Northeastern Minnesota festivals bring the music, art – Duluth News Tribune


While the arrival of August might seem to signal the […]

While the arrival of August might seem to signal the end of summer drawing near, in some places along the North Shore and Northland, festival season is just gearing up. There’s plenty more art to see, music to listen to and food to eat up north.

Here’s a look at what’s yet to come:

Blueberry everything in Ely


The Blueberry Art Festival returns to Ely on Friday.

Ellen Schmidt / 2019 file / Duluth News Tribune

ELY — After a storm ended festivities early at the Blueberry Art Festival in 2021, the festival will return Friday at 10 a.m. in Whiteside Park.

Organizer Ellen Cashman has spent hundreds of hours planning the event layout featuring 200 art, craft and food vendors. “We are excited to have a very diverse group of artists and crafters, including some fantastic ones from the Ely area,” Cashman said. “There’s something for everyone.”

Artists will display jewelry, mixed-media paintings, embroidered textiles, pressed-flower artwork, woodworking, pottery and more. The festival is also a juried show and every applicant is selected by a panel of area artists and crafters, with winners selected in the art and craft categories Friday morning.

And of course, there will be a variety of blueberry foods for purchase from the Ely Kiwanis, including pies, ice cream and sandwiches. Pengal’s Basswood Trading Co. will be selling Blueberry Art Festival T-shirts, sweatshirts and blueberry pop. There’s also a “blueberry list” arranged by the Ely Chamber of Commerce that features blueberry art, crafts and other items for sale for those seeking everything blueberry.

The festival wraps up Sunday at 4 p.m. For details, visit

Catch a traveling opera in field, park or folk school

Mixed Precipitation Opera Truck

“Pickup Truck Opera Volume 2: The Magic Flute” is Mixed Precipitation’s summer traveling opera for 2022.

Contributed / Mixed Precipitation

NORTHEASTERN MINNESOTA — For 14 years, Mixed Precipitation, a Twin Cities-based opera production company, has been touring Minnesota communities in the late summer with its outdoor performances of familiar operas told in new ways. This year’s show, “The Pickup Truck Opera–Volume Two: The Magic Flute,” will travel to several locations, including Cook, Ely, Embarrass, Hovland, Grand Marais and Finland, from Aug. 4-14, according to a news release from the organization.

The show features Mozart’s 1791 opera “The Magic Flute,” but brought into modern day and the near future. It keeps the Mozart’s fiery arias and choruses, but adds in groovy beats from the 1990s. The story of the show follows young professionals as they enter professions with a high risk of burnout, such as teaching and health care.

Audiences are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, blankets and beverages. The shows are free, but with a suggested donation of $10-$25 per person. Watch Mixed Precipitation’s website and social media for weather info on performance days.

To find the performance near you, visit


Celebrate Finnish heritage in Finland (Minnesota)

T11.02.2017 -- Steve Kuchera -- 110417.F.DNT.ArtistSpacesC4 -- Kate and Bill Isles outside their Carlton County cabin, which contains a small recording studio. Steve Kuchera /

Kate and Bill Isles outside their Carlton County cabin, which contains a small recording studio. They will perform at the Tori Finnish Marketplace and Music Fest.

Steve Kuchera / 2017 file / Duluth News Tribune

FINLAND — Looking for a place to celebrate all things Finnish? Look no further than Finland Historical Society’s 21st annual Tori Finnish Marketplace and Music Fest at the Finland Historical Site, 5653 Little Marais Road, on Aug. 13.

Music will kick things off at 10 a.m. with the Two Harbors Ukulele Group, Gene LaFond and Amy Grillo, the Lindula Brothers, Bill and Kate Isles, and Josh Agacki.

“This is truly a something for everyone music event,” read a news release from the Finland Historical Society.

Visitors can also become immersed in Finnish culture with tours of the Historical Site museum, which features a sauna, forestry building, homestead cabin and a schoolhouse. There will be artist and blacksmith demonstrations and an array of art and craft vendors. Try your hand at traditional outdoor games such as molkky, a Finnish lawn game.

The festival is free; however, free-will donations will be accepted for on-site parking. Proceeds will go to the Finland Minnesota Historical Society.

Learn more at


Strum along with ukulele players from around the world

Around 100 ukulele players hold their instruments up in the air.

Ukulele players hold their ukes up in the air and cheer following a strum-along performance as part of the Silver Creek International Ukulele Carnival in 2018.

File / Lake County News-Chronicle

SILVER CREEK — If you got a taste of ukulele music at the Tori fest, but want exponentially more, Silver Creek has you covered Aug. 18-21.

Organized by the Two Harbors Ukulele Group, the Silver Creek International Ukulele Festival is a four-day uke fest held annually since 2011. Players of all levels of proficiency, from extreme beginners to professionals, gather at the Silver Creek Music Pavilion to strum along to “MUGs” (massed ukulele group songs).

The carnival includes performances from players around the world, workshops on ukulele-related topics and a free performance where over 200 players strum along to songs they’ve worked on throughout the weekend.

This year’s carnival starts a day earlier than usual, on Aug. 18, with a concert in Thomas Owens Memorial Park in Two Harbors at 7 p.m. Then the festival starts in earnest on Friday at the music pavilion with workshops, MUG rehearsals and strum times.

For more information on the festival, visit

. Participants are encouraged to register online before Aug. 8, or in person at the festival.

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