London/Spicer puts on a Grand Parade during the cooler morning hours on the 4th, and sets off fireworks at dusk that evening. Other kid-oriented activities like a petting zoo make this holiday event a summer highlight for central Minnesotans, young and old.

Details are still forthcoming, so keep an eye on their website, here.

Pequot Lakes

In an area well-known for world-class lakes and golf clubs, the picturesque hamlet of Pequot Lakes (30 minutes north of Brainerd) hosts a stellar Fourth of July celebration!

Stars & Stripes Days is a two-day event filled with family-friendly activities. Food vendors will open up shop at 5 pm on the 3rd, with the beer garden opening an hour later. A bean bag tournament and live band performance will round out the evening!

Like many other small towns, Pequot Lakes will shoot their fireworks off on July 3rd at sunset. There’s quite a few good viewing spots, so do some research and pick a great vantage point to see the lights!

The 4th of July is loaded with activities, beginning with a pancake breakfast put on by the firehouse. A flea market and craft fair, plus, live music will entice you to roam the streets and eat from all the food vendors. There’s plenty for kids to do too, from trampolines to bed races to a kiddie parade!

The party all ends at noon, with the Stars & Stripes Parade. And if you just haven’t fulfilled your USA yearnings yet, that’ll give you time to find another celebration to get to for the rest of the Fourth!

Check out the rundown on Stars & Stripes Days here.

When the right activities, food, music, and people all combine, it makes for the perfect 4th of July celebration. Nothing says summer like the sweet smell of mini donuts and the sight of your children scrambling for candy!

And though the hustle and bustle of a big-city celebration has its perks, the quaint patriotism of small-town Minnesota just can’t be beat.

So pick a town, plant your lawn chair, and get ready to watch those red, white and blue rockets… it’ll all make you pretty “proud to be an American.”

2 COMMENTS

  1. I’d like to chat with someone about this list. You see, the North Morristown 4th of July is the oldest 4th of July Celebration in Southern Minnesota. Each year, we get thousands of people coming out to our rural, old-fashioned celebration. With a silent auction, a parade, food, rides, games, a beer garden, medallion hunt, all-day music, and more, this event surely deserves to be on this list! Find them on Facebook at North Morristown 4th of July Celebration.

    • That sounds like an awesome 4th celebration, Ashley! It’s so hard to track down every great fest and fit them all in 🙂 Thanks for letting us know about yours!

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